The month of August is scheduled to be chock-full of UFC action. It all begins on August 6th with Ultimate Fight Night and continues with UFC 54 airing on pay-per-view August 20th and season two of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) debuting August 22nd, and newest member of the MMA Ring Report Team Mike Doyle breaks down the card from Ultimate Fight Night and gives us his picks and pans.
The month of August is scheduled to be chock-full of UFC action. It all begins on August 6th with Ultimate Fight Night and continues with UFC 54 airing on pay-per-view August 20th and season two of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) debuting August 22nd. The August 6th show will be aired on Spike TV and will be the first live televised event on cable since the Ultimate Fighter finale in April. However, the difference between this upcoming show and the April show is Ultimate Fight Night will feature a full card, whereas the TUF finale only aired 3 fights. In an effort to capitalize on the success of season one of TUF reality show the UFC has scheduled six of the eight fights on this card to feature fighters from the show. Therefore fans will see Stephan Bonnar, Chris Leben, Nate Quarry and Josh Koscheck among others competing in action.
Nathan Marquardt vs. Ivan Salaverry
The main event between Marquardt and Salaverry could possibly position the winner for a shot at the middleweight title in the New Year. Matt Lindland appears to be the #1 ranked contender for Rich Franklins belt and Dana White has promised him hes next in line to get a shot at the 185 lbs title. However, Lindlands facing Joe Doerkson at UFC 54 and a loss for Lindland could certainly cloud the situation after August 20th.
This will be Marquardts UFC debut and its the first fight of his newly signed three-fight contract with the organization. Nathan is a 7-time King of Pancrase who has been training and fighting in Japan since 1999, therefore hes not likely well known to North American MMA fans. Marquardt prides himself on not being a defensive fighter, but rather someone thats always attacking which should allow him to showcase how well rounded he is as a fighter. Nathan likes to stand-up and strike with his opponents, but the majority of his wins have come via submission. Marquardt is coming into this fight having won his last two fights, but he was submitted by Ricardo Almeida not too long ago.
Ivan Salaverry on the other hand is probably a little better known to fans as he has fought in the UFC on four occasions. Ivan has always been the kind of fighter whereby if you wanted to strike, hes a great grappler and if you wanted to grapple he is a great striker, however, it would appear he is in a situation where his style seems to resemble that of Marquardts. Another thing Salaverry has in common with Marquardt is that he also spent some time fighting in Japan, only to return to the UFC in impressive fashion in October 2004 when he fought Tony Fryklund at UFC 50. Salaverry dropped Fryklund with a combination and was immediately able to sink his hooks into Fryklund once he hit the ground, securing a triangle body lock for the submission victory. Ivan followed that up with another impressive outing, defeating Joe Riggs at UFC 52 with a triangle choke. Heading into this fight both Salaverry and Marquardt are comfortable on the ground and standing up exchanging strikes, however, Im leaning slightly towards Salaverry winning this fight via submission.
Patrick Cote vs. Chris Leben
This has fight of the night written all over it. Not only are both of these fighters willing to stand and strike, but what makes things interesting is that they both need a win on August 6th. Cote has lost his only two UFC fights (Ortiz & Doerkson) and a third loss in just as many appearances likely spells his exit from the UFC. Meanwhile, Leben lost both his fights on the reality show and would like nothing more then the chance to prove to everyone hes for real and is a force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division.
Cote has a lot of power behind his punches and was able to drop both Tito Ortiz and Joe Doerkson with one shot. However, hell likely want to strike from a safe distance and not allow the Team Quest trained Leben to get into a clinch where he could utilize his dirty boxing skills. Patrick seemed to have a hard time defending takedowns in his two previous UFC fights, therefore if Leben can get into the clinch he would be in an excellent position to take Cote down and show off his ground game. Cote was able to survive Ortizs GnP assault, yet in all fairness to Tito he fought a very cautious fight that hardly resembled the explosiveness he has shown in the past because he was coming off consecutive loses and was in desperate need for a win. Its worth noting that Cote has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) but he hasnt really looked dangerous when hes been on his back.
