UFC 76: Knockout preview
UFC 76 is the culmination of a busy stretch for UFC, which has seen the promotion hold three pay-per-view caliber cards and one UFC Fight Night card in the span of about a month. In addition, the promotion launched the newest season of its reality show, "The Ultimate Fighter," this past week.
UFC 76 (being held in Anaheim, Calif. and available to those not able to make it to the event on pay-per-view starting at 10 PM EST) is dubbed "Knockout", so let's take a look at which main card fights could actually end by knockout, along with my predictions for those fights.
Chuck Liddell vs. Keith Jardine
Both of these light heavyweight strikers are coming off devastating knockout losses in their previous fights. Liddell's last 10 fights have ended in stoppage (none by submission) and he won eight of those bouts. Jardine's last two fights ended in stoppage. With the influx of talent into UFC's light heavyweight division including the additions of PRIDE superstars Mauricio Rua and Wanderlei Silva, I'm not sure if Liddell will ever be champ again. But, Jardine isn't nearly the caliber of fighter those guys are and I think Liddell will get back in the win column in this fight.
Prediction: Liddell wins by TKO due to strikes in the first round
Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua makes his UFC debut tonight after earning a reputation as one of the top light heavyweight fighters in the world with his performances in PRIDE. According to Sherdog.com, 13 of Rua's 16 wins have come by TKO or knockout. Griffin, on the other hand, has had a somewhat middling career since he won TUF 1. He is coming off a decision victory over Hector Ramirez and three of his five UFC victories have been by decision. Until we are shown otherwise, I have to consider Rua far superior to the scrappy Griffin.
Prediction: Rua wins by TKO due to strikes in the second round.
Jon Fitch vs. Diego Sanchez
Diego Sanchez is well-known in the welterweight division and to UFC fans, partly because of his performance in TUF 1 and partly because he was unbeaten in his MMA career before his loss to Josh Koscheck. However, the relatively unknown Jon Fitch is a rising welterweight who is himself unbeaten in six fights in UFC. This is Fitch's biggest opportunity since joining the promotion. He tends to win by submission while Sanchez tends to win by decision. While these facts would seem to indicate this fight won't end by knockout, in this case, I'm assuming Sanchez will not want to go to the ground against Fitch. But, I think Fitch can handle himself on his feet as well. I see a standup fight in which Fitch will properly introduce himself to UFC fans.
Prediction: Fitch by TKO due to strikes in the second round.
The other two main card fights are Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Lyoto Machida in a light heavyweight encounter and Thiago Tavares vs. Tyson Griffin in a lightweight bout. Nakamura is well-known to PRIDE fans and makes his UFC debut tonight. While both fights should be good ones, history indicates that neither will be won by knockout.
For the rest of the UFC 76 card, go to UFC.com.