Franklin is on the fast track to UFC stardom and for good reason, hes the modern day mixed martial artist, who combines excellent striking and submission skills. In 2003, Rich was a rising star in the UFCs light heavyweight division where he picked up a couple of victories ...
Rich Ace Franklin vs. David The Crow Loiseau
Franklin is on the fast track to UFC stardom and for good reason, hes the modern day mixed martial artist, who combines excellent striking and submission skills. In 2003, Rich was a rising star in the UFCs light heavyweight division where he picked up a couple of victories before trying his hand in the middleweight division. After registering a victory over Jorge Riveria, Franklin moved back up to 205 lbs for the fight that would change his life, a match against MMA legend Ken Shamrock that he won in convincing fashion. That win served notice that Franklin was the real deal and good things were in the cards for Ace, first up was a middleweight title shot against champion Evan Tanner, who Franklin had previously beaten at light heavyweight. Rich completely dominated Tanner for the better part of 4 rounds, to the point where it looked as though a couple of Tony Sopranos goons worked Tanner over with a sledgehammer for 20 minutes. Following the victory, Franklin was then featured as one of the coaches on season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter, gaining even more public notoriety in the process. Most recently, Rich made quick work of Nate Quarry in his first title defense, and became the first middleweight champion to successfully defend the belt since Murilo Bustamante.
Like so many of the Canadian fighters on this card Loiseau also made his name in MMA fighting in TKO, but has since become somewhat of a UFC veteran with 5 appearances inside the Octagon. Loiseau is a very explosive fighter, and is especially dangerous when he is fighting from within a Thai clinch, as he likes to throw a couple of knees and then follow through with his deadly elbow strikes. The Crow has become renowned for his elbows and only needs a matter of seconds to inflict some damage, as was the case in his last fight where he was able to open a couple of cuts on Evan Tanner that eventually led to the fight being stopped. Loiseau is capable of throwing his elbows standing or when hes in his opponents guard, aside from Tanner he has also stopped Tony Fryklund and Gideon Ray in fights due to cuts. Although, one area of concern in Loiseaus last two fights is that Charles McCarthy and Evan Tanner were both successful taking him down and getting his back in the process, however The Crow was able to defend against their submission attempts.
Franklin has been very successful in his last two fights striking, but against Loiseau it will be interesting to see if he will want to stand and bang, or look for a takedown and work his ground game. The best situation for Franklin to be able to neutralize Loiseaus elbows would be to put The Crow on his back, from the bottom hes far less likely to strike effectively. In the 1st round of the Tanner/Loiseau fight that was the strategy Tanner employed as he was in complete control, Loiseau was too concerned about trying to defend a rear naked choke to think about striking. However, one thing Franklin needs to consider is that Loiseau likes to keep his opponents guessing about what he might do next, he attempts a lot of unorthodox kicks that can come at you from any angle. This should be a fantastic fight and as long as Franklin can avoid getting cut, I think hell be able to impose his will against The Crow.
BJ Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre
With all due respect to Franklin and Loiseau, the showdown between BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre is probably the most anticipated match on the card, and has fight of the year potential. Penn is the UFCs Linear Champion and is making his return to the Octagon after being exiled for nearly 2 years, when he was stripped of the title because he took a fight outside the organization while the UFCs welterweight champion. Interestingly enough, one of the fighters that fought for Penns vacant belt at UFC 50 was St. Pierre who put up a valiant effort but in the end lost to Matt Hughes. Nevertheless, St. Pierre has been on fire since then and probably had the best year of any UFC fighter in 2005, notching wins over Jason Miller, Frank Trigg and Sean Sherk.
Penn broke into MMA as a lightweight and has spent the majority of his career fighting for the UFC, and has already competed in 3 championship matches. Unfortunately, in his first attempt at the 155 lbs title he was on the losing end of a decision to Jens Pulver. In his second shot against Caol Uno for the then vacant belt it appeared Penn had done enough over 5 rounds to secure the victory, but the fight ended in a draw. Nonetheless, after two unsuccessful bids to win the lightweight title BJ did the unthinkable by moving up in weight to challenge Matt Hughes at 170 lbs for the welterweight title. This is without question Penns biggest triumph, as he constantly kept the pressure on Hughes, controlled him on the ground and was completely able to dominate the champion. Anytime the fight hits the ground Penn seems capable of taking his opponents back, and this was certainly the case against Hughes as the champion couldnt get off his back and was submitted near the end of the 1st round. Similar to how he prepared for the Hughes fight, Penns camp has again brought in Matt Lindland to help BJ with his wrestling, and the camp firmly believes the fight against St. Pierre will be Penns first defense of his title.
