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UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson Preview

UFC 95 will come to us all live from the O2 Arena in London, England on February 21, 2009. The main event will be a match between two former TUF Champions in Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson in the lightweight division. This will be Sanchez's first fight at 155, having thus far participated in the 170 pound division since TUF.

Perhaps just as interesting will be bouts between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ace Demian Maia and wrestling standout Chael Sonnen, and a match up of contending middleweights in Nate Marquardt and Wilson Gouveia.

Get ready, get set, go!

Joe Stevenson (34-9) vs. Diego Sanchez (21-2): Joe Stevenson is a very big and strong lightweight fighter with outstanding jiu jitsu/ submission skills. He possesses solid striking and wrestling (takedowns, takedown defense) as well, and has proven to be a very tough competitor. That said, he's lost two of his last three to BJ Penn and Kenny Florian, both of whom softened him up with blows before taking him out by way of submission.

Diego Sanchez is also going to prove to be a very big and strong lightweight fighter. He also has outstanding jiu jitsu/ submission skills. Add in stellar takedowns, takedown defense, and overall wrestling, along with above average striking that he's been working on for some time now, and you almost have the complete package. Throw in the fact that his cardio is second to none and you realize that Sanchez has the total package.

The only slip could be if he finds it hard to drop to 155 and that effects his performance.

Prediction: Sanchez has the better wrestling in this one, so guess is that the fight will end up where he wants it to. On his feet, he seems to have more skills than his adversary. On the ground, submissions are close but his wrestling and fearsome pace may dictate things.

In the end, Sanchez will probably be too much for Stevenson, as good as he is. Diego Sanchez at lightweight is a scary proposition for would be opponents.

Diego Sanchez by third round TKO (ground and pound).

Demian Maia (9-0) vs. Chael Sonnen (21-9-1): Maia's striking skills are still wholly untested, but that hasn't mattered because he's gotten every fight in the UFC he's been in to the ground. Once there, he's a submission machine that has already taken out the likes of Nate Quarry, Jason MacDonald, and Ed Herman.

Chael Sonnen is a stellar wrestler with outstanding takedowns, takedown defense, and ground control skills. Further, he possesses solid, though unspectacular, striking skills. From a submission perspective, Sonnen has some skills. That said, five of his losses have come by way of submission throughout his career.

Prediction: Sonnen's wrestling will likely allow him to determine where the majority of this fight takes place. He'd probably be best off keeping it standing, as anytime one hits the canvas with Maia they're in mortal danger. But guess is that Maia will get that moment on the ground, even if he pulls guard, before Sonnen can knock him out. This one could go either way and represents one excellent fight that will go a long way toward determining the future of the UFC Middleweight Division.

Demian Maia by second round submission.

Nate Marquardt (27-8-2) vs. Wilson Gouveia (12-5): Marquardt possesses the whole package?he's strong as an ox, possesses above average submission skills, hits like a truck, and has the wrestling to often dictate where fights end up. Perhaps the only thing that he doesn't have, unfortunately for him, is a win over Anderson Silva. But that's not so unusual, is it?

Wilson Gouveia is one of the most underrated fighters in the world today. Along with this, he's above average in every phase of fighting, even if he may not be spectacular in anything. On the rare occasion that he does lose, it tends to be by knockout.

Prediction: After both of these guys last fought, I told myself that I'd go with them in their next fight. Of course, I didn't realize they'd be taking one another on, making this a difficult decision. In the end, though, Marquardt's sheer strength may be the difference in this one.

Nate Marquardt wins by second round TKO.

THE REST OF UFC 95

Josh Koscheck (14-3) vs. Paulo Thiago (10-0): Thiago has been a submission nightmare on smaller venues. But this is the UFC and Josh Koscheck.

Josh Koscheck wins by first round TKO.

Dan Hardy (20-6-1) vs. Rory Markham (16-4): Hardy is tough as nails and can hit. Markham hits like an actual (not hypothetical) truck. But when Markham does lose, it's by (T)KO, and Hardy will have the England crowd on his side.

Dan Hardy wins by way of knockout in round two.

Terry Etim (11-2) vs. Brian Cobb (15-4): Cobb has won his last nine and is a tough submission fighter. Etim is almost impossible to stop and has good submission skills himself.

But Etim has the home crowd in his favor.

Terry Etim wins by way of unanimous decision.

Junior Dos Santos (7-1) vs. Stefan Struve (20-2): Both are good fighters, but it's hard to bet against the guy that just knocked out Fabricio Werdum.

Junior dos Santos wins by way of first round KO.

Mike Ciesnolevicz (17-3-1) vs. Neil Grove (7-1): Grove is a killer on his feet. Mike Ciesnolevicz is a guy with all the skills that has been waiting in the wings for a long time.

Mike C wins by way of second round submission.

Per Eklund (15-3-1) vs. Evan Dunham (7-0): This could turn out to be one heckuva submission match.

Per Eklund wins by way of third round submission.

Paul Kelly (8-1) vs. Troy Mandaloniz (3-1): Both guys can hit and are tough. Guess is that Kelly's strength may play a role in getting this one to the ground and finishing there.

Paul Kelly wins by way of first round submission.

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