Tonight, SPIKE TV will air UFC 89 for free, in what must be one of the companies least anticipated events in recent memory. Fans have voiced their displeasure with the seemingly pedestrian fight card and critics have clamored for more recognizable fighters. While 89 lacks the usual star power, all the fights should be highly competitive and action packed, so don’t sleep on the events potential.
In what has drawn significant criticism for being undeserving of main event status, Michael Bisping will face Chris Leben to end the show. Although neither fighter has reached an elite level, they are both potential title contenders, who have yet to see their careers peak. What detractors have failed to realize is the two combatants styles align perfectly.
Leben is one of the most crowd pleasing fighters in the organization and Bisping has stopped his previous two opponents by TKO. These two strikers love to bang and more importantly, both put on action filled performances. Despite not having the same name recognition as the UFC’s biggest stars, the main event has all the makings of a potential war.
Besides the main event, two light heavyweight fights should provide fans with quality, all-action bouts. The first of these two will pit Keith Jardine against Brandon Vera. Both men are especially dangerous because they are entering the octagon with a chip on their shoulders.
Jardine hopes to erase the memory of his quick KO loss to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84. Beating Vera, would go a long way in doing so and once again move him back into the title picture. While clearly an important match for Jardine, this is a must-win, statement fight for Vera.
After coming off back-to-back losses and a dreadful performance in a decision win in his last bout, Vera needs to prove his earlier success at heavyweight was not a fluke. The explosive and dynamic striking that Vera reigned down against earlier opponents has evaporated during his last three fights. This is his opportunity to regain some of the allure and hype he had less than two years earlier.
The two fighters have their backs to the wall and will want to make their presence felt. This bodes well for the fans who are expecting a snoozer. These two need a victory and should come out firing on all cylinders.
The last match fans have seemed to place on the back burner is Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou versus Luiz Cane. For those who don’t know, Sokoudjou is a young prospect who burst onto the scene by consecutively knocking out highly regarded Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. Cane, the lesser known fighter, is one of the dark horses of the division. This fight shouldn’t last long, but as long as it does it’ll be a good one. These guys are extremely heavy handed and push the pace, leading to what should be, another thriller.
Two other bouts that round out the main card, will feature Chris Lytle against Paul Taylor and Marcus Davis versus Paul Kelly. Lytle and Davis both throw leather and are knockout artists.
Essentially, there are five matches that on paper, have the potential to be exciting and action packed. So despite the big names not being there, if you are the type of fan who relishes watching the relentless strikers and big time KO’s, this card could end up being a wild one.
UFC 89 PREDICTIONS
This fight is extremely hard to predict. Bisping has an iron chin and better wrestling, but Bisping has the more technical striking. Leben could pull off the upset and may surprise by taking Bisping down. It’ll be critical for him to challenge Bisping immediately and bring the fight to him. Eventually though, I see Bisping weathering the early storm and meticulously picking Leben apart
- Michael Bisping via TKO
Tonight, Vera will look like the fighter of old. Regardless of the outcome, Vera knows he must be impressive, even in defeat. I think he will show renewed vigor and use the clinch to put Jardine to sleep.
- Brandon Vera via TKO
While I almost picked Leben as my upset pick, I decided to go with Cane. He has looked vicious in his two UFC appearances and when he smells blood, goes in the for kill. Definitely not the strongest fighter at 205, his heavy hands and jiu-jitsu make up for his shortcoming. Sokoudjou is still very raw and has only shown flashes of his athletic talents, against the hard hitting Cane he has a punchers chance, but not much else
- Cane via TKO