Based on the fact that every time St. Pierre steps into the Octagon he seems to be able to take his game up another notch, its no surprise he is arguably the hottest fighter in the UFC and appears on the verge of greatness. St. Pierres only professional loss was in an attempt to win the title against Matt Hughes, and as hes mentioned on several occasions since then that making a mental mistake in that fight ultimately led to defeat. To suggest that St. Pierre is at a disadvantage heading into this fight due to the fact he lost to Hughes, and Penn defeated Hughes would be extremely foolhardy. The Georges St. Pierre showing up on March 4th is a much more confident and experienced fighter then the one who fought Hughes at UFC 50. Also, to believe St. Pierre has been on anything less then a mission since that loss would be the understatement of the year in MMA. After dishing out a brutal beating to Jason Miller, completely dominating former #1 contender Frank Trigg, and manhandling wrestling standout Sean Sherk, St. Pierre is certainly ready to take his next step towards reaching the pinnacle of the sport.
Penn is a very dangerous fighter, his ground game is legendary and he isnt averse to striking with an opponent. Also, the pressure of performing in a big fight is never a concern for Penn, as when all the chips are on the table hes usually at his very best. BJ is usually willing to press the action and keep moving forward, as well he has a tendency of starting fights by sprinting across the ring in an attempt to catch his opponent off guard and initiate a takedown. However, St. Pierre seems to be just too athletic to be controlled for an extended period of time and his solid standup usually leads to him getting a dominant position to finish the fight. In addition to having a beautiful sprawl, Georges has very good lateral movement and effective striking so he definitely has the ability to defend Penns takedown attempts. When the fight does get into close quarters, St. Pierre likely has more then enough strength to impose his will and possibly use legs sweeps to take Penn down, as BJ was vulnerable to them in his second fight with Uno. On the ground its unlikely to foresee St. Pierre submitting Penn, but Georges is relentless with dropping elbows from an opponents guard.
Prediction: St. Pierre
Yves Edwards vs. Mark The Machine Hominick
Commemorating the return of the lightweight division is one of the worlds top fighters, UFC veteran Yves Edwards makes his return to the Octagon to battle TKOs super lightweight champion Mark The Machine Hominick. This fight has all the makings of a classic standup battle as both fighters are known for being phenomenal strikers. However, it will be a tough test for Hominicks debut, as he will be moving up 10 pounds from his natural fighting weight to challenge Edwards.
Edwards is a textbook case of perseverance, after losing his first two appearances in the UFC hes since developed into one of the premier fighters in the world, and has won his last 6 fights inside the famed Octagon. He also seemed destined to become the organizations 155 lbs champion until the UFC decided to put the division on ice about a year and a half ago. Standing 5-10, Yves is very big for a lightweight and that usually translates into a significant reach advantage in most of his fights, which certainly compliments his standup game. Edwards is a devastating striker who possesses a deadly array of punches, kicks, and knees, as well as excellent jiu-jitsu skills. Yves striking abilities receive a lot of notoriety, but when the fight hits the ground hes great at controlling his opponent, especially when he is able to lock in a body triangle. Edwards fighting discipline is called Thugjitsu, which is described as being able to find a weakness in your opponent that compliments your strength, and then exploiting it.
Hominick is a Canadian kickboxing champion who trains out of Shawn Tompkins Mauy Thai School in London, Ontario, and he successfully confirmed his spot for this event by picking up a victory over Pancrase veteran Naoji Fujimoto at TKO 24. Hominick is a standup fighter that has lighting fast hand speed, tremendous conditioning, a very effective sprawl and incredible power behind his punches. The Machine is currently riding a 4-fight winning streak, but unlike fellow TKO veteran Jonathan Goulet, Hominick is no road warrior with 3 of his 4 losses having occurred outside the province of Quebec.
