With UFC 103, and Mayweather vs. Marquez set to hit the airwaves about the same time on Saturday night. The full court press put on these two events thanks to HBO's very polished 24/7 series, and Dana White's incredibly big mouth.
So lets look at some storylines that you might want to keep your mind on, heading into the media blitz.
10. Cutwatch on hold.
While this has become a staple of the last 20 or so UFC cards. The phantom network deal will likely save a lot of fighters bacon for the next two months or so, at the very least.
Fighters like dos Anjos, and Nicky Story can probably feel somewhat safe. The only fighter in real danger for this upcoming card is Frank Trigg, and even that is unlikely.
9. TUF 8 products face stiff test
Lately the consensus is that TUF 8 is by far the worst season of The Ultimate Fighter eva! While I continue to say that 7, and 9 (and lets not forget about 10) are right there with them.
We'll all get to find out when Efrain Escudero, and Eliot Marshall take the center of the octagon on Saturday.
Eliot "The Fire" Marshall will stand across from Jason Brilz, which will certainly be the stiffest test of his career. Brilz brings a well rounded offensive game that will really put Marshall to the test, a test that I can't see him passing.
Escudero will face TUF slayer Cole Miller on the undercard. While I can see Escudero winning this fight over the respected ATT product, he's going to have to bring his big boy pants with him if he wants to do it.
8. Frank Trigg's RNC defense takes center stage.
When looking at this match its easy to write off Frank Trigg as just another old guy put in there to fluff up a name. The real question is with this fight will be can Trigg finally defend a RNC in the Octagon?
So far wrestlers have tormented his stay in the UFC. his famous defeats against Matt Hughes, and Georges St. Pierre, all came by embarrassingly poor rear-naked choke defense.
With this said Koscheck is a guy who's been working his stand up for long spells to his determent in his last few fights, and Trigg is no slouch on his feet. With everybody writing Trigg off will Koscheck fall in love with himself again in a fight he can't afford to lose?
7. Kampmann faces the music
Martin Kampmann hasn't exactly set the world on fire lately. And with the mark of necessity rather than the showcase of skill. The Hitman was thrust into the title picture when he was scheduled to face Mike Swick. Well a minor injury forced "Quick" to the sidelines, and Joe Silva into a mad scramble.
What he's come up with now is a fight that has lose - lose written all over it.
You see if Kampmann can make short work of Daley he gain almost nothing. If he's loses, or struggles for that matter, he'll be taken out of the top 10 in the welterweight division.
Paul Daley is a fighter that mirrors Kampmann's game in a lot of ways, they both prefer to strike, they both have somewhat spotty ground games. I can't see this fight going to anything but a decision.
Which helps no one as far as the title picture goes.
6. It's time to party like its 1999
Vitor Belfort, Frank Trigg, Mirko Cro Cop, Vladimir Matyushenko will all make an appearance at this event, in a trend that will likely continue with the UFC going retro in signings lately.
Color me decidedly skeptical. I love seeing these guys, just not as fluff for other younger fighters... Let's hope one of these guys has a run left in them.
5. A new UFC record
The thirteen fights slated for this event is officially the most fights the UFC will ever put on in one event. With an Preliminary card chalk full of interesting bouts, the UFC will pull no punches on a night they'll go head to head with Mayweather vs. Marquez.
Good things for UFC fans most definitely.
4. Hermes' winged sandals
Hermes Franca will have his surgically repaired right knee tested in his first fight in nearly a year, when he takes on relentless Tyson Griffin.
The former WEC lightweight champion will get all he can handle, and it's unclear how effective he'll be on Saturday night, and considering Tyson Griffin's aggressive in your face boxing and wrestling If his knee isn't 100% its going to be a long night.
His mobility, takedown defense as well as flexibility in guard could all suffer. All thing Tyson Griffin will put to the test. Look for how well the Brazilian moves and attempts to stuff single leg takedowns.
3. Gut check time in co-main event
Everybody loves to use vast generalities when breaking down sports, I get suckered into this to from time to time.
For example you may see a lot of "Old Cro Cop" quotes from various writers.
I however really don't think these hold a lot of water since Cro Cop has recovered from that kick heard round the world, He's been an out of shape over the hill old guy. And no amount of ZUFFA spin can cover that up.
The burden of this fight will fall squarely on the shoulders of Junior dos Santos, if we've learned anything about heavyweight prospects its that they so rarely pan out.
To abridge a line from Dennis Green If he is who we think he is, he'll dismantle the name and make a move towards a title shot. If he's not, the slow, winded Cro Cop will likely out point him on route to a decision.
Either way this is dos Santos' test, not Cro Cop's. And as a member of the Micheal Cro Cop meme you have no idea how hard it is to type that.
2. Can Franklin outpoint Belfort?
Lately Rich Franklin has been a "technical striker" in the mma community that means your shots look real pretty, but you ain't knocking out a fruit fly.
Take that as a slight if you wish, but Ace is what he is. Fighters who can land strikes that hurt him will beat him. Guys who can't will lose decisions as Franklin picks his spots to score, and plays solid defense.
The question we all have to ask now is can Belfort land effective combinations at some point in this fight. If you can fluster Franklin you can beat him, but can he?
If you want to believe the ZUFFA hype, about Vitor's "super fast hands" be my guest, but I'm not quite sure.
1. Two marginal cards; one winner
When the lights fall, and Bruce Buffer walks to the center of the octagon to proclaim that we are live, his brother Micheal will likely be introducing... whoever that guy Mayweather is going to dismantle for 12 rounds.
When you divorce yourself from ansilary details you see five semi interesting fights for $55, and 1 not very interesting boxing bout for $65. You'd think gee this isn't going to be much of a fight.
Bars will likely choose UFC because it's a cheaper licensing cost, and brings out more fans, and diehards of both sports will scoff at each other from across the fantasy room that holds both prizefighting fans.
However with a media thats still asking itself nationwide if they should be covering this or not, as well as a legitimate A class superstar.
Something tells me we'll be getting round by round scoring from Brian Kenny on Sportcenter, and UFC results across the ticker and College Football up the ying yang.
Ask any NASDAQ top 100 CEO what a huge advantage in marketing means, and you'll see my point.
Dana White will be quick to point out that Mayweather's not a big name. the best he's ever done without Oscar wast 350k buys, but I could say the UFC didn't do over a 500k buys until the TUF 1 season finale, but thats kind of irrelevant now isn't it.
Once you slay the name you become one. This is tried, and true in all of prizefighting lore. When Mayweather beat Oscar, then technically knocked out Ricky Hatton. He became a star.
Just like Anderson Silva did when he destroyed Rich Franklin the second time, and just like Randy Couture did when he shocked the world and dominated Liddell.
Jim Lapley won't have to face the music just yet. As I see a closely contested win for boxing.
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