There has been plenty of great boxing action to keep fight fans appeased lately, but since the beginning of March Madness, those craving mixed martial arts action have been left somewhat wanting. That should end in a big way, starting tonight when the UFC broadcasts a free Fight Night card on Spike TV at 8 o’clock. The broadcast will be followed immediately by the premier of the 9th edition of its Ultimate Fighter series, meaning that fans will have the chance to see at least one fight per week for the next few months, albeit buried in reality TV, as that tournament plays out.
What’s more, the WEC will have an event to follow on Sunday night April 5th, followed by the return of Strikeforce to Showtime on April 11th, and UFC 97 on April 18th. MMA fans will certainly have their plates full in the weeks to come.
As for tonight’s card, although it’s sorely lacking in star power, more often than not, that’s the recipe for an explosive card where the UFC is concerned. The last fight night broadcast was as brutal as any card in recent memory, and looked very similar to this one in terms of name value.
In any event, with little else to occupy a sports fans attention at this point, it’ll be worth a look. And with 4 fights scheduled for live broadcast, and 7 more from the under card ready in the can incase the televised card goes quickly, you’re sure to see at least a few very good fights. And it’ll be followed by episode 1 of the Ultimate Fighter 9, which will feature 16 European fighters vying for 8 spots in the house. Somehow I think there’s little chance that fans go away from this one disappointed.
Here’s a look ahead at some of the match ups:
Carlos Condit – 6’2”, 170 lbs. – (23-4) vs. Martin Kampmann – 6’0”, 170 lbs. – (14-2)
In the main event, Carlos Condit, still very much an unknown commodity outside of devout fight fans, will make his UFC debut after terrorizing the WEC’s welterweight division from his debut in the organization in January of 2007. After winning that debut against Kyle Jensen in impressive fashion, Condit choked out John Allesio in his second WEC fight to win the organization’s welterweight title, which he successfully defended 3 times before seeing the division folded after his last fight in August of last year.
His reputation fairly cemented already (he ranks 7th in the world in the WAMMA welterweight rankings), Condit will need just one or two preliminary fights before a match up with George St. Pierre and a chance at the UFC’s welterweight title awaits him. With him, Condit brings credibility to a division sorely in need of a contender. With a 5-0 record in the WEC and 8 straight wins overall dating back to 2006, Condit has plenty of hype to live up to. None of his last 8 victories have gone to the cards, and only one of his 5 WEC fights even went beyond the second round.
At 26, Kampmann is 2 years older than Condit, and attempting to reclaim the meteoric rise that he seemed to be on prior to falling to Nate Marquardt by first round KO, in his next to last fight in September of 2008. Overall, Kampmann has won 10 of his last 11 fights dating back to 2005, with only one of those contests even going to the 3rd round. In his last fight, Kampmann got back onto the right track scoring a 2nd round KO over little known Brazilian Alexandre Barros in January.
A Mauy Thai Fighter, Kampmann’s record seems to indicate that’s he’s comfortable on the ground too, as a number of his wins have come by way of quick submissions, mostly as a result of chokes. In Condit however, he’ll have an opponent who’s likely even more versatile than himself, and should look to keep things standing up. Condit will likely be looking for a quick finish, wherever he can get it, and likely won’t feel the need to dictate style. He can probably handle Kampmann on their feet, or on the ground, but will have to give Kampmann his respect, or it could be an inauspicious debut for the rising contender.
My Pick: Condit by Submission – Choke – Round 1
Ryan Bader – 6’2”, 205 lbs. – (9-0) vs. Carmelo Marrero – 6’0”, 205 lbs. – (10-2-1)
In his first fight since winning the Ultimate Fighter 8 reality show in impressive fashion over Vinny Magalhaes by 1st round KO, Bader will be looking once again to prove that he’s no fluke as a TUF winner. Part of a growing contingent of Arizona State wrestlers in the UFC, Bader’s inexperience so far hasn’t been a hindrance, as his incredible mat strength and surprisingly effective yet raw hands have pulled him through his young career so far.
Still very much a work in progress, Bader will have to hope that match maker Joe Silva will feed him a string of early opponents to help him build on his growing and already impressive skill set. Instead, in Marrero, Silva may have thrown Bader immediately into the deep end of the pool. We’ll see if he has what it takes to keep afloat.
Marrero, the 28 year old is on his second time around with the UFC and should be looking to capitalize at the expense of Bader, the rising star. The Philadelphia born wrestler, managed to work his record to 5-0, securing himself a spot on the card against Cheick Kongo at UFC 64 in October of 2006. He made the most of the opportunity too, stealing a split decision win over Kongo and a match up with Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 66, 2 months later. Successive submission losses to Gonzaga and Wilson Gouveia had Marrero back out of the UFC and trying to rebuild.
