Thursday, November 19, 2009

UFC 106: Preview

Initially, UFC 106 was expected to be the second biggest-selling UFC of 2009 behind only the all-time best-seller, UFC 100. That's no longer expected after a series of setbacks have forced the UFC to cobble together the last men standing in any way they could manage.

First, Mark Coleman (16-9) had to pull out of his scheduled co-main event slot against Tito Ortiz (15-6-1) due to an injury. So, the UFc's head matchmaker, Joe Silva, talked Forrest Griffin (16-6) into cutting his honeymoon short in order to set up Ortiz vs. Griffin II. Tito's long-awaited return from major back surgery was already a major draw at UFC 106, but but the upgraded opponent turned this match into must-see MMA. Ortiz vs. Griffin I was a hard-fought battle that ended in a split-decision victory for Ortiz back in April, 2006.

The struggle to keep UFC 106 from imploding didn't stop there, though.Next, the main event of Brock Lesnar (4-1) vs. Shane Carwin (11-0) was cancelled when Lesnar began suffering from life threatening complications due to severe gut rot. It turns out that he actually had a hole in his large intestine through which bits of semi-digested food were slowly seeping into his abdominal cavity. I'm not a doctor, but even I know that can't be good. Brock has now undergone a major surgery to resolve the issue, but it's still unknown when, if ever, he'll be fit to defend his heavyweight belt.

No problem, the UFC simply promoted the night's stellar co-main event of Forrest Griffin vs.Tito Ortiz II to main event status. Not a lot of harm was done considering they're two of the world's most popular and best known MMA fighters.

The UFC also booked welterweight showdown between Josh Kosckeck (13-4) and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (8-2) and made it the new co-main event. Both fighters are coming off impressive first-round (T)KO's of their most recent opponents and each will look to use the other to catapult himself into title contention at UFC 106. Please note, if "Rumble" misses weight by six pounds again like he did at UFC 104, he should be banned from trying to fight at a welterweight ever again.

Speaking of lifetime bans, Karo Parisyan (18-5) has been summarily booted from the UFC after he suddenly withdrew from his main card showdown with Dustin Hazelett (12-4). This fight was hotly anticipated by hardcore MMA fans and was being widely framed as a style-clash for the ages between Karo's judo and Hazelett's jiu-jitsu. That said, I suspect that very few people were planning to buy UFC 106 exclusively for Parisyan vs. Hazelett, so not much has been lost there. Besides, the UFC has swiftly promoted another match-up of top welterweights from the under card to the main card to take its place-- Paulo Thiago (11-1) vs. Jakob Volkman (9-0).

Sure, Amir Sadollah (1-1) vs. Phil Baroni (13-1) is a fight that should never have received a main card slot, but the inclusion of light heavyweight Antonio "Little Nog" Nogeuira's (17-3) octagon debut on the pay-per-view portion of the evening more than makes up for it. "Little Nog" is "Big Nog's" smaller brother, who is actually his identical twin. "Little Nog" fights in the lower weight class so that the two can never be asked to fight one another. He's about what you'd expect-- a smaller, faster version of "Big Nog." While he's almost as accomplished as his brother, he isn't known to have "Big Nog's" super-human chin, which might have come in handy against the hard-hitting Luis Cane (10-1). Don't sleep on this fight, it's a real gem.

On top of all that, two of the night's best fights will be shown live and free on Spike TV starting at 6pm/PST. The fights that are guaranteed to air during this commercial free hour are Marcus Davis (16-5) vs. Ben Saunders (7-1-2) and Kendal Grove (10-6) vs. Jake Rosholt (6-1). Also, don't forget that Wednesday night's WEC 44:Brown vs. Aldo will air on TSN starting at 5:00pm/PST.

At the end of the day, it's hard to complain about this Saturday's line up of fights. After all, how often do you get a chance to watch five consecutive hours (5:00-10:00pm/PST) of world-class MMA? Let's not forget either, that the night concludes with the return of one of the sport's most polarizing figures in Tito Ortiz. Will "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" secure a much-needed victory, or will Forrest Griffin exact his long-awaited revenge?

I, for one, am very interested to find out.

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