Sunday, January 4, 2009

UFC 93: Out With the Old, In With the Old

As with any great feature the follow up usually falls short of its predecessor. In the case of the next UFC card, the suits at the UFC may be following in line with the recession and booking fighters of yesteryear at minimal cost and risk.

The UFC closed 2008 with one of the strongest cards in combat sports history in a night that favored the underdog with knockout power. So what does the UFC come out with next? UFC 93. Even at third glance this card hardly ignites any interest from all angels, even if a few of the names still hold star power.

In what closely resembles a card that would normally be put together and showcased on the now defunct PRIDE, past stars with little future promise are headlining the show.

In the co-main event Mark Coleman, the co-star of the outstanding documentary The Smashing Machine,returns for the umpteenth time since his days as a tried and true warrior at PRIDE were over. He leaves the familiar setting of the Japanese ring to return to the place of his MMA birth, the octagon. He will face former PRIDE Grand Prix champ, Mauricio Rua, a fighter who was on a meteoric rise and atop many P4P lists before he broke his arm against Coleman when trying to break a fall after being tackled.

Rua was on his way back and seemed poise to overtake the UFC when he faced TUF star Forrest Griffin. A huge betting favorite, he gassed and was submitted by the better conditioned and stronger Griffin. Since then he has married and well, has been an inactive combatant for more than a year. Even with the layoff, Rua will be a betting favorite over Coleman, whose last fight was to Fedor Emilanenko more than 2 years ago. Talk about fighters who need to work off their ring/octagon rust. Hopefully, an injury will not be the winner in this one.

And now for the Main Event: Rich Franklin vs Dan Henderson. Both fighters are veterans of MMA with Henderson having the win in the experience column by light years. Franklin would be the darling if the UFC were it not for current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva. And therein lies the problem. Silva has already disposed of both Franklin and Henderson in conclusive fashion.

So where does either winner go from here?

Henderson seems to be the betting favorite as well as the favorite to get a rematch with Silva. Though Quinton Jackson proved that the third time is indeed the charm, it's doubtful that Franklin can produce a different result versus Silva as he has tried two different strategies against the Brazilian and lost by the same result: knees to the nose.

Henderson was doing a good job of holding Silva to the canvas, if not much else, until Silva played the mat game and won via a choke.

Luckily for both Henderson and Silva this fight is at light heavyweight. Unlucky for them is the fact that Rashad Evans is the champ at that weight. He may not have Silva's flexible lower limbs, but he possesses a strong wrestling background and punching power, as well as a solid chin.

Then there's Dennis Kang making his UFC debut against Alan Belcher. Look for the winner of this one to win by a choke, though Kang is the better stand up fighter.

And lastly, somewhere in the undercard is MMA veteran (only Coleman can claim seniority--if begrudgingly) Jeremy Horn. The 100+-fight veteran will face 10-fight "veteran" Rousimar Palhares. Let's see if youth trumps experience as it has the last time Horn has tested the younger lions.

Let's hope UFC's future PPV's are up to par. Are they trying to match some of Golden Boy Promotions undercards?

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