Luis Cruz Previews UFC 66 “Liddell vs. Ortiz 2” In-Depth

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The following is a detailed preview of the upcoming UFC 66 “Liddell vs. Ortiz 2” show written by MMANews.com's own Luis Cruz, host of the weekly CFZ Radio show.

UFC 66 Thoughts and Predictions

Anthony Perosh vs. Christian Wellisch

Two UFC Heavyweights looking to redeem themselves after coming away with a loss in their UFC debuts. This match will more likely than not end up on the ground quickly. Wellisch will look to use his wrestling to set up some ground and pound while Perosh will most likely be looking to end this by submission. The winner takes a step closer to making a name while the other one may find himself in trouble of losing a big opportunity on the big stage.

Winner: Christian Wellisch via Unanimous Decision

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Carmelo Marrero

In another submission vs. wrestler Heavyweight battle, Gonzaga will test his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu against a great wrestler in Marrero. Both men are coming off good wins in their last UFC showings. Gonzaga was able to stop Scherner while Marrero pulled off what many considered a huge upset when he toppled former undefeated prospect Cheick Kongo by split decision. Marrero showed great wrestling and control in that fight and I believe he could be a serious contender in the future as long as he develops his stand up and submission game ala Randy Couture.

Winner: Carmelo Marrero via Unanimous Decision

Thiago Alves vs. Tony DeSouza

Alves has been on a bit of a roller coaster since debuting in the UFC a little over a year ago. He was talked about as another great prospect for the already stacked Welterweight division. That was put on hold after he was submitted by the formidable Spencer Fisher. Alves went on to secure back-to-back wins and start the stirring again. Then he ran into another wall by the name of Jon Fitch who impressively handled the Pitbull to a stoppage. Alves once again has rebounded and took a decision over up and comer John Alessio in his last outing. DeSouza will surely look to take this fight down and end it with his vast submission skills. I think after a couple close calls and submission escapes, Alves will continue his rebound but DeSouza will not lose any credibility in this close fight.

Winner: Thiago Alves via Split Decision

Yushin Okami vs. Rory Singer

Singer will attempt to take this fight down where he will no doubt feel more comfortable. He will not succeed and realize that he is in with a much more experienced and seasoned fighter. Okami will overwhelm Singer to a second round stoppage and notch back to back wins over two 'Ultimate Fighter 3' alumnus.

Winner: Okami via TKO round 2

Michael Bisping vs. Eric Schafer

The hype train is in full stride as TUF 3 Light heavyweight winner Michael Bisping takes the stage. His opponent, Eric Schafer, is just another track to keep it going. Bisping is without a doubt the all around better fighter in this one and it will show immediately. Schafer will want this fight to go to the ground where he can avoid the lopsided stand up which is sure to ensue if it stays on the feet. After brushing away a couple of takedown attempts, Bisping will land some brutal strikes standing and close the show before the opening round ends with possibly seeing red from his own blood. Next stop for Bisping, a step up in competition.

Winner: Michael Bisping via KO round 1

Chris Leben vs. Jason MacDonald

In one of the more anticipating bouts on the card for myself (probably third), 'The Crippler' Chris Leben, takes on a very tough opponent in Jason MacDonald. MacDonald is coming off a very impressive submission over Leben's teammate Ed Herman at UFN 7. Chris is coming off a very tough fight with Jorge Santiago at UFN 6 in which he was able to score the knockout in the second round after a very tough first round in which Santiago was able to land some of his own hard shots. Some people may think that Chris is still struggling with the devastating knockout he endured at the hands of now Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Well this will be his opportunity to pull out of that shadow and show everyone he's ready to make his way back to top contendership.

Winner: Chris Leben via TKO round 3

Forrest Griffin vs. Keith Jardine

In my second most anticipated fight of the night, 'The Dean of Mean' will strive to put himself in line for a title shot with a win over the man who had former Light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz's hands full. Forrest Griffin really staked claim as a threat in the Light heavyweight division after his performance against Tito in MOST people's eyes. I'm not one of them. I'm not saying Forrest is a bad fighter at all, but from what I know, Tito did in fact go in that fight with a legit injury to his knee. I normally wouldn't pay mind to things that surface after a fight but in this case an exception has to be made because one thing Tito does not do is tire. He was completely gassed after one round in which he laid a beating on Forrest, that is not a 100 percent Tito Ortiz. Forrest, to me, still has not elevated his striking game and that is what he depends on most in his fights. His left and right combo that he likes to throw more than I like to see, may work for half of round one but Jardine will figure that out and change up to counter it in which Forrest might not have an answer to if he hasn't taken his striking to that next level. Another problem I see with Forrest is his lack of knockout power in his punches and Jardine has shown he can take some serious punishment and still dish it out. This will be a battle of two fighters with strong wills and great chins and possibly the fight of the year if their styles match up as I expect them to. Jardine should utilize his great leg kicks to keep Forrest off balance and land the cleaner and more effective strikes but I don't see either man being finished. That will only give us three great rounds of action. Can we say the 'real' Griffin vs. Bonnar 2-quality type match?

