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UFC 89 'Bisping vs. Leben' Preview

UFC 89: Bisping-Leben will take place on October 18, 2008, from the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. Guess it's not surprising then to find out that "The Count" Michael Bisping will be fighting in the main event on the card. The former TUF winner is a native of England and continues to fight out of the Wolfslair Academy there.

Beyond Bisping, there will be tons of local British talent on the card. Wondering how they're going to do?

Michael Bisping (16-1) vs. Chris Leben (18-4): Michael Bisping has 11 (T)KO's and four submission victories through 17 fights. The reasons are simple. He's technically strong on his feet, has good power for a middleweight fighter, possesses solid wrestling skills, and his submission/ jiu jitsu skills are underrated.

Poll: Who do you think will win? Bisping or Leben?

In other words, Bisping is the real deal despite what some people have to say about him. Beyond the above, he's also a tough guy that comes to fight in shape. What's more, he only recently dropped to the middleweight division; thus, he's pretty big for the weight class.

Chris Leben is a very powerful fighter with a great jaw. Since his TUF 1 days, he's also improved his submission and jiu jitsu skills a lot. Leben's takedown defense and general wrestling skills are solid.

In terms of weaknesses, Leben moves somewhat slowly on his feet, even if the power is clearly there.

Prediction: On their feet, Leben hits harder and has a great jaw, but he'll be the slower fighter. In other words, expect Bisping to beat him to the punch. Still, that's happened to Leben a lot during his career until he connects with that one big punch.

But remember?Bisping has never been knocked out.

If this fight goes to the ground for any length of time, expect Bisping to submit Leben. Can Bisping get "The Crippler" to the ground? Probably. Can he keep him there, though?

Tougher.

Expect Leben to lose this fight on his feet and on the ground for as long as it's there. Still, Leben is a tough out that always has a puncher's chance. But a puncher's chance isn't enough against the hometown favorite.

Michael Bisping wins via unanimous decision.

Keith Jardine (13-4-1) vs. Brandon Vera (9-2): Keith Jardine is a powerful and technically sound striker with good leg kicks. He also has more than solid takedown defense and is adept enough on the ground when fights ends up there.

Poll: Who do you think will win? Vera or Jardine?

Jardine also trains out of an excellent camp in Jackson's Submission Fighting.

The problem, of course, is that in his last fight he was brutally KO'd by Wanderlei Silva, and that's never easy to come back from.

Brandon Vera has good technical striking skills, good power, and some excellent athleticism. Like Jardine, he's also able to do damage to adversaries with his legs. What's more, Vera is a very good jiu jitsu fighter with strong wrestling skills.

One would have thought that when he dropped down to light heavyweight from the heavyweight division in his last fight, the move would've made him look very powerful, as he was fighting heavyweights previous to that.

But that's not what happened. Rather, Vera looked rather unexciting during his victory over Reese Andy. So was that due to a one-time adjustment in weight or bigger problems making 205?

Prediction: The first question?Will the Brandon Vera we saw in the heavyweight division show up at 205 this time? Let's go with a yes on that one, as he wouldn't be the first one to initially have difficulty making a new weight class only to get used to it as time went on.

Vera would seem to be the faster fighter on his feet, which should mean that he'll end up hitting first a lot of the time. Based on a desire to show his last fight was a fluke, coupled with some possible hesitation by Jardine due to what happened to him in the Octagon the last time he was in it, expect Vera to come out strong from the outset. If the fight went to the ground, Vera probably has the better skill set. But don't expect it to. This one should be about who hits first, and Vera is the likely guy to do that, even if counting out a power puncher like Jardine is never smart to do.

Brandon Vera wins via first round TKO.

Luis Cane (8-1) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (5-2): Cane has knocked seven of the eight people he's defeated out. In other words, he has excellent striking skills and a good deal of power to go along with it. On the ground, he's also solid.

But the reality is that he's only fought in two UFC contests and lost one to James Irvin because of disqualification.

Sokoudjou is an athletic marvel. We're talking about size, speed, explosive power. . . Everything. He also has ridiculous judo skills, great power in his hands, and more than solid wrestling.

In terms of striking, he's solid but not as technical as Cane. That said, he hits just as hard if not harder.

Prediction: Against Lyoto Machida two fights ago, Sokoudjou was proven mortal. On the flip side, Cane has never fought anyone as good as Machida, so that's a wash. On their feet, Cane would likely win out here because he's better technically, even if Sokoudjou always has a puncher's chance. But on the ground, Sokoudjou is the better wrestler.

Can Sokoudjou get this one to the canvas? Figure on yes. Can he hurt Cane there?

Another yes.

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou wins via second round TKO (ground and pound).
THE REST OF UFC 89


Paul Taylor (9-3-1) vs. Chris Lytle (35-16-4): Taylor is tough and will have the hometown crowd cheering for him. But Lytle is just a better fighter in all phases of the game.

Chris Lytle wins via second round TKO in a fun fight while it lasts.

Paul Kelly (7-0) vs. Marcus Davis (19-5): Kelly is very well-rounded and tough. His strong takedowns and takedown defense could play in here. But Davis hits like a truck and is better on his feet.

Marcus Davis wins via second round TKO.

Dan Hardy (19-6) vs. Akihiro Gono (28-12-7): Hardy is good, but Gono has fought on these big stages before.

Akihiro Gono wins via second round submission.

Shane Carwin (9-0) vs. Neil Wain (4-0): Carwin is an excellent wrestler that hits like a truck. Wain is good on his feet, but if Carwin plays this right the fight won't take place there.

Carwin wins via TKO (ground and pound) in round two.

Jess Liaudin (12-10) vs. David Bielkheden (12-6): Bielkheden drew a tough first UFC fight against Diego Sanchez. He's pretty good, though.

David Bielkheden wins via unanimous decision.

Sam Stout (14-4-1) vs. Terry Etim (10-2): Etim is really good on the ground and is tough as nails. But in order to win on the ground he has to get the fight there for a significant period of time.

Sam Stout wins via unanimous decision.

David Baron (16-2) vs. Jim Miller (11-1): This one is a submission fighter's dream. I've always been impressed with Jim Miller, though, so. . .

Jim Miller wins via second round submission.

Per Eklund (13-3-1) vs. Samy Schiavo (10-5): Tough call.

Per Eklund wins via unanimous decision.