By billy hull
The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its debut in Atlanta, Ga. at the Phillips Arena tomorrow night for UFC 88: Breakthrough. Fights that may not be televised include Roan Carneiro (12-7) vs. Ryo Chonan (14-8), Jason Lambert (23-8) vs. Jason MacDonald (21-10), Tim Boetsch (7-2) vs. Michael Pratt (15-2) and Thiago Tavares (17-2) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (17-4).
The Karo Parysian/Yoshiyuki Yoshida fight has been scrapped. Here’s a breakdown with predictions of the five fights scheduled to be broadcast on the pay-per-view:
Dong Hyun Kim (10-0-1) vs. Matt Brown (10-6)
After making his mark in the DEEP promotion in Japan, Kim made a successful debut in the UFC at UFC 84, beating up on Jason Tan for a TKO victory. Matt Brown is an alum of the recent Ultimate Fighter series. Kim is a southpaw, which can be tricky for some fighters to attack. Expect Kim to use his all-around skills and get Brown on the ground and work him over for a TKO victory in the second round after dominating most of the first.
Martin Kampmann (13-1) vs. Nate Marquardt (29-8-2)
Marquardt is the perfect example of a guy that isn’t flashy, but just wins. It took him four consecutive wins before he finally got a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title. Although he was finished by TKO late in the first round, he bounced back with an impressive submission of Jeremy Horn before losing a close, and controversal, split decision against Thales Leites.
Kampmann is coming off a knee injury, but both of these guys are in the upper level of the middleweight division and the winner will be close to getting a shot at Silva because of how weak the UFC 185-pound division is. Marquardt is the stronger fighter and should have the advantage on the ground, but Kampmann is 4-0 in the UFC. I think Kampmann catches Marquardt standing and ends this fight by TKO in the third round.
Dan Henderson (22-7) vs. Rousimar Palhares (17-1)
If I told you I knew much about Palhares, I’d be lying, but that 17-1 record is impressive. I’ve followed Henderson’s career since his early days in PRIDE, and this is his first fight since a dissapointing loss to Anderson Silva for the 185-pound title. Yes, Henderson is 0-2 in the UFC but considering those two fights are against Silva and Rampage, about 99% of the roster would be 0-2 as well.
Palhares will look for submissions, but Henderson is hungry to get back on the winning track, is an Olympic-calibar wrestler, and possess that overhand right. Palhares trains with Brazilian Top Team, but I don’t see any of his victories coming against anyone close to the level of Henderson. I’ll take Henderson by decision.
Rich Franklin (25-3) vs. Matt Hamill (16-1)
Franklin makes his return to the 205-pound division after winning the middleweight title and owning everyone he faced until he ran into the buzzsaw known as Anderson Silva. Two losses to Silva and now Franklin makes the jump into the UFC’s most stacked division.
Hamill is a TIF veteran who should be undefeated. (His only loss was a split decision against Michael Bisping in England in which I saw as one of the worst judges decisions ever in the UFC.) Hamil is great at wrestling and ground control, but Franklin is a big step up in competition. I think Franklin is poised to make one last UFC run, this time at 205 pounds, and it starts with a second-round KO of Hamill.
Chuck Liddell (21-5) vs. Rashad Evans (16-0-1)
No need to introduce Chuck Liddell, arguably one of the most famous MMA fighters in the world, if not No. 1. Evans has an impressive record until you realize his last two fights were a boring, controversal decision against Michael Bisping and a draw against an old Tito Ortiz.
Evans’ fighting style could be one of the last exciting, although his highlight-reel kick that knocked out Sean Salmon was one of the great KO’s of 2007. Liddell hasn’t faught in nine months, since winning a decision over Wanderlei Silva. Both men have been fighting injury, and Octogan rust could be an issue. Evans is a great wrestler, known mostly for his takedowns, but Liddell has been known to be nearly impossible to keep on the mat. Liddell clearly has the advantage standing, and once Evans realizes he can’t keep his opponent on the mat, expect Liddell’s striking to be the difference in a second-round KO, setting the stage for a UFC light heavyweight title fight between Liddell and champion Forrest Griffin either in December or January.