UFC 91 Preview

Jordan KatzCorrespondent INovember 14, 2008

At 6’3" and 265 pounds of sculpted muscle, Brock Lesnar is living proof that giants still walk the earth.

In what is shaping up to be the biggest fight in UFC history, the behemoth Lesnar will fight legendary heavyweight champion, Randy Couture.

Although Lesnar’s rise to No. 1 contender has been fast, there is no denying his appeal or considerable talents. Never has the world of MMA seen such a physical specimen with as much athletic ability. While Lesnar’s career is in its infancy, Couture has been one of the ambassadors of the sport for over a decade.

If Lesnar stormed out of his corner, took Couture down immediately, and TKO’d him in the first round, it would not be a surprise. Lesnar is simply that explosive. He has the capabilities to be that dangerous.

The problem remains, though, that nobody knows what to expect. There is a major unknown factor with Lesnar based on his inexperience. The big man has never been hit with a big shot. He has never been dragged into deep waters. And it’s simply unknown how he will respond to the pressure.

This is where Couture has the glaring advantage. He has fought the world’s best…and won. Couture has been involved in five-round wars before...and won. Outweighed by over 20 pounds and his chances of winning considered minimal against Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga, Couture still managed to prevail.

The perennial underdog has made a career out of defying the odds. He has a wealth of experience that cannot be measure in tangible statistics. When he meets Lesnar, the world will discover just how valuable experience really is or is not.

All logic points to Lesnar wanting to end the fight quickly. The longer Lesnar allows Couture to get comfortable, the more dangerous he becomes. It will be essential for Couture to weather the early storm and not allow himself to be overwhelmed.

In all likelihood, Couture is going to utilize some dirty boxing. He’s going to close the distance, clinch with Lesnar, and attempt to pick him off with precise punches.

Essentially, Couture will attempt to use the same strategy he did when he fought Gonzaga. Couture will also display sound techniques. By taking crafty angles, using constant head movement, and feinting jabs and kicks, Couture will try and keep Lesnar guessing.

The question remains: Can a more technical and experienced fighter overcome one who is far more physically gifted? This writer believes it’s possible despite it’s unlikelihood. Lesnar has man handled his previous opponents, stunning them early on in the fight. If Lesnar does so against Couture, he will not recover. But, if Couture can execute a calculated strategic game plan, he may pull off the upset.

Many pundits have dismissed Lesar as a deserving contender. In truth, Lesnar has not earned a title shot. His domination of Heath Herring does not warrant a fight of this magnitude.

But, his popularity cannot be ignored and the UFC wants the biggest fights possible. The fight is more of a spectacle than a championship bout. It’s about old school versus the new, David versus Goliath, and the allure of Couture pulling off yet another unthinkable upset.

The fight is expected to be the UFC’s biggest of all-time. While Lesnar has the overall advantages, Couture can never be counted out. The wily veteran may still have one trick up his sleeve. Couture will welcome Lesnar to the big leagues with a timeless performance that forever cements his legacy.

Prediction: Randy Couture by Decision

Kenny Florian versus Joe Stevenson

Years ago, who would have ever believed Kenny Florian would be mentioned amongst the world’s best lightweights?

But, the scrawny, unassuming, scrappy Boston kid from the first Ultimate Fighter has truly become an elite fighter over time.

Florian is a throwback fighter; he is old school. The guy only wants to fight the best. His training regiment is intense. He tries to finish his opponents. His attitude is always respectful. Winning the title is important, but testing himself against the elite comes first.

At UFC 91, Florian will have his opportunity when he faces another upper echelon fighter in Joe Stevenson. Both fighters have hovered around the top of the division. A win would solidify both as top contenders.

Powerful wrestlers have always been problematic for the undersized Florian. Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez took him down with ease. Stevenson has a similar pedigree and may attempt to implement the same strategy.

While Stevenson has the wrestling edge, Florian is far more versatile. Stevenson is rather one dimensional, where as, Florian does everything well. Additionally, Florian is a cerebral fighter who always comes prepared with an effective strategy.

Fans who find blood disconcerting may want to avoid this one. These guys are going to bust each other up and elbows are going to fly. Stevenson has the propensity to get cut and it could very well happen in this fight. Florian may be put on his back, but he’s going to outwork Stevenson.

Kenflo will use his jab to set up combos. His elbows will also find their mark off his back. While this fight will be close, Florian will win a workman’s like decision by displaying an array of mixed martial arts skills.

Prediction: Kenny Florian by Decision

Demian Maia versus Nate Quarry

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard, Maia, is no longer the division’s sleeper. Instead, he is being touted as a legitimate contender who is quickly climbing the middleweight ladder. His fight against Quarry will provide him an opportunity to live up to the hype.

It’s an important fight for Maia. Quarry will be the first opponent he has fought who contains knockout power and lethal striking. If Maia is unable to take Quarry down, he will be forced to divulge how evolved his striking has become.

In previous bouts, Maia demonstrated a mastery of ground tactics submitting opponents with ease (although Jason McDonald impressed with his resiliency). His ground game is so smooth that Maia is constantly looking for a submission finish.

Quarry is best remembered for being the victim of a ruthless KO courtesy of Rich Franklin. Despite that, Quarry is a solid fighter. He has a tough chin, sharp jab, decent wrestling moves and solid physical strength.

His movement is slow and plodding though, so he may be overmatched by a Maia’s quickness. This match should be interesting stylistically, but it shouldn’t last long.

Prediction: Maia by submission, Round One

For more MMA information, current news and my writing, go to cagetoday.com


    Iaquinta on Weigh-In Policy Change: 'Dana Is Out of Line'

    MMA logo

    Iaquinta on Weigh-In Policy Change: 'Dana Is Out of Line'

    Brett Okamoto
    via ESPN.com

    Roufus Expecting a ‘Special’ Pettis to Show Up at 226

    MMA logo

    Roufus Expecting a ‘Special’ Pettis to Show Up at 226

    Bloody Elbow
    via Bloody Elbow

    IMG to Bring Rorion Gracie's Story to Screen

    MMA logo

    IMG to Bring Rorion Gracie's Story to Screen

    Mike Fleming
    via Deadline

    Jon Jones Opens as Heavy Favorite Over Lesnar

    MMA logo

    Jon Jones Opens as Heavy Favorite Over Lesnar

    via MMAmania.com