Leben has been quite vocal about wanting to roll the dice and stand-up with Cote. Chris is a really tough kid with a huge heart and he has a dangerous left hand that was evident when he broke Benji Radachs jaw and KOd Mike Swick. I believe both fighters will land there fair share of strikes but at some point in the fight Cote will inevitably catch Leben with his straight right and record his 1st UFC knockout.
Stephan Bonnar vs. Sam Hoger
In what will likely get the loudest crowd reaction of the night since the fans are already familiar with Bonnar and Hoger as they both made it to the semi-finals on the show. However, it will be because of Stephans grueling battle against Forrest Griffin in the finals that will have the crowd in a frenzy eagerly anticipating what he will do for an encore. This will be Bonnars first time back in the Octagon since the aforementioned Griffin fight in April, and with Forrest having recently won at UFC 53 it will now be up to Stephan to do his part and win on August 6th to set-up the much anticipated rematch.
During the show Bonnar won both his fights, a hard fought split decision victory over Bobby Southworth and submission win over Mike Swick in the semi-finals. Stephan is more then comfortable standing and striking, but training with Carlson Gracie hes also got good submission skills, which were evident when he fought Swick. While Bonnar was trying to secure a triangle choke, Swicks right arm was hanging free and Stephan quickly capitalized on the opening and slapped on an arm bar that forced Swick to tap out. Aside from the Griffin fight, the only other MMA loss Bonnar has was against Ryoto Machida. However, Bonnar is in pretty good company as Machida recently beat BJ Penn and owns a TKO win over current UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin.
Hoger was one of only 3 fighters on TUF who didnt have to fight until the semi-finals and in his only fight on the show he looked very impressive against Griffin. He was able to take the centre of the cage and land a number of quality kicks that likely earned him the first round. However, it was early in the second round when Sam got caught in a clinch and Forrest landed a number of knees which dropped him, that were followed up with a flurry of punches that forced the referee to stop the fight. In Hogers last fight he won a unanimous decision over Southworth who had given Bonnar all he could handle when they fought on the show. I think this fight is much closer then some fans realize. Sams training with team Miletich and has been sparring with fighters like Tim Sylvia, therefore Hoger is certainly capable of surprising everyone and winning this fight. However, the battle of attrition that Bonnar recently endured during the shows finale should give him a slight edge going into this fight, therefore Im picking Stephan to win via submission late in the fight.
Kenny Florian vs. Alex Karalexis
Given that Kenny advanced to the middleweight finals of TUF and hes also a black belt in BJJ most observers would feel hes the favorite going into this showdown. However, in his first fight on the show against Leben, he was unable to impose his will for the majority of the fight and Leben was in total control until Kenny opened a cut above Lebens eye in the 2nd round, forcing a doctors stoppage. The victory over Leben propelled Kenny into the finals, however he was completely overmatched and dominated in his fight with Diego Sanchez and lost via 1st round TKO. Prior to his appearance on TUF Florian also lost a decision to Drew Fickett at Combat Zone in April 2004.
Alex has been training with Phil Baroni, Jay Heiron, Jason Mayhem Miller, and Marc Laimon. This in no way suggests Karalexis is at the same level as Kenny on the ground, but working with someone like Laimon should defiantly improve his ground game to the point where he is more skilled at defending against submission attempts and not giving up his back as quick as he did to Diego. During the show it was well documented that Karalexis was a heavy puncher, yet Florian was able weather Lebens shots without buckling, therefore Kenny isnt likely to be susceptible to a one-punch knockout. In a clinch I think Alex would get the better of the exchanges that should lead to him taking Kenny down. Therefore, Im going with the upset and picking Alex to employ the strategy Chris Leben should have used in his fight with Florian and GnP his way to a TKO or a decision victory.
Nathan Quarry vs. Pete Sell
Quarry is very well rounded and was arguably the most gifted fighter on the show, yet he injured his ankle and never got a chance to show what he was capable of until the April finale when he defeated Lodune Sincaid. The UFC decided to test Quarrys popularity and put him on the under card at UFC 53 against MMA veteran Shonie Carter and Nate didnt disappoint. He received one of the loudest crowd reactions on the night and did an outstanding job of finishing Carter off once he had him hurt to record a 1st round TKO victory. Along with Randy Couture, Quarry was one of the founding members of Team Quest, having met Randy after his victory over Vitor Belfort at UFC 15. Even though some fans are only now just becoming aware of Nate, hes been training for 9 years and has a wealth of experience from working out with the likes of Randy, Matt Lindland, and Dan Henderson.
