The UFC returns to action this Saturday night as they present UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami, from the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany. The show will air as a free event on Spike TV on tape delay, with the broadcast scheduled to air at 9 PM eastern time, 8 PM central time, and 6 PM pacific time.
The main event features a battle between top middleweight contenders Nate "The Great" Marquardt and Yushin "Thunder" Okami, which will determine the next contender at the middleweight title.
The night's semi-main event will be between sluggers Jorge "El Conquistador" Rivera and Alessio "Legionarius" Sakara.
Other fights scheduled to air on the night's main card are German knockout artist Dennis Siver taking on Andre Winner, former winner of The Ultimate Fighter Amir Sadollah squaring off against Peter Sobotta, and "The Polish Experiment" Krzysztof Soszynski battling Goran Reljic in the night's opening contest.
The night's unaired card features Vladimir Matyushenko, Kyle Noke, Seth "The Silverback" Petruzelli and Duane "Bang" Ludwig competing in fights.
Like many UFC shows on Spike TV, UFC 122 features many alumni of The Ultimate Fighter, with Sadollah, Rivera, Winner, Soszynski, Noke, Petruzelli, Nick Ospiczak and Kris McCray all fighting on this show.
Here is your fight-by-fight breakdown of the night's action.
Nate Marquardt (30-9-2, 9-3 UFC) vs. Yushin Okami (25-5, 9-2 UFC)
This will be a No. 1 Contender's fight for the UFC Middleweight Title. Marquardt is a replacement for Vitor Belfort, Okami's original opponent, who was moved to face Anderson Silva for the title when Chael Sonnen failed a drug test following UFC 117.
Marquardt comes into the fight off of a win over Rousimar Palhares at UFC Fight Night 22 in September, and this fight is a quick turnaround for him, as that fight was less than two months ago.
Marquardt is looking to make it two in a row, after losing to Sonnen at UFC 109 in February, and is looking for another shot at Silva, who defeated him at UFC 73 in July 2007, or perhaps a first shot at Belfort.
Marquardt's only other UFC loss is to Thales Leites, and he holds wins over Demian Maia, Jeremy Horn, Martin Kampmann and Dean Lister.
Okami is looking to make it three in a row, with wins over Mark Munoz and Lucio Linhares coming in his last two fights. Okami has only lost twice in the UFC, to former champion Rich Franklin and former top contender Sonnen, and has victories over Mike Swick, Alan Belcher and the late Evan Tanner to his credit in the UFC.
Okami also holds a win over champion Silva in a fight that took place in Hawaii in 2006, before both men made it to the UFC.
Both fighters are hard to finish, so don't expect either guy to get knocked out. Marquardt trains at the Greg Jackson camp, and is a well-rounded veteran who does have a black belt in jiu-jitsu. He primarily likes to keep the fight standing, and mixes his strikes well, coming at his opponents with punches, kicks and standing elbows.
Okami, who has been training recently with Sonnen and Team Quest, has great conditioning and strong wrestling. He likes to stand and pick his shots, and is very good in the clinch. If he is able to take his opponents down, he is very strong when in top control, and is very hard to get out from under.
Marquardt is going to have to avoid the clinch and keep the fight standing and strike effectively. If Okami gets it to the ground, Marquardt is going to have to remain active on the bottom looking for submissions, and try to find an opening to sweep Okami.
They will likely grind each other out, and don't be surprised to see it go to the judges and be a close fight.
Prediction: Marquardt by decision
Jorge Rivera (18-7, 7-5 UFC) vs. Alessio Sakara (15-7 1 NC, 6-4 1 NC UFC)
This fight was originally scheduled to happen at UFC 118 in August before Rivera suffered a broken arm in training, and the fight was re-scheduled for this show.
Both fighters are looking for their fourth win in a row.
Rivera last competed at UFC Fight Night 21 in March, defeating Nate Quarry by TKO in a fight that he dominated. Rivera's win streak also includes wins over Rob Kimmons and Nissen Osterneck.
Rivera is a long-time veteran of mixed martial arts, and participated on the comeback season of The Ultimate Fighter. Rivera has competed in fights against Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, Martin Kampmann and Anderson Silva, so he's been in there with top fighters.
Sakara enters the fight with a TKO win over James Irvin at the UFC On Versus 1 show in March, and holds a decision win over Thales Leites and a KO win over Joe Vedepo in his current win streak.
Sakara, much like Rivera, has seen a resurgence in his career, going from the possibility of being cut to being safely in the organization for now. Sakara, also a pro boxer, last suffered a loss to Chris Leben at UFC 82 in March 2008, so he hasn't lost in over two and a half years.