At 4-0 with 1 no contest in the 2 years since his last UFC fight, Marrero should be looking to get this match to the ground. His superior experience, combined with Bader’s lack of Jiu Jitsu skills could give him the advantage there, although Bader’s strength should still make him a handful. On their feet, Bader should enjoy the power advantage, in addition to his height and presumable reach advantage too. His wrestling background could make taking him down a tall order, and lead to knockout opportunities if he can frustrate Marrero. I’ll take the upset in this one.
My Pick: Marrero by Submission – Choke – Round 2
Tyson Griffin- 5’6”, 155 lbs. – (12-2) vs. Rafael Dos Anjos – 5’9”, 155 lbs. – (11-3)
Griffin, a 24-year-old wrestler, has been fighting in the UFC since September of 2006 and is currently ranked as the #9 lightweight in the world by WAMMA. After winning submission of the night, with a first round choke out of David Lee in his UFC debut, Griffin has gone to the cards in each of his last 6 fights, 4 of which won fight of the night honors, and 2 of which he lost. A well-conditioned workhorse, Griffin has proven adept at frustrating opponents, if not at finishing them. In this fight, he’ll be looking to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to Shawn Sherk in October of last year, which would have likely vaulted him into contention for a lightweight title shot.
Dos Anjos, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist, will also be looking to rebound from a loss in his last contest. His, a third round KO, at the hands of Jeremy Stevens at UFC 91 in November, was his first loss in 10 fights dating back to 2006. Having only gone to the cards in 3 of his last 9 wins, Dos Anjos should be looking to get this one to the ground and neutralize the high energy Griffin with leverage and technique. The longer this one goes, or the longer it remains standing, the better things look for Griffin.
My Pick: Dos Anjos by Submission – Arm bar – Round 2
Junie Browning – 5’9”, 155 lbs. – (3-1) vs. Cole Miller – 6’1”, 155 lbs. – (14-3)
In a match up of Ultimate Fighter alums, this should be a battle of clashing styles, and clashing personalities too. Browning, one of the most colorful and memorable characters in TUF history was touted as an early favorite on last season’s show. Never lacking for confidence or aggression, Browning seemed to be his own worst enemy, and perhaps his own biggest obstacle to UFC success. By the end of last seasons show, Browning, despite a well-rounded skill set, seemed to lack both the experience and discipline to be taken seriously as a UFC fighter. Of course, he proceeded to dismantle Dave Kaplan in dominant fashion on the finale, again giving hope to the possibility that he could be a contender.
An equally well rounded, albeit far less aggressive Cole Miller is a handful in the 155-pound division with his tall frame and technical smoothness. Having lost just once since being eliminated from the 5th season of the Ultimate Fighter, Miller has yet to demonstrate that he’s ready for the upper echelon of the lightweight division, but at just 24 years old, his experience outweighs his youth, and his upside could be unlimited.
This fight could easily go either way, and probably depends most on which Junie Browning shows up. At his best, Browning could be too much for anyone at 155 to handle. Thus far at least, his best has been few and far between at best though.
My Pick: Miller by Submission – Choke – Round 1
There are 5 more fights not scheduled for broadcast. The odds are that you’ll see at least a few of them, but depending on how they go, and how the live card turns out, which ones and how many we’ll see are tough to tell. Here’s a look quick look at each of them:
Gleison Tibau – 5’10”, 155 lbs. – (28-5) vs. Jeremy Stephens – 5’9”, 155 lbs. – (16-4)
My Pick: Stephens by TKO – Round 3
Ricardo Almeida – 6’0”, 185 lbs. – (9-3) vs. Matt Horwich – 6’2”, 185 lbs. – (24-10-1)
My Pick: Almeida by Submission – Choke – Round 3
Brock Larson – 5’11”, 170 lbs. – (25-2) vs. Jesse Sanders – 6’0”, 170 lbs. – (21-4)
My Pick: Larson by TKO – Round 2
Tim Credeur – 6’3”, 185 lbs. – (12-4) vs. Nick Catone – 6’0”, 185 lbs. – (7-0)
My Pick: Credeur by Submission – Arm bar – Round 2
Jorge Rivera – 6’1”, 185 lbs. – (15-7) vs. Nissen Osterneck – 6’2”, 185 lbs. – (5-1)
My Pick: Rivera by TKO – Round 2
Rob Kimmons – 5’10”, 185 lbs. – (21-4) vs. Joe Vedepo – 6’0”, 185 lbs. – (9-2)
My Pick: Kimmons by Submission – Choke – Round 1
Tim McKenzie – 6’0”, 185 lbs. – (12-5) vs. Aaron Simpson – 6’0”, 185 lbs. – (4-0)
My Pick: Simpson by TKO – Round 2
Enjoy the Fights!!!