* Ryan Bader over Tito Ortiz, decision
I can't believe I'm still writing about Tito Ortiz fights in the year 2011. This is just Tito's fifth bout in the last five calendar years and he hasn't won any. In fact, his last win over a non-Ken Shamrock opponent (so, not a total joke) was his narrow-ass split decision over Forrest Griffin in spring 2006. THIS IS OVER FIVE YEARS AGO. NO WINS IN FIVE YEARS. Put it this way, if Bader doesn't win this fight, he should retire from the sport himself.
* Chris Leben over Wanderlei Silva, knockout, round 2
To that end, I can't believe I'm still writing about Wanderlei Silva fights in 2011. This is Silva's first match since February 2010, when he beat Michael Bisping (in rather an unimpressive decision) in his middleweight debut. The long layoff has been due to both injuries and Silva's stated desire to wait for either Yoshihiro Akiyama or Leben since Silva figured both would be crowd-pleasing opponents. You'd think a guy who theoretically wants one more title shot before retirement would look for someone higher up the middleweight food chain but hey, this is Wanderlei, he does what he wants. In short, I have no idea what kind of Wanderlei Silva we'll see on Saturday but sadly, it'll probably be the same guy whose legendary jaw has been cracked by years of knockouts. Even at a lower weight class it's probably too easy for a strong striker like Leben to land one that puts Silva out. Now, Leben himself has taken more than a few knockouts himself, but when in doubt, go with the guy who isn't coming off the 17-month layoff.
* Dennis Siver over Matt Wiman, decision
Hell, let's continue the trend --- I can't believe I'm writing about Dennis Siver/Matt Wiman as a match with legitimate title implications. The winner will have four straight wins and will probably earn themselves a bout with the Guillard/Roller winner on the undercard, with the winner of THAT...well, not getting a title shot, but probably earning themselves at least a #1 contender's bout. Ah, the ladder of contention. This one could easily go either way and I'm picking Siver because his last win (over George Sotiropoulos) was a more impressive scalp than anyone "Handsome Matt" has ever beaten. Also, I may be biased against ever picking a fighter with such a dumbass nickname as 'Handsome.'
* Dong Hyun Kim over Carlos Condit, decision
Speaking of unlikely title eliminators, here you go. The Dong is unbeaten in his career, though this has the twin asterisks of a 2007 draw while fighting in Japan and his no contest with Karo Parisyan from 2009 (Karo won the fight but then failed a drug test afterwards). While Kim's unbeaten, Condit would certainly be the biggest name on his resume and an impressive finish might be enough to net Kim a title fight (or at least a #1 contender's match). What I'm guessing happens, however, is a rather uninteresting decision since that's Kim's style. Condit has never struck me as a top-tier kind of fighter. If you can only fight the likes of Martin Kampmann or Jake Ellenberger to virtual draws, you're not going to cut it against the top welterweights, and while I have my reservations that Kim is one such welter, I'm still not sure Condit has enough to take him.
* Urijah Faber over Dominick Cruz, submission, round four
Faber as bantamweight champ gives the UFC another marketable face for American fans, and Cruz as bantamweight champ gives the UFC another marketable face for Hispanic fans. So it's a no-lose situation from a marketing perspective and obviously it's a no-lose situation as well for those of us fans who don't give a crap about where a guy is from and just want to see good fights. Cruz is 17-1 in his career and the one loss.....was to Faber, a first-round tapout in 2007. Since then, Cruz has been largely decisioning everything in sight and he became the WEC bantamweight champ before the belt was absorbed into the UFC. Now, Faber has dropped down in search of another title. This is another fight that could easily go either way and perhaps I'm naive in thinking that Faber has the magic ticket for beating Cruz just because he knocked him off over four years ago. Cruz is a better fighter now and 135 is his natural weight class, so Faber is on Cruz's turf, not vice versa. Maybe I'm still on a sugar high from years of drinking the WEC's "Faber is the man" Kool-aid, but I think Faber gets the win. Either way, it should be a terrific main event and one that hopefully isn't canceled on Saturday due to one of the fighters not being cleared due to testosterone replacement. coughcoughMarquardtcough
* Jeff Hougland over Donny Walker, decision
* Anthony Njokuani over Andre Winner, KO, R1
* Brad Tavares over Aaron Simpson, decision
* George Sotiropoulos over Rafael dos Anjos, decision
* Melvin Guillard over Shane Roller, KO, R2
* Brian Bowles over Takeya Mizugaki, KO, R3
THE ATOMIC BLONDE -- My review
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