Both fighters like to stand and trade punches, and Rivera works with boxing coach Peter Welch in that department, and Sakara comes from the American Top Team camp in Florida.
Rivera likes to mix his Muay Thai, and has some underrated jiu-jitsu skills, but he rarely has to show them off as he keeps fights standing, always willing to entertain fans with a slugfest. Rivera is tough, and hard to finish unless you catch him with a clean shot, and likes to keep the fight coming.
Sakara will hold the advantage in the stand-up with the boxing background, and he does hold a brown belt in jiu-jitsu should the fight hit the ground.
Sakara seemingly remains relaxed as the fight wears on, and likes to pick his shots effectively, and is highly effective when in the pocket. For Sakara to win this, he's going to have to pick his shots and out-strike Rivera.
Prediction: Rivera by TKO in round 2
Dennis Siver (16-7, 5-4 UFC) vs. Andre Winner (11-4-1, 2-2 UFC)
Siver gets the opportunity to fight in the octagon in his home country for a second time. He is looking for his second win in a row after having defeated Spencer Fisher at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in June. That victory followed a loss to Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 21 in March that ended Siver's winning streak at four.
This is Siver's second stint in the UFC, and he has gone 4-1 after going 1-3 in his first stint that featured losses to Gray Maynard and Melvin Guillard. He has wins over Fisher, Nate Mohr, Paul Kelly and Dale Hartt in this run in the organization.
Winner, a finalist in season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter, is looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Nik Lentz in an uneventful fight at UFC 118 in August.
That stopped his win streak at two, having defeated Rafaello Oliveira and Roli Delgado in his previous bouts after losing to Ross Pearson at The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 Finale in June 2009. Winner needs a win here or he could be looking at returning to the smaller promotions.
Siver is a dangerous kickboxer and a sambo expert that likes to keep fights standing. He is a huge lightweight and puts everything into his shots. He will likely land the heavier shots. He does hold a purple belt in jiu-jitsu if the fight goes to the ground. He has shown a deadly roundhouse kick that has put people away before.
Winner has a lot of physical ability and has shown good progression in his previous fights. He is very good in the clinch and attacks with knees while there, and utilizes the dirty boxing tactics. He does have some trouble with wrestlers, so he will have to use his karate background to keep a distance from Siver's sambo background.
This will likely produce some good back and forth stand-up action with Winner being more crisp and smooth while Siver being able to land the heavier shots. Siver might just be too strong for Winner. A potential fight of the night candidate.
Prediction: Siver by decision
Amir Sadollah (3-2, 3-2 UFC) vs. Peter Sobotta (8-3, 0-2 UFC)
Sadollah is only one of two fighters (Matt Mitrione being the other) to have all of his career professional fights occur in the UFC. Sadollah entered season 7 of The Ultimate Fighter with only three amateur fights and no professional fights, but ended up being a surprise and winning that season.
Sadollah has had some ups and downs since winning The Ultimate Fighter, having defeated CB Dollaway in the finals. He battled through some injuries and didn't have his first fight until over a year later, losing quickly to Johny Hendricks at UFC 101 in August 2009. He bounced back with wins over Phil Baroni and Brad Blackburn before running into a loss to Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 114 in May.
Sobotta is likely in a do-or-die fight in the UFC. He entered the UFC in June 2009 with an 8-1 record, but suffered a loss to Paul Taylor at UFC 99, also in Germany. Military commitments kept him out of action for a year, and Sobotta returned at UFC 115, losing by decision to James Wilks. Two losses to start a UFC career usually end in being cut, but Sobotta gets one last shot in his home country.
Sadollah trains at many of the gyms in Las Vegas, spending time at Xtreme Couture and Wanderlei Silva's gym, and holds a black belt in sambo, a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, and has very good muay thai technique. He is a smallish welterweight, but he mixes in a good clinch game with heavy knees and sharp kicks to wear down his opponents. He has been working to improve his takedowns, but his takedown defense is still looking for improvement.
Sobotta is a kickboxer with good submission wrestling who is a good match-up in styles for Sadollah. He has good kicks and mixes combinations well, and will let his hands fly. Much like his opponent, Sobotta is a smallish welterweight, but won't have much of a size advantage or disadvantage here.
Both guys are exciting fighters, and Sadollah is a very cerebral fighter. A potential fight of the night contender.
