Recently the UFC began having Spike TV air at least two under card fights before their Pay-Per-View portion of the evenings begin and that means more exposure for the prelim fighters.
Let’s take a look at some of the bouts which will take place prior to the main card showdowns.
Patrick Barry (5-1) vs. Antoni Hardonk (13-5) : These two former K1 kickboxers (who have trained together in the past) both look to rebound in the heavyweight division after suffering losses in their past fights. Barry and Hardonk are durable and possess crushing stand-up games. Look for this fight to go to the man who closes the distance and becomes the aggressor.
Yushin Okami (27-4) vs. Chael Sonnen (34-10-1): Okami has quietly put together an excellent record in the UFC and has won his last three fights after losing to then-champion Rich Franklin. Chael Sonnen enters the fight with enough experience at 45 pro fights to handle himself early on on the bout but will have to be cautious in the clinch with the powerful Okami. Many, including myself, feel Yushin has been deserving of more spotlight and he’ll likely receive a main card fight in his next outing if he’s victorious Saturday night.
Rob Kimmons (26-4) vs. Jorge Rivera (23-7): Fan favorite Jorge Rivera returns this weekend against Rob Kimmons, after having previously dispensed of prospect Nissen Osterneck via decision. Kimmons is a big threat on the ground with his holding a 3rd degree black belt in American Jiu-Jitsu under Steve Crawford, so look for Rivera to keep this one standing. Jorge’s power in his hands and takedown defense will be keys to potential victory.
Ryan Bader (9-0) vs. Eric Schafer (16-3): This bout is scheduled to air on the Spike TV portion of the night and features two light heavyweights seeking a step up on the crowded 205 lbs. ladder. Bader won season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter and has won a fight since then (Carmelo Marrrero) while Schafer has made a successful return to the big show with two recent submission and TKO victories (Houston Alexander and Antonio Mendes). “Darth” and “Ravishing Red” could very well cancel each other out on the mat so it’s predicted that we’ll see quite a bit of stand-up action here. Bader holds the advantage in power (see win over Vinny in TUF 8 Finale) but the edge in technique nods to Schafer. Expect a fun battle when these two meet.
Razak Al-Hassan (8-1) vs. Kyle Kingsbury (10-2): In this fight for survival in the UFC we’ll see Tae Kwon Do expert Al-Hassan meet college football beast turned mixed martial artist Kingsbury. Both men have enough power on their feet to end the bout with a knockout but Kingsbury may want to take things to the ground where he can use his skills picked up while training at American Kickboxing Academy. Al-Hassan showed in his last fight against Steve Cantwell that his lack of Jiu Jitsu is certainly an area to be exploited by opponents.
Chase Gormley (6-0) vs. Stefan Struve (20-3): Undefeated Gormley has showed his well-rounded skills in competing on the local circuit since beginning in 2007 and will now compete in the big time against the towering Struve (6′ 11″). “The Skyscraper” often seeks the submission win so Gormley may come into this match planning to keep it standing but that doesn’t mean he’ll easily close the distance. Quite honestly, there are a lot of questions here in regards to how things will go when these heavyweights meet but I’d be willing to bet early round action will be certain.