This Saturday live from Las Vegas, Zuffa brings its' next installment in the Ultimate Fighting Championship to the MGM Grand Garden Casino & Hotel. In the main event of the evening, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell looks to avenge a previous loss against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Other bouts on the card include Karo Parisyan going up against Josh Burkman in a Welterweight clash that definitely could have an affect on the Welterweight picture. Ivan Salaverry makes a return to the Octagon, Chris Leben takes on Kalib Starnes in Middleweight action, and Keith Jardine makes his first appearance in the the cage since his shocking victory over Forrest Griffin back at UFC 66 in December.
The whole card for the show is as follows:
Chuck Liddell VS Quinton Jackson (LHW Title)
Josh Burkman VS Karo Parisyan
Ivan Salaverry VS Terry Martin
Keith Jardine VS Houston Alexander
Chris Leben VS Kalib Starnes
Thiago Silva VS James Irvin
Sean Salmon VS Alan Belcher
Jeremy Stephens VS Din Thomas
Carmelo Marrero VS Wilson Gouveia
Here at MMANews.com we've decided to take an in-depth look at the main card for the Pay-Per-View. Myself along with Justin Bullock (Bullock[TTR] on the forums) and Thomas Caldwell (The Sundance Kid on the forums) give insight into what we think will happen this Saturday evening. ONWARD!
UFC 71 Thoughts and Predictions
Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell (c) VS Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Chris Howie – This fight has been in the making ever since the first fight happened. Chuck goes on to win the UFC LHW title and picks off the people he's lost to in the past and now it's time for him to get a chance to take back that last defeat. It has story written all over it. This fight is in my eyes going to be one of the best fights of the year. Chuck is out for revenge and Rampage is out for the belt. Rampage pounded on the champ back in 2003 in their first meeting and I expect more of the same to happen this time around. I think Rampage is going to get inside of Chuck and slam him down (similar to how he did last time) and pound him out. That's not to say Chuck doesn't have a chance in this fight. It's MMA and anything can happen. Chuck is the champ for a reason.
Prediction: PAIN. Quinton Jackson VIA Rd. 2 TKO
Justin Bullock – This is a tough fight to call. Months ago I would have said that Chuck is a sure-thing, but that was before the recent string of upsets that have been plaguing UFC main events since Couture dethroned Big Timmy. Obviously many hardcore fans won't call it an upset if Jackson wins considering he put a beating on “The Iceman” the last time they met, but most casual fans have only seen Quinton's fight against Eastman, if any. But regardless of who is considered the underdog I see Chuck walking away with the belt once again. Sure he was thuroughly trounced by Jackson in their first fight, but that was almost four years ago and neither fighter is the same fighter that stepped into the ring at Final Conflict 2003. To put it simply, Chuck has gone on to do bigger and better things while Rampage hasn't been the same after his brutal losses to Wanderlei Silva and Shogun Rua. One could argue that Chuck had easy competition in the UFC compared to Rampage's competition in Pride, but that is just speculation. The fact is Chuck has been demolishing every top light-heavy he faces while Rampage has been looking so-so. Anything can happen in MMA and I wouldn't really consider it an upset if Rampage pulled of the win but I just don't see it happening this time around.
Prediction: Chuck Liddell VIA Rd. 2 KO
Thomas Caldwell – This is the last fight on Chuck’s road to redemption. He has avenged two of his three loses and this is the last piece of the puzzle. Chuck has been on a roll ever since he and Rampage stepped into the ring the first time in 2003. Rampage has had a little more rocky of a road with loses to Wanderlei Silva twice and Shogun, but if Chuck would have fought the same guys he may of very well had the same fate. I think that both fighters have improved since there first fight, but both are basically the same fighters. Chuck is going to try to stand with Rampage the entire 25 minutes and Rampage will probably be fine with that. I don’t think that Rampage will be able to take Chuck down in the first round, but I do think that Rampage will be able to pressure Chuck standing up, which is an area where many fighters have had problems. We haven’t seen Chuck winded in a really long time and I think that if Rampage can get Chuck tired or hurt him on his feet he will be able to take him down, and from there Rampage will be able to use his self-invented “Whoop-Dat-Ass” style of fighting and throw the Iceman in the fire. Either way look for these two to fight again before it is all said and done.
Prediction: Quinton Jackson VIA Rd. 3 TKO
Josh “The Peoples Warrior” Burkman VS Karo “The Heat” Parisyan
Chris Howie – It's hard to find a a Karo Parisyan fight that's boring. I can't think of any. This should be an interesting fight in terms of the Welterweight division as Karo is always in the hunt and a win over Burkman puts him right back in the title picture. He brings strong judo skills to the table that can give any fighter fits and Burkman brings a decent wrestling game with him and is a well rounded fighter. In Burkman we have a fighter that is looking to establish himself in the Welterweight division and what better way to do it than with a win over one of the best. I see this fight going the distance to a third round decision with back and forth action throughout. Burkman should definitely impress in this fight and continue to make a name for himself, but I think Karo will be a little too much for him.
Prediction: The Heat VIA Split Decision
Justin Bullock – This fight has all the makings of fight of the night. Both fighters have been looking good in their past fights in the UFC and a win for either of them is sure to help solidify their place near the top of the WW division. Burkman is a tough guy and he is hard to finish, but I think that “The Heat” will be too much for him. Karo has already said that he is pissed about the UFC not giving him another shot at the title since an injury withdrew him from his fight against former champ Matt Hughes, so I expect him to come out with a vengeance. Hopefully we will get to see some of his slick judo throws in this fight.