Prediction: Sadollah by decision
Krzysztof Soszynski (21-10-1, 4-2 UFC) vs. Goran Reljic (8-2, 1-2 UFC)
Soszynski, a season 8 castmember of The Ultimate Fighter, enters the fight off of a two-fight war with Stephan Bonnar, which was split 1-1. Soszynski won the first fight at UFC 110, however it was due to a cut from an accidental headbutt. They rematched at UFC 116 in July, and Bonnar defeated Soszynski by TKO in round 2 in one of the best fights of 2010. Those two fights followed a loss to Brandon Vera at UFC 102 for Soszynski, which halted a three-fight win streak for him to start his UFC career, which included wins over Brian Stann, Andre Gusmao and Shane Primm.
A former professional wrestler, Soszynski fought in the IFL prior to entering the UFC, fighting the likes of Ben Rothwell, Reese Andy and Mike Whitehead.
Reljic enters the fight in a must-win situation. The Croatian stormed into the UFC in 2008 with a 7-0 record and made a splash in his debut at UFC 84 with a TKO win over Wilson Gouveia. Reljic was supposed to compete at UFC 90 in October 2008, but a serious back injury kept him out of action for nearly two years. He returned at UFC 110, this time at middleweight, losing to CB Dollaway and then losing to Kendall Grove at UFC 116 in July. The tough weight cut and subsequent two losses prompted Reljic to move back to light heavyweight for this fight.
Soszynski is very stout, and has good submissions and good wrestling. He has power in his hands, as evidenced by his knockout of Gusmao, but he doesn't find the need to be flashy, and is in effect a grinder. He will have a disadvantage in the speed department, and is going to have to find a way to neutralize Reljic's advantage in the stand-up department.
Reljic is a good kickboxer, and has a very good ground game, holding a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and having won jiu-jitsu championships in Europe. He moves back to a natural weight class here, and should have the advantage in the stand-up and speed departments. If he has enough space to set up angles, Reljic will use his leg kicks to try and chop Soszynski down.
Soszynski is going to have to take the fight to the ground and hope to maintain top position to find the win, as Reljic should have enough offensive variety to make it a tough fight standing.
Prediction: Reljic by decision
Kyle Noke (17-4-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Rob Kimmons (23-5, 3-2 UFC)
Noke was a castmember of season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, and made his UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale in June, defeating Josh Bryant by TKO in the second round. Prior to appearing in the UFC, Noke competed in EliteXC and regional promotions in his homeland of Australia, having competed against George Sotiropoulos, Hector Lombard and Scott Smith in his career.
Kimmons enters his sixth fight in the UFC having defeated Steve Steinbeiss at the UFC On Versus 2 event in August. He has alternated wins and losses in his UFC stint, with wins over Joe Vedepo and Rob Yundt and losses to Dan Miller and Jorge Rivera.
Noke trains with the Greg Jackson camp and is looking for his fourth win in a row. He served as a bodyguard for the late Steve Irwin, better known as "The Crocodile Hunter". Kimmons trains out of his home state of Missouri at Team Grindhouse, and is a 3rd degree black belt in American jiu-jitsu under Steve Crawford.
Noke is skilled in the boxing game, but as evident in his loss to Kris McCray on the reality show, can be taken down. Noke has no doubt worked to improve his takedown defense, and he showed great stand-up technique in his dominant win over Bryant, mixing devestating leg kicks and precise punching.
Kimmons has shown the ability to dominate people on the ground and use his high-level submission skills to put people away, with 14 of his 23 wins coming by submission, and both of his submission wins in the UFC have been with the guillotine choke.
Kimmons is going to have to get the fight to the ground to win, as Noke should light him up standing. If Noke can show improved takedown defense and keep it standing, he should be able to control the fight. Noke should be able to keep the distance and shove off takedown attempts, and if it does go to the ground, Noke is good enough to shove off submission attempts, though it will be a battle.
Prediction: Noke by TKO in round 2
Vladimir Matyushenko (24-5, 5-3 UFC) vs. Alexandre Ferreira (18-6, 0-0 UFC)
Matyushenko looks to bounce back from a quick destruction at the hands of Jon Jones at the UFC On Versus 2 event in early August. That fight ended a three-fight winning streak for the longtime veteran, which included two wins in his return to the UFC over Igor Pokrajac at UFC 103 and Eliot Marshall at UFC On Versus 1 in March. Matyushenko, the former IFL Light Heavyweight Champion, made his MMA debut in 1997, and has fought a lot of tough opponents, including Tito Ortiz, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Andrei Arlovski.