Pete Sell is an unbeaten fighter from Matt Serras camp and pulled off an unbelievable upset win over Baroni at UFC 51. Afterwards Baroni was heavily criticized for looking sluggish in this fight, however as a replacement for Robbie Lawler, Sell performed as well as anyone could have expected him. Primarily known for his jiu-jitsu, he continues to improve on his striking skills, which will likely be called upon in his fight with Quarry. When Sell was standing with Baroni he took a couple of heavy shots that he was able to shake off, nonetheless, I expect Quarry to continue his winning ways and stop Sell via TKO.
Mike Swick vs. Gideon Ray
Originally scheduled to fight Keith Rockel, Mike Swick will now face Keith Hackneys number one student Gideon Ray. Swick showed the MMA world why he is one of the most respected fighters in the world, as he gave up 13 pounds in his semi-final fight with Stephan Bonnar and still managed to control most of the fight. The American Kickboxing Academy product looked very comfortable during the first round and even caught Bonnar in a guillotine early in the first round that appeared to be locked in very tight. However, the weight advantage Bonnar had going into this fight proved apparent and enabled him to escape from the Swicks submission attempt. Swick more then made up for this disappointing loss when at the April finale he shocked most observers by knocking out Alex Schoenauer in 20 seconds.
Like Rockel, Ray also has one UFC fight under his belt and is no stranger to taking on a new opponent on short notice. Ray made his UFC debut against David Loiseau as a replacement for Joe Riggs at UFC 51, and was scheduled to fight Curtis Stout at Ironheart Crown 7, but instead Jason Black of the Miletich Fighting Systems stepped up and took the fight. Ray is a good striker and looked comfortable standing with Loiseau, he even managed to land a couple of nice inside leg kicks, prior to having the doctor stop the fight after the first round due to a cut he received by Loiseaus elbow. Ray has a bit more experience going into this fight and I think that will be the deciding factor in him pulling out a decision victory.
Josh Koscheck vs. Pete Spratt
Prior to getting into MMA Josh had a decorated wrestling career that was highlighted when he was crowned the NCAA Division 1 National Champion after compiling a record of 42-0. However, during the show one area Josh needed to improve on was his inability to finish an opponent when he had them down. He was able to take Leben down and keep him down, but didnt really do anything from Lebens guard other then land a couple of elbows. Koscheck has been training with the American Kickboxing Academy and Crazy Bob Cook and judging from his most recent fight it appears as though it has started to pay dividends. Koscheck was able to take Chris Sanford down and in the process silence his critics who complain about his lack of action on the ground, by landing a hard right hand from the side mount of Sanford to record a 1st round KO.
Spratt is a much more experienced fighter then Koscheck and has fought some of the top names in MMA including; Chris Lytle, Georges St. Pierre, Carlos Newton, and Robbie Lawler. As a Muay Thai fighter, one of Spratts greatest weapons are his kicks which were extremely effective in his fight with Robbie Lawler, leading to a TKO victory. However, dont expect him to throw as many kicks in this fight as Josh will likely be looking for the takedown, which will neutralize a big part of Spratts offense. This fight will be a big test for Koscheck, but I feel his superior wrestling skills will be too much for Spratt and Josh should win a decision victory.
Drew Ficket vs. Josh Neer
Ficket is a strong wrestler with a good submission game who made his UFC debut in February against Nick Diaz. He owns a victory over UFC veteran Dennis Hallman and ultimate fighter Kenny Florian, however lost via TKO to Diaz at UFC 51. During his fight with Diaz, he was able to take Nick down, escape from an arm bar attempt and twice caught Diaz in a guillotine. Yet, he had a hard time defending Diazs GnP which led to the fight being stopped in the 1st round.
Neer is a fighter who likes to move forward and knock his opponents out. Hes only lost one MMA fight, which was a tough split decision to Spencer Fisher. Josh also has good wrestling skills, but his striking would be a direct result from working out with boxers and even team Miletich from time to time. Nicknamed the dentist because of a fight where he once knocked his opponents four front teeth out, I see Neer making himself a little more well known with a KO victory.