Each month, Deadspin will preview the upcoming UFC fight for those readers who enjoy watching two men beat the living crap out of each other in an octagon-shaped ring. "Human cockfighting", as Sen. John McCain once called it. Today, David Andrest, a contributing writer to MMA blog Five Ounces Of Pain, gives us the rundown on UFC 89. This Saturday the original bad boy of Ultimate Fighter fame Chris Leben will face off with Season three winner and hometown hero Michael Bisping at UFC 89 from the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. The event will be broadcast live on Setanta Sports in England and will be shown free of charge to American fans on Spike TV. While the fight card lacks a traditional main event made up of two elite fighters battling for a title, it is stacked from top to bottom with fights that are both well matched, and meaningful.
Paul Kelly vs. Marcus Davis Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis is coming off a very disappointing decision loss in his last fight. He is a former Golden Gloves champion who over the last couple of years has consistently improved his skills and enters this fight well rounded and ready. Paul Kelly enters the fight on the heels of an impressive decision victory at UFC 80. Davis holds an decided advantage on the feet, while Kelly would have a slight advantage on the ground. Paul Kelly has shown a willingness to stand and trade punches with his opponents which could make this bout a "Fight of the Night" candidate. This fight should prove to be a stand-up war early as both fighters are known to press the action. While Kelly holds a slight advantage on the ground, Davis has shown an improved take down defense that should allow him to keep this fight standing long enough to land a right hook that will end the fight.
Paul Taylor vs. Chris Lytle Both of these fighters are well known as two of the most exciting in their division. Each man will enter the cage with a well thought out game plan that will be quickly abandoned the instant the bell rings to signal the start of round 1. Paul Taylor enters the fight coming off a decision win, while Lytle will look to bounce back from a recent decision loss. What holds true is both men are in need of a victory to keep pace in the UFC's ultra competitive welterweight division. Paul Taylor is a striker with a very limited ground game, Chris Lytle is strong on his feet and has the superior skill on the ground in this fight. Taylor needs to tempt Lytle into standing with him, and suspect this will not be difficult early on. As the fight wears on, I look for Lytle to take this fight to the floor and submit Taylor for the win.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Luis Arthur Cane Sokoudjou and Cane both enter this fight coming off victories after making less than successful UFC debuts. Both men have impressive power that can end this fight with one punch. Despite betting lines that might tell a different story, this fight is very evenly matched on the feet. Sokoudjou is the larger and stronger of the two fighters, while Cane is the more aggressive. If this fight remains standing I give the edge to Cane, however if this fight goes to the ground, Sokoudjou's size and strength will prove to be too much for the Brazilian. I see the two fighters exchanging early with Cane taking this bout via TKO.
Keith Jardine vs. Brandon Vera Keith Jardine and Brandon Vera are both in a position in their fight careers where a loss in this fight will make the road back to the top a very long one. Jardine is coming off a nightmare loss to Wanderlei Silva, while Vera is coming off the least impressive decision victory in history over Reese Andy in his light heavyweight debut. Brandon Vera was once thought to be the future of the Heavyweight division. Impressive wins over fighters you have never heard of had Vera's stock on the rise. Vera then posted back to back losses to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum which caused the UFC to suggest a move to light heavyweight. Vera is a talented MuayThai striker who has not reached his true potential, a win over Jardine would set him on the right track. Keith Jardine is a quiet man in a very deep and charismatic light heavyweight division. Jardine holds impressive victories over both current light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin and former champion Chuck Liddell. Jardine was derailed on his way to a title shot in brutal fashion by Wanderlei Silva who knocked out the "Dean of Mean" in just :39 seconds of their fight. Jardine has a history of bouncing back from devastating losses with impressive wins, and this fight will be no exception. Vera has not had an impressive victory over a top level opponent in his career, with his one notable win coming over a broken down Frank Mir in 2006. Jardine will bring his unorthodox stance, leg kicks, and KO power to the cage and wear down Vera to set up the eventual knock out.
Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben Both Bisping and Leben enter this fight coming off victories, as they attempt to climb the middleweight ladder and make their way to a fight with champion Anderson Silva. Bisping is physically the larger fighter, and a recent drop to middleweight has proven beneficial in both speed and stamina. Leben is the more experienced fighter, and has been working on improving all areas of his game. I had an opportunity to speak with Chris Leben to get his thoughts about this fight. " I think it will be a good fight. He has good foot work and punches straighter, I hit harder." Leben said. " I don't think he will want to stand in front of me. I'll have to work hard in this fight, and try and make sure he doesn't run for three rounds like he did against ( Matt) Hammil. I really need to make sure I win every round in a very decisive way if for some reason I don't finish him." This fight could prove to be a classic battle between power puncher and technical striker Bisping hasn't shown great power, and Leben has proven he has one of the best chins in the sport. Leben has always been willing to eat a few punches to get off a shot or two of his own. The ground advantage is Leben's with much more experience and technical skills. Bisping will need to use his superior foot work to keep Leben at a distance while throwing the jab and scoring points. There will come a point in this fight where the fighters will exchange and Leben will knock out Bisping for the win. David Andrest is a contributor to Fiveouncesofpain.com a website dedicated to bringing fans Insider mixed martial arts news and opinion.