On December 27, UFC 92 will air live from coast-to-coast and around the world from Las Vegas, Nevada and the world is in even more anticipation than perhaps the last event that featured Couture vs. Lesnar.
This time though, the hype is surrounding more than one fight. In fact, it surrounds THREE!
In the first fight, it's the third meeting between future MMA Hall of Famers as the former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (28-7) faces Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva (32-8-1-1NC)
The most interesting statistic to this fight is that Silva has not only beaten Rampage in both of their fights, but that Silva has finished him off in both fights (KO due to strikes in round one of the first fight and TKO due to knees in the clinch in round two of the second fight).
Rampage is also looking to get back on a roll after losing his title in his last fight to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86 by decision. Before losing the title though, Rampage was on a winning streak dating back to his days in PRIDE after a round one KO by Mauricio "Shogun" Rua almost four years ago. On that winning streak, he defeated the likes of Hirotaka Yokoi, Matt Lindland, Marvin Eastman and more notably, Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson.
Silva is starting to pick up the pace after a shaky stretch of fights that saw him lose to Mirko "Cro Cop", lose his PRIDE Middleweight title to Dan Henderson and his UFC debut loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 79. Through all this, Silva comes into this fight running on the confidence he picked up after KO'ing Keith Jardine in 36 seconds at UFC 84.
At the weigh ins, these two expressed their obvious dislike for each other. This should make for an interesting evening as in the past, bad blood between fighters really brought up concentration and confidence which led to better fights. We can only wait to see what comes up inside the Octagon.
Also on the card are the coaches of this last season's Ultimate Fighter as the interim Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueria (31-4-1-1NC) defends his crown against former Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir (11-3).
Mir is coming off of his well documented leglock submission victory over future Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 81 and is riding a small winning streak as he defeated Antoni Hardonk before the Lesnar bout and is 3-2 since his motorcycle accident that almost ended his career.
Nogueria is coming off of his title win over Tim Sylvia which also took place at UFC 81. He is a shaky fighter who hardly ever gives up and go the extra rounds and tire out his opponents before striking.
In his last two fights, if you were to judge his first round performances, you would wonder how did he get the title. Truth is, there is more than one round in a fight and Nogueria proved that in his last two fights (see Nogueria vs. Herring [UFC 73] and Nogueria vs. Sylvia [UFC81]).
They are both coming off of another successful TUF season and are looking to close off this chapter with a win. The winner faces Brock Lesnar in early 2009 to determine the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion.
In the main event of the evening, new UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion and TUF 1 winner Forrest Griffin (16-4) defends his title against the undefeated TUF 2 heavyweight winner "Sugar" Rashad Evans (12-0-1).
Griffin is coming off of what people would call an upset victory over "Rampage" to claim the Light-Heavyweight crown and has only lost twice since winning The Ultimate Fighter in that memorable match with Stephan Bonnar. His first loss was to Tito Ortiz at UFC 59 via split decision in a fight that nobody thought Griffin would have a chance. The other loss was to Keith Jardine at UFC 66 which caused Griffin to become emotional.
He has since grown from that incident, taking out Hector Ramirez, choking out Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and of course, the title win against "Rampage".
Evans is coming off of the biggest KO of his life when he knocked out former Light-Heavyweight Champion and future Hall-of-Famer Chuck Liddell in the second round of UFC 88, winning Knockout of the Night honours in the process. Evans is undefeated in MMA, with the only non-victory on record being his draw against Tito Ortiz.
Evans and Griffin have had similar careers in terms of the fighters they have faced and the success both have had since being in the house of TUF and are looking to make a statement with this title fight. Evans has already defeated one TUF winner after his victory over TUF 3 winner Michael Bisping at UFC 77.
The question in this fight is whether or not Rashad will be looking to strike with the champ or go to the ground and utilize his wrestling. One thing is for sure, if it's a striking duel, we could go all night as both fighters have proven that they can take a good punch and come back from it.
Can Silva make it 3-0 over Rampage? Can Nogueria survive the first round against Mir and if so, will Nogueria finish Mir off? Which TUF winner will continue his unbelievable streak going? Can Rashad stay undefeated?
All this, Cheick Kongo and C.B. Dollaway can be seen live on Pay-Per-View or at a licensed public place in your local city LIVE on December 27 at 10:00pm Eastern Standard Time from Las Vegas, Nevada. It's UFC 83, it's THE ULTIMATE 2008.