Ferreira makes his UFC debut in this fight on a seven-fight winning streak. He is an injury replacement for Jason Brilz, with about a little over a month to prepare for this fight. Like Matyushenko, Ferreira has been around for a long time, debuting in 1998, and has fought some tough guys, including Heath Herring, Branden Lee Hinkle and Fabio Maldonado.
Matyushenko is primarily a wrestler, and owns his own gym, the VMAT Training Facility in California, and trains many fighters. Ferreira is a legend in the submission grappling world, and the sport of Luta Livre in Brazil. He was a runner-up in 2003 and 2005 in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club grappling tournaments.
Matyushenko is going to have to use his superb takedowns and his strong submission defense in this fight, as he's facing a submission expert. In Ferreira's 18 wins, 17 of them have come by submission. The short time for preparation for Ferreira having taken the fight on short notice could hurt him in the conditioning, and if Matyushenko can stay in top control and avoid the submissions, Matyushenko could wear down Ferreira easily.
Matyushenko's striking will likely be too much for Ferreira here, and if it stays standing, Matyushenko will likely light Ferreira up here. Matyushenko will also have to exploit the height advantage, with him being 6' 1" and Ferreira only being 5' 7" This is an intriguing match-up, and a potential fight of the night contender.
Prediction: Matyushenko by decision
Pascal Krauss (9-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Mark Scanlon (7-0, 0-0 UFC)
This fight marks the UFC debuts for both Krauss and Scanlon. They are the type of fighters that generally get on these type of cards- international fighters for foreign events.
Scanlon is an injury replacement for Krauss' original opponent, Kenny Robertson, and is taking the fight on one month's notice.
Krauss is making his UFC debut in his home country of Germany. He is known as one of the best welterweight prospects to ever come out of Germany. He made his mixed martial arts debut in January 2008, and has started off his career with nine straight wins, all by stoppage, with seven coming by submission and two by TKO, and no fight getting past the second round.
Scanlon trains with the Team Kaobon team in England, and trains heavily in Luta Livre, much like his training partner Terry Etim. His career began in 2006, and he has rattled off seven straight wins to start his career, and like his opponent Krauss, all of his wins have come by stoppage, with five by submission and two by KO/TKO. Scanlon has battled some nagging injuries in his career, not fighting at all in 2009 because of them.
Krauss has shown great striking, and is very knowledgeable in wrestling, having wrestled since the age of 15, something most foreign fighters seem to have a disadvantage in. He will likely hold an advantage in the conditioning department over Scanlon as Scanlon had less time to fully prepare for the fight being a late replacement. Scanlon should hold the advantage in the strength department, and both men are really good on the ground, with the slight edge likely going to Krauss.
This should be a really exciting bout, and is a potential fight of the night contender.
Prediction: Krauss by submission in round 2
Duane Ludwig (19-11, 2-2 UFC) vs. Nick Osipczak (5-2, 2-2 UFC)
This fight is likely a do-or-die fight for both men in the UFC, as they are both entering the fight with two consecutive losses, and a third likely means an end to their current stint in the UFC.
Ludwig returns from a gruesome injury suffered in his last fight against Darren Elkins at the UFC On Versus 1 event in March. Early in the fight, Ludwig suffered a broken leg and the fight was stopped, so while it was a loss, it wasn't a loss in the sense of the word. Ludwig was looking to bounce back there after losing in his UFC return at UFC 108 to Jim Miller. This is Ludwig's second run in the UFC, as he defeated Genki Sudo at UFC 42 way back in April 2003, and Jonathan Goulet back in January 2006. Ludwig has fought over the world against many tough opponents, including BJ Penn, Tyson Griffin, Takanori Gomi, Jens Pulver and Josh Thomson.
Osipczak, a season 9 castmember and semi-finalist of The Ultimate Fighter, looks to start a new winning streak after suffering back to back decision losses to Rick Story at UFC 112 and Greg Soto at UFC 118. Those two losses ended a five-fight winning streak to start Osipczak's career, which all came by stoppage, including UFC victories over Matt Riddle and Frank Lester.
This is a return to the welterweight division for Ludwig after competing as a lightweight in recent years. Ludwig trains in Colorado at the Grudge Training Center under Trevor Wittman, and is a muay thai kickboxer who holds a 43-5 kickboxing record, and 10 of his 19 MMA wins have come by KO/TKO.
Osipczak trains with Team Rough House in England and is well-versed in kung fu. He has improving striking skills, and has three submission wins to his credit in his five career wins. He is taller than Ludwig, and if he can avoid the kickboxing and muay thai of Ludwig, and if Osipczak can get the fight to the ground, Ludwig has shown a tendency to be submitted. Ludwig is going to have to find a way to leg kick Osipczak down in order to win.