It isnt very often Edwards finds someone who is willing to stand and strike with him, but hes likely found that in Hominick. Edwards is very effective at mixing up his game with low kicks and beautiful wild moves like flying knees and high kicks. Hominicks last loss occurred against jiu-jitsu ace Shayne Rice, and even though The Machine later avenged that loss in a rematch, he struggled in trying to stop Rice from passing his guard in both fights. Edwards always looks so relaxed and in control during his fights, which will be an advantage over Hominick who will have to experience the bright lights of the UFC for the first time. Edwards is probably too tough an opponent for Hominicks debut, but a strong showing Saturday night should hopefully ensure the Canadian fighter will be back in the UFC in the near future.
Mike Swick vs. Steve Vigneault
This fight has the potential to bring the crowd to their feet, and if everything goes according to script the fans will not be standing for too long. Given both Mike Swick and Steve Vigneault love to stand and bang there will definitely be fireworks in the early stages of the fight. Swick is a season 1 Ultimate Fighter veteran, but compared to when he was on the show hes now finally fighting at his natural weight of 185 lbs. Vigneault is a TKO veteran and former light heavyweight champion within that organization.
Since his UFC debut Swick always seems to be involved in an exciting fight that thrills the fans. Hes spent a total of 42 seconds inside the Octagon in his two UFC appearances, which has earned him the nickname Quick. As mentioned, hes a great standup fighter which is due it part to training with the American Kickboxing Academy, but he also has a decent ground game that he hasnt been able to display thus far. He was able to finish off veteran Gideon Ray with a beautiful 4-punch combination in his last fight.
Vigneault is a tough fearless striker who can certainly absorb his fair share of punches to land one of his own shots. Hell throw the occasional knee inside a clinch, but having trained with the Hilton family his boxing skills are definitely his forte. A few years back Vigneault was one of the top contenders in his weight class, especially after winning TKOs light heavyweight championship. However, after a couple of back-to-back KO losses that both occurred just over a minute into the fight, his chin has now been called into question as of late.
Vigneault will not be afraid to stand in front of Swick and trade shots with him, but the speed advantage would clearly favor Swick. Yet, Swick is by no means impervious to being KOd himself, unfortunately in his last two fights he hasnt really been tested but his fight against Chris Leben proved he too can be dropped. Swick went down from a Leben left hook in the 1st round, and was stopped for good during an exchange at the beginning of the 2nd round. Vigneault should prove to be more of a test then Swicks two previous opponents, but the AKA product likely has too many tools for him to pull off the upset.
Nate Marquardt vs. Joe Doerkson
Nate Marquardts status has been in limbo for nearly 7 months with the Nevada State Athletic Commission over a positive steroid test, which occurred after his fight against Ivan Salaverry back in August. Now that everything has finally been cleared up hes ready to make his return to the Octagon against a very formidable opponent in Joe Doerkson.
Nate is a 7 time King of Pancrase but he still remains somewhat unknown to most North American fans since his successes have occurred in the land of the rising sun. Nonetheless, Marquardt is a top 5 fighter in the middleweight division and has been quite vocal as of late requesting a shot at the title for his next fight in the UFC. He made his long awaited debut in the UFC against Ivan Salaverry in the summer, and both fighters were criticized for an uneventful performance, yet Nate still picked up a unanimous decision victory over the highly regarded Salaverry.
Doerkson has lost 2 of his 3 UFC appearances, however he took his last fight on short notice and looked very sharp battling Matt Lindland, who at the time was the divisions #1 contender. Doerkson had a couple of chances to submit Lindland but was unable to finish him and lost a decision to the Olympic wrestler. Doerkson is extremely slick on the ground, and once he gets an opponents back he does a great job of using his left leg to tie up his opponents arm, so it only leaves one arm to defend against the rear naked choke. Hes used this technique twice in the UFC and it worked to perfection against Patrick Cote at UFC 52, where he got his fellow Canadian to tap out.
Given Marquardt is a black belt in BJJ and Doerkson is no slouch on the ground, there likely wont be a decisive grappling advantage for either fighter, however Joe was submitted by Jason MacDonald in his last fight. The edge in the fight will likely come down to striking, and Marquardt is certainly the better striker of the two, as Doerkson doesnt offer much in the way of offense standing up and was dropped a couple of times in his match against Cote. I think Marquardt is the more complete fighter of the two and should be able to pull out the victory, yet Doerkson will not make it easy for him.