Yep, it's back, folks. "What to Watch Out For," your regular series highlighting some interesting nuggets of information to ponder before each major UFC event.
In my last article on the "UFC Debut on Versus" I was surprisingly on point, as we indeed did witness Jon Jones handling the hype and pressure, Junior Dos Santos becoming the "third No.1 contender" to the Heavyweight crown and Brandon Vera proving that maybe he is just not very good.
So before your and the rest of the MMA worlds' eyes are set on Newark, New Jersey for UFC 111, take a read of a few things that I think you should "Watch Out For" on Saturday as well as the fights. You never know, you might learn something.
The "Outlaw" has never escaped the US with a win!
That's right. Despite common misconceptions, Dan Hardy has fought in the United States before. The man who carries the weight of a nation and the whole UK MMA scene on his shoulders, as the first UK fighter to fight for a UFC title has fought twice on American soil, and on both occasions he suffered defeats.
Is this an omen for Dan Hardy?
Probably not, as the last fight was way back in 2006, but it is certainly something to consider especially as all of his UFC fights thus far have been in Europe. The UFC 111 main event marks Dan Hardy's first fight in the United States as a UFC fighter and any fans giving the Brash Brit a chance against Georges St. Pierre won't like this side story.
Will rust be a problem for "The Engineer"?
Shane Carwin's last fight against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 96 was back on March 7, 2009. Come fight night at UFC 111 when Carwin challenges Frank Mir for the Interim-Heavyweight Title, it will be over a year since Carwin last set foot in the octagon.
Ring rust is real, and it will be incredibly interesting to see how Carwin reacts to being back under the bright lights. Having never have a fight leave the first round in his MMA career and his extended absence, we must still ask the question—What is his cardio is like? Frank Mir has already stated he wants to just get through the first round and make Carwin experience sitting on a stool between rounds.
Jon Fitch vs Thiago Alves is more then just a re-match
UFC 111 is certainly a stacked card. Not only do we get the two title fights, we also get to see arguably the No. 2- and No. 3- ranked welterweights in the world square off. Jon Fitch won the last meeting between these two back at UFC Fight Night Five in 2006 by TKO after a nasty up-kick from his back.
Both are very different fighters now, though, and have improved their respective abilities a lot since their last meeting. Many commentators are deeming this as an unofficial No.1 contender fight, but I think this is one of those cases where only one fighter is fighting for a title shot, that being Jon Fitch.
This is a big fight for Alves, who hasn't fought since his loss to GSP back at UFC 100. He needs to avenge his loss to Fitch because another loss would put him on a two-fight losing streak and with a long way back to title contention.
Is it time for Ben "Killa B" Saunders to step up to the next level?
Ben Saunders is huge for his weight class, a young fighter, and has an 11-3 welterweight record, which has included some very interesting fights in his UFC run.
At UFC Fight for the Troops he displayed some of the most vicious Muay Thai knees ever seen in the octagon with his destruction of Brandon Wolff. He followed that with an off-color loss, as he got blown away by Mike Swick at UFC 99, but most recently he was very impressive in beating Marcus Davis at UFC 106.
All of that has left him at 4-1 in the UFC and many feel that he has a very bright future in the league. The question now is, can he back up his great display over Davis by beating Jake Ellenberger at UFC 111? If he does, then Saunders can certainly look forward to a top-10 opponent and the biggest fight of his career as he joins the next level.
Will people finally start to notice Jim Miller after UFC 111?
Jim Miller has amassed an impressive MMA resume (18-2) and a strong UFC record (5-1) with his only UFC loss coming against Gray Maynard at UFC 96. Currently on a three-fight win streak the New Jersey native will be hoping that a strong showing in front of his hometown crowd will put him right in the title mix.
A win over his opponent Mark Bocek at UFC 111 would rank Miller right around No. 5 in the Lightweight Division. With Frankie Edgar facing B.J. Penn at UFC 112, Kenny Florian already having fought the champion, it would certainly put Miller close to a title shot, or at the very least in a No. 1 contender fight. UFC 111 could be a huge night for Jim Miller's career.
'Batman Returns'—Kurt Pellegrino returns to the octagon at UFC 111
Why is this important? Well the other New Jersey native on the card was riding a three-fight win streak before injury removed him from a scheduled fight with Frankie Edgar.
In a division desperate for fresh contenders due to B.J. Penn's dominance, a win for Pellegrino over his opponent Fabricio Camoes would be a big deal. Anyone on a four-fight win streak will be pushing for title contention in the Lightweight Division. If all went to plan, maybe a fight with the aforementioned Jim Miller could happen.
A big night for the "Immortal" Matt Brown
In the biggest fight of his career, Matt Brown gets to welcome Ricardo Almeida to the Welterweight Division at UFC 111. At 4-1 in the UFC and currently riding a three-fight win streak, a win for Matt Brown would be a big deal.
It would catapult him up the ladder and really announce his arrival in the top end of the division. Much like the Lightweight Division, GSP is doing the same to the Welterweight Division in clearing out contenders. A guy on a four-fight win streak would be pushing for a big-name fight next. The loser of Kos vs. Daley or Fitch vs. Alves, which are on the same card could, await Brown if he wins on Saturday night.
Bits and Bobs to Watch Out For:
- Both Frank Mir and Shane Carwin are sporting new tattoos at UFC 111.
- It's the second time Frank Mir has fought for the Interim-Heavyweight Title.
- Dan Hardy's walk-in bandana was designed by his girlfriend.
- Carwin's never leaving the first round of a fight, must be a record at stake, no?
- The last European to hold a UFC Title...Andrei Arlovski back in 2006.
- Thiago Alves last fought back at UFC 100.
- Nate Diaz will make his welterweight debut at UFC 111.
- Ricardo Almeida will also make his welterweight debut at UFC 111.
So there you have it, folks—some things that I hope you've found interesting and should add to the enjoyment of what is a great card for UFC 111. I for one can't wait and I hope Dan Hardy shocks the world.