Prediction: Osipczak by submission in round 1
Seth Petruzelli (14-5, 0-3 UFC) vs. Karlos Vemola (7-1, 0-1 UFC)
This is another likely do-or-die fight for these competitors.
Petruzelli, a season 2 castmember of The Ultimate Fighter, last fought at UFC 116 in July, losing to Ricardo Romera by submission. This is the second stint in the UFC for Petruzelli, and he is still searching for his first win in the octagon, with prior losses in 2006 to Matt Hamill and in 2007 to Wilson Gouveia. Petruzelli is most famously known for his 14-second knockout of Kimbo Slice on CBS in EliteXC, and is called "the man who single-handedly killed EliteXC" by UFC commentator Joe Rogan.
Vemola made his UFC debut at UFC 116 in July, losing to Jon Madsen by decision in a lackluster fight. That was Vemola's first professional loss, as he had compiled seven straight wins before entering the UFC in fights in smaller promotions in England, all by stoppage in the first round.
Petruzelli owns his own gym in Florida, called The Jungle MMA and Fitness, and has been competing since 2000, and has fought at heavyweight in the past. He holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is a 3rd degree black belt in Shito-ryu Karate.
Vemola, who trains out of the London Shootfighters camp in England, had previously competed in the heavyweight division, but is making the drop to light heavyweight for this fight.
Petruzelli is going to have to rely on his prior K-1 kickboxing skills in this fight. Vemola has shown that his stand-up needs a lot of work, and if Petruzelli can keep it standing, he will likely be able to find Vemola's chin rather easily. If the fight goes to the ground, Vemola is going to have to use his size to maintain top control. This fight will likely signal the end of someone's UFC career.
Prediction: Petruzelli by TKO in round 2
Kris McCray (5-1, 0-1 UFC) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (8-0, 0-0 UFC)
McCray was a season 11 finalist of The Ultimate Fighter, losing to Court McGee by submission in the finale in June. It marked the end of an up and down season on the reality show, where he won his quaifier fight over Cleburn Walker, but lost his first fight to Josh Bryant. He was then chosen to fight in the wild-card fight, where he defeated Kyacey Uscola, then defeated Kyle Noke and Bryant in a rematch to make it to the finals. The loss to McGee marked McCray's first professional fight.
Rocha makes his UFC debut here coming in with a perfect 8-0 record. Despite being born in Brazil, all of Rocha's previous fights have taken place in Germany, where this show will take place. Of Rocha's eight wins, seven have come by submission, and only one fight has gotten past the first round.
McCray, who competed on the reality show as a middleweight, is making the drop to welterweight for this fight. He was born in Germany while his father was stationed there in the Army, and asked to compete on this show.
In a strange coincidence, both McCray and Rocha train out of Toms River, New Jersey, where McCray has been working with the Renzo Gracie camp and Rocha trains out of the Darcio Lira Jiu-Jitsu camp.
McCray is going to have to look out for the submission in this fight. He will have the advantage in the wrestling department, but it's no secret that Rocha is going to want to get this fight to the ground. If McCray can avoid the submission, he could find a way to get a win, but that's a big if, and a loss here could signal a trip back to the smaller shows for McCray. Rocha's best and only real chance to win the fight is to find that submission he'll be searching for.
This fight is a good way to open the night's card and is an underrated pick for potential fight of the night.
Prediction: Rocha by submission in round 1
There you have it.
Once again, UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami comes to you from the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen Germany, this Saturday, Nov. 13, at 9 PM ET on tape delay on Spike TV.
It's shaping up to be an interesting night of fights. Here is the card rundown with your betting odds.
- Nate Marquardt (-220) vs. Yushin Okami (+175)
- Jorge Rivera (-120) vs. Alessio Sakara (-110)
- Dennis Siver (-140) vs. Andre Winner (+110)
- Amir Sadollah (-350) vs. Peter Sobotta (+250)
- Krzysztof Soszynski (-115) vs. Goran Reljic (-115)
- Kyle Noke (-240) vs. Rob Kimmons (+190)
- Vladimir Matyushenko (-300) vs. Alexandre Ferreira (+220)
- Pascal Krauss (-220) vs. Mark Scanlon (+175)
- Duane Ludwig (+200) vs. Nick Osipczak (-260)
- Seth Petruzelli (-115) vs. Karlos Vemola (-115)
- Kris McCray (-110) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (-120)
Enjoy the fights everyone.