For a sport so brutal and frank it's decided by fistsand elbows and feet and arms and legs, anything to win submission — mixed martial arts fighters have oddly unusual nicknames. With as much blood as pride on the line in any given fight, you'd think fighters would dispense with the monikers.
But it'll be Eliot "The Fire" Marshall going toe to toe with Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko this weekend, along with a "Headhunter," a "Sandman," a "Carpenter" and "The Truth."
Don't let the fun names deceive. Sunday's lengthy UFC card at 1stBank Center in Broomfield, starting at 4 p.m., will feature 11 fights in multiple weight divisions, all vying in the octagon.
Sunday's fights also will air live nationally on Versus. The network signed a multiyear deal in December to air MMA events. It marked the first time UFC was broadcast live on a national cable sports network.
"It's a great crowd no matter where you go. U.S. crowds are U.S. crowds," veteran Denver fighter Duane "Bang" Ludwig said Thursday. "But the crowds have changed. They're smarter. They're not just cheering the knockouts. They cheer the grappling. They understand the positions and holds.
"Fans know what they're looking at."
On Sunday, fans will find a fight card topped by a light heavyweight bout between Brandon Vera (11-4) and 22-year-old Jon Jones (9-1). Vera is coming off a decision loss at UFC 105 to Randy Couture. Jones last made it to the December finals of Spike TV's "Ultimate Fighter" show.
On the undercard, Colorado fighters abound:
• Denver's Ludwig (27-10), a veteran of the MMA game, goes against Darren "The Damage" Elkins (11-1) in a light heavyweight bout.
"He'll come in blazing," Ludwig said of Elkins. "This is his shot at the big time, so we'll see what happens."
• Boulder's Marshall (8-2), a graduate of the University of Colorado, fights Matyushenko (23-4) at light heavyweight.
• And heavyweight Brendan Schaub (5-1), a former football player at CU, fights Chase Gormley (6-1).
"I stopped believing in the hype," Vera said. "I stopped worrying about what people think. I'm going back to just trying to hurt people again, like I used to."
UFC Live in Broomfield
Sunday, 4 p.m., at 1stBank Center
TV: Live on Versus at 7 p.m. Tickets: Tickethorse.com
Main event: Brandon Vera (11-4) vs. Jon Jones (9-1), light heavyweights UFC turns national spotlight on Broomfield