There's a rumour going around that the UFC will be coming to Toronto in early 2010, since there's going to be a changing of the guard on the provincial athletic commission that oversees fighting events. If so, this might be the last UFC event in Montreal for a while, barring a Georges St. Pierre hometown fight. UFC in the Rogers Centre in front of 50,000 people? It's very possible.
Speaking of the UFC and Toronto, who should've been at the Jays game yesterday but Dan Henderson. He was there promoting the UFC's new on-demand channel on Rogers cable, so he threw out the first pitch and....basically everything else during the game. It was pretty funny. They had him in the crowd asking fans trivia questions, in the booth announcing the lineup for a half-inning, and had him sitting down in the TD luxury seats. I half-expected him to join the World's Fastest Grounds Crew or to challenge Ace the mascot to a dance-off between innings.
But enough of this nonsense, let's get to the predictions.
* Chuck Liddell over Shogun Rua, KO, Round Two
Rua is essentially fighting for his UFC career at this point. He lost to Forrest Griffin two years ago after coming from PRIDE with a ton of hype, and then took over a year off due to two major knee surgeries. His return fight was a truly pathetic match against Mark Coleman where both men just about keeled over due to exhaustion by the end of the first round. As for Liddell, there's even been some talk from Dana White that this might be a final reckoning for Chuck. I guess this wouldn't be a surprise given that he's lost three of his last four fights, but still, Chuck has been such a UFC icon that it's weird to think that even White is thinking of putting Liddell out to pasture. My pick is Liddell since, while Liddell did get knocked into next century by Rashad Evans, at least you could say that he just got caught (and he did win that first round). In Rua's case, he hasn't looked good since he's entered the UFC and after all the surgeries and out of PRIDE, I think he's already washed up. Chuck gets the knockout and gets back on track.
* Luiz Cane over Steve Cantwell, KO, Round One
Cantwell is a good fighter, but he's going to be in for an ass-kicking. Cane is one of the real up-and-comers in the LHW division and is a clear step above Cantwell in talent and credentials.
* Krzysztof Soszynski over Brian Stann, decision
I believe that if Sosszynski wins the fight, he gets an extra vowel for his name. Both guys are pretty evenly matched in a bout that wouldn't even come close to a main card if Soszynski wasn't a Canadian, but hell, since he's a Canuck, I'll give him the duke.
* Antoni Hardonk over Cheick Kongo, TKO, Round Two
My upset pick of the night. The UFC would like nothing more than for Kongo to keep winning, since this guy is a promoter's dream --- built like a brick wall, and hits like a brick wall that wears gloves. Though I guess thin gloves wouldn't really make the brick punches any less painful....this sentence makes no sense. Hardonk is cut from the same punching cloth, and in a fight like this it's just a question of who catches who first. What the hell, I needed to pick one upset, so I'll take the Donk.
* Anderson Silva over Thales Leites, KO, Round Two
Silva is coming off a disappointingly strange win over Patrick Cote last fall, and he has stated that he is very eager to get back in the cage and show what he can do. In an unrelated note, Thales Leites' family started an account on Tombstones.com. I don't even know why Leites is getting a title shot, let alone thinking that he has a chance, so I'm predicting another vicious Silva knockout. Apparently the winner (Silva) will be facing Demian "Crazy Submission Guy" Maia in August, which is a much more interesting on the fight. Maia actually has a good chance of finishing Anderson if he can get him down on the ground.
* Jason MacDonald over Nate Quarry, submission, Round Two. The Athlete! Woo!
* David Loiseau over Ed Herman, decision. The Crow! Woo! Or, CAW CAW CAW
* Denis Kang over Xavier Foupa-Pokam, knockout, Round One. Will Kang continue to be the most underachieving guy in MMA and lose to this comically-named Frenchman, or will he finally pull his head out of his ass? I vote for the latter.
* Vinny Magalhaes over Eliot Marshall, submission, Round One
* Ryo Chonan over TJ Grant, decision
* David Bielkheden over Mark Bocek, TKO, round three. I sat next to a guy at Boston Pizza during a UFC event last year who apparently went to school with Bocek and was near tears when he lost to Mac Danzig. The guy was kind of a douche, so unfortunately that's my reasoning for picking against Bocek here. I am fueled by his tears.
* Sam Stout over Matt Wiman, decision. Absolute must-win for the London boy Stout, who's lost his last two fights. I predict that he'll take heart from the Knights' kick-ass win over Windsor last night and give London its second big sports victory in as many nights.