UFC Nighty Night

Kieran BamfordCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2009

Billed as 'an epic battle of champions' UFC 94, Pierre vs. Penn was hyped as the biggest fight in UFC history.


Though on some fronts the fight, or at least Penn, failed to deliver, most fans were satisfied with St. Pierre's successful title defence.


On the same card, two unbeaten 13-0 warriors went head to head and after a crushing knock-out of Thiago Silva by Lyoto Machida right at the buzzer, fans went wild.


Prior to that at UFC 93, two veterans slugged out an insanely close fight as Rich Franklin lost narrowly to former pride champion Dan Henderson.


At the same event the much-anticipated return of Mark Coleman drew many viewers to see if the original ground and pound stalwart could really still perform at the highest level. Sadly for his fans, Mauricio Rua ruined the party—but fans were entertained even if one eye was already on Pierre vs. Penn.


So with great fights and all the hype in past events many fans are predicting a period of mediocrity. The more discerning fans however might just spot one or two prospects for incredible fights on the next two fight cards.


UFC 95 is headlined by Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson—an unusual headliner but maybe an interesting prospect. Stevenson is a strong fighter and has a great ground game. Sanchez is on a winning streak and wont want it to end any time soon.


Names don't necessarily make a fight, but styles do. These are two impressive jiu-jitsu practitioners and with UFC fans becoming increasingly well versed in the ground game the fight shouldn't disappoint, as Stevenson predicts:


“We have similar styles, although he kicks more than I do. I am looking forward to the fight; Diego is someone who will come at me instead of staying back worried about me taking them down. I think it will be a great fight.”


If you told a UK fan that the card is weak they may have to disagree. With four British fighters on the card the, O2 arena London will be awash with atmosphere and chanting. Any non-native fighters will find themselves the villain no matter how popular they are in US shows.


Michael Bisping may not be gracing the octagon, but many talented young fighters are, with Dan Hardy the standout. Hardy is much-talked about in the UK MMA scene and with his impressive victory over Akahiro Gono he has stamped his mark on the UFC. Now Hardy is ready to take on Rory Markham in what will be both fighters second fight in the UFC and neither fighter will want a loss so early on their UFC record.


Ultimately UFC 95 is a night for prospects. Promising fighters such as Demian Maia, Junior Dos Santos, Terry Etim and Paul Taylor will all be looking to catch the eye of Dana White and Joe Silva. More experienced UFC fighters such as main event fighters Sanchez and Stevenson as well as Josh Koscheck and Nate Marquardt are peppered throughout the card and will ensure the smooth running and professionalism of the night. A card full of promise, delivering British fighters to British fans and offering the best of UFC youth.


Just two weeks later the UFC gives another offering, this time delivering one of the biggest names in the sport in the form of Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. The reformed and rejuvenated Jackson faces the ever present Keith Jardine. Both fighters are coming off the back of solid wins and both like to stand and swing. Potentially a solid fight yet most fans can only see one winner and Jackson proceeding up the ladder to get a shot at the title he wants so badly to retrieve.


The fight card is littered with exciting fighters such as Matt Brown, Matt Hamill, Jason Day and the young Tandem McCrory. The standout fight on the card for many, including the main event, will be Shane Carwin vs Gabriel Gonzaga.


This promises to be an incredible stand up war. The unbeaten Carwin is a giant and looks to be a real contender for the heavyweight throne. Whoever leaves the octagon the victor should find himself named as the number-one heavyweight contender.


With the recent cuts of UFC fighters anyone on a shaky record will literally be fighting for their livelihoods and will be dying to make an impression. While it could lead to nervy performances it is more likely to be extra motivation and give fighters a little more reason to strive for fight of the night.


The big names might not seem to be ever present, but when looking back in a few years, the cards will be seemingly full of huge fighters who were just a little less well known.