Winner: Keith Jardine via Unanimous Decision

Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcio 'Pe De Pano' Cruz

After back-to-back losses to current UFC Heavyweight champion, Tim Sylvia, Arlovski would seem to be a long way from a title shot right? Wrong. If you look at the current depth of the UFC's Heavyweight division there aren't too many fighters who are ready for that step up. One name that's ahead of 'The Pitbull' of course is Brandon Vera. Vera has put on clinics and beatings to everyone he's faced thus far and a title shot, with a contract extension of course, seems inevitable to be Sylvia's next step. But what happens next? If Vera wins, there are tons of fans that would love to see a Vera vs. Arlvoski match. If Sylvia wins? Well unless the UFC signs some established Heavyweights, which they are trying to do now, they aren't going to be left with much of a choice but to give Arlovski another crack at it. Of course the rumors of Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipovic possibly signing with the UFC would change everything unless they were looking to build his name in the U.S. first, which to any MMA fan who knows anything knows that it's not necessary. This match could be a number one contenders match for a near future title shot, possibly mid-2007, depending on how things play out with everything of course. Cruz is coming off a very close decision loss to Monson who just had a title shot himself. Cruz is a very accomplished Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter and can give most people problems if the fight goes to the ground. His stand up isn't anything to be admired and that could be the difference in this fight as Arlvoski is very well rounded with his only known weakness being his 'suspect' chin.

Winner: Andrei Arlvoski via TKO round 2

Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz (Light heavyweight Championship)

The main event that could possibly break PPV buy and attendance gate records. It's the rematch of two fighters on hot streaks.

Tito Ortiz, since his loss to Chuck, has been on a five fight win streak. The question is, has it really been impressive? Let's take a look. First, he went to a decision with TUF 4 finals fighter Patrick Cote. Tito was actually caught in that fight and almost put out but Cote wasn't able to capitalize on it. Tito then took the fight down and controlled it the rest of the way to a decision win. Then he goes on to face Vitor Belfort who had been up and down in his career. It was a very close fight and a fight in which I had Belfort pulling out a very close decision, but an argument could be made either way, it was that close. A draw probably would've been best and then had a rematch. Tito then goes on to face TUF 1 winner and Light heavyweight contender Forrest Griffin. Tito completely dismantled Forrest in that first round but then was fatigued. As talked about earlier, it was noted that he came into the fight with a knee injury and didn't have proper training, Tito never gasses. But just to keep on subject, Forrest was able to connect with many shots in round two because Tito offered little movement to dodge the shots or return fire. While some people have argued that Forrest won the third round as did I when I initially seen the fight, after re watching it really wasn't debatable Tito won. He landed the cleaner shots while Forrest didn't do much at all to convince a judge to give him the round. But again outside of round one not a great performance by Tito injury or not. Tito then faces off against a man everyone knows is well past his prime and is clearly outclassed by his much younger and stronger rival. The outcomes for those two fights were as predictable as you can get in this sport. So has Tito evolved at all to be able to face a man who we are going to look at now that is probably in his prime right now?

Chuck Liddell, since his loss to Rampage has been nothing but impressive. He has knocked out all six of his opponents he's faced since then. His resume is a very good one also, Tito Ortiz, Vernon White, Randy Couture (twice), Jeremy Horn, and Babalu (who I was convinced might actually take Chuck). I can't see this fight going any other way than the first time around except Tito may try to take the fight to the ground a lot earlier. He will try and even if successful, I don't see Tito being able to keep Chuck down long enough to do any real damage. With Rampage being rumored to face Sam Hoger on the UFC 67 card, one can only speculate that Chuck's only loss he hasn't redeemed will take place in the later part of 2007 – if Rampage is successful in his one or two fights prior to that, and if Chuck is successful with defending his title this time and possibly one other time before facing Rampage.

Winner: Chuck Liddell via KO round 2

Thoughts

On paper, this is one of the better UFC lineups I've seen in a long time. If these fights deliver as they seem they will on paper, this could be a very entertaining night of fights for MMA fans. This is one I'd reccommend people convince their friends to order if they aren't sure whether they're ready to be full-fledged MMA fans yet. I wish there were bars around my area that aired these ppvs but I'll be at home with friends watching what should be an exciting night of MMA action.

Agree or disagree with Luis Cruz's opinions? Challenge him in the MMANews.com forums.

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