Friday, February 25, 2011

UFC 127: Penn/Fitch

Tomorrow, I miss the first UFC PPV since January '08 but hopefully Mike Chupa makes quick work of 'Ox' Wheeler so I have time to catch tomorrow night's Main Event. With Condit out and Lytle fighting a no name instead, Siver over matched against Sotiropoulus, and a typical Bisping decision win almost guaranteed, it's really only the Main Event that is crazy intriguing, with question marks all over it.

For the Main Event, it's 'the Prodigy' BJ Penn taking on unstoppable Jon Fitch. Jon Fitch is 13-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to pound for pound great, Georges St. Pierre. Penn lost two title fights back to back at Lightweight before moving up to Welterweight and showing he can still beat anybody on any given night by knocking out Matt Hughes within seconds. Every one of Fitch's opponents has known what he's going to do, close the distance, press them up against the fence, take them down, smother them for 15 minutes, and grind out a decisive decision, and aside from GSP, still no one is able to stop him. Penn is every wrestlers worst nightmare. He's hard to take down, has insane Jiu Jitsu, is heavy handed, and great at capitalizing on mistakes. If they were the same size, odds are Penn would just shake off the takedowns and land countless bombs until someone, his opponent, the ref, or the doctor, had seen enough. There lies the intrigue of the match up. Where Penn comes in under 170 pounds as a Welterweight, Fitch comes in at 190+ on fight night and uses that size to enforce his style but aside from GSP, he's never faced anyone of Penn's stature, and calling what GSP did to Fitch a mauling is a huge understatement. Everything points to Fitch grinding out another decision but inside Penn still lies that destroyer that stopped the unstoppable Hughes, annihilated all but one challenger to his 155 belt, and put fear in the heart of GSP, and that Penn is going to go in there and show the difference between a great fighter and a legend and doing what needs to be done to walk away the winner.

For the Co-Main Event, it's crisp kickboxer Michael Bisping taking on yet anthother slugger in Jorge Rivera. Rivera has power and with that comes a puncher's chance, but Bisping is good at shutting down that chance by keeping his distance, avoiding the takedown, and peppering his opponent with weak but effective shots. Henderson and Wandy showed that style has nothing on good ol' fashioned, well placed power but Rivera doesn't have that kind of skill and this is more than probably going to end up a decision in Bisping's favor.

Also on the card, it's George Sotiropolous vs Denis Siver in a bout that could put either fighter one fight away from a title shot. Siver is a quick, powerful striker but doesn't belong at the top of the division. Sotiropolous has good, effective striking and a sick ground game and I say he takes it by quick submission and continues on his journey to a Lightweight Championship match. Lytle fights a sub par opponent instead of Condit and though fan-friendly style always puts him at risk of a loss, I say he, too, takes it by quick submission and continues his own journey for a title shot at 170.

The card weakened without Condit in it but the Main Event is classic UFC awesomeness and if you can catch it, do it. It's one of the weaker cards in a while but the UFC makes up for it with a stacked card on Versus this Thursday, so no complaints here.

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