Prediction: Karo Parisyan VIA Unanimous Decision
Thomas Caldwell – This is another fight that has the potential to steal the show. I have never seen Karo in a fight that you weren’t on the edge of your seat the entire time and Josh is a fighter that goes all out also. Burkman is a good wrestler but I think Karo’s unrivaled judo skills will be able to nullify that pretty well. Most people will underestimate Karo’s stand up but working with Randy Couture has really helped him. I think that Karo is just the better fighter and has all the tools to put Burkman away. Also Karo has expressed his displeasure about how his title shot was taken away from him like someone stealing candy from a baby. I look for Karo to come out with one thing in mind, and that is that Burkman is in the way of his title shot. Karo predicts that he will win in a very “fancy” way, I tend to agree with him on this one.
Prediction: Karo Parisyan VIA 3rd Rd. TKO
Terry Martin VS Ivan Salaverry
Chris Howie – Salaverry makes his long awaited return (by some anyway*cough* Sundance *cough*) to the UFC after his very close decision loss to Nate Marquardt. The fight could have went either way in some peoples eyes. Salaverry is a well rounded fighter with good stand up and great submissions. Martin looked extremely impressive in his last fight with Rivera at UFC 67 knocking him out rather quickly in 15 seconds. If that Martin comes in against Ivan it could give him trouble and if he catches him it could be lights out. If this fight hits the mat it will only be a matter of time before Salaverry locks in a submission and ends this fight.
Prediction: Ivan Salaverry VIA Rd. 2 Submission
Justin Bullock – Terry looked like a monster when he broke Jorge Rivera's face (literally) in less that a minute at UFC 67. Unfortunately for him I don't think he will be so lucky against Ivan Salaverry. Many UFC fans including myself were very perturbed to find out that Salaverry had been dropped by the UFC last year after a lackluster fight with Nate Marquardt. Ivan moved to the WFA where he fought only once before the organization went belly up and was bought by Zuffa. So now through the wonders of corporate buyouts, Ivan is back in the UFC and ready to add some much needed depth to the Middleweight division. Salaverry is the definition of a mixed-martial artist; he has great stand-up and an excellent ground game that make him a very formidable opponent. Martin is no slouch, but I don't think he is in Salaverry's league.
Prediction: Ivan Salaverry VIA Rd. 2 Submission
Thomas Caldwell – This is the fight that I’m most looking forward on this card – the return of Ivan Salaverry. Salaverry got the shaft from the UFC after a lackluster performance against Nate Marquardt at the first ever UFC Ultimate Fight Night, of which Nate was just as inactive as Ivan. Terry Martin is coming off of a very impressive win over Jorge Rivera, knocking him out in less than 15 seconds. Ivan has been pretty inactive as of late only fighting once since his fight with Nate, but in that one outing he looked impressive. I think that if they would have kept Ivan around he would be in the same position that Nate is in right now. I feel that Ivan is better than Terry Martin in every aspect of the game and will be in total control of the fight from the opening bell until the referee stops it, whereever it goes.
Prediction: Ivan Salaverry VIA Rd. 1 Submission
Houston Alexander VS “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine
Chris Howie – I can't say I know a whole lot about Alexander. He lost his first fight but went on to win his next six and after having a look at his stats his last fight was a no contest in the second of two fights in the same night. He won the first. Jardine is coming off the biggest win of his career to date after knocking out Forrest Griffin at UFC 66. Jardine is looking to move on to bigger and better things with a win here and let people know hes climbing the ranks in the LHW division. He has good stand and a solid ground game. Alexander is the obvious underdog since no one has really heard of him and with little to base my opinion on, I'm going with…
Prediction: Keith Jardine VIA Rd. 1 KO
Justin Bullock – I don't know too much about Alexander besides the fact that he has a good record which generally doesn't tell you squat about how good a fighter is. The only reason I am interested in seeing this fight is to see how Jardine performs coming off the biggest win of his career against Griffin at UFC 66.
Prediction: Keith Jardine VIA Unanimous Decision
Thomas Caldwell – I’ve never seen Houston Alexander fight so I don’t know a whole lot about him. What I do know is that he has never let a fight go to the judges and you have to respect that. Coming in with a record of 6-1 with a six-fight winning streak, this guy looks impressive. Jardine has looked very good as of late with his KO of Forrest and in my opinion he did enough to take the win against Bonnar and should be undefeated in the UFC, but the judges didn’t see it that way so what are you going to do? I think this is one of the fights that come down to experience. I think if Houston can get over the “UFC Jitters” he will have a shot, but I don’t think that he will.
Prediction: Jardine VIA Rd. 1 KO
Kalib Starnes VS Chris “The Crippler” Leben
Chris Howie – Aww now this is a fight I'm looking forward to. Leben's fights always tend to be entertaining and exciting to say the least. His last fight was against Jason MacDonald and he was dismatched rather easily with a modified guillotine choke. Starnes is coming off a loss as well, his coming at the hands of Yushin Okami. Starnes is looking to elevate himself in the MW division and with a win over Starnes this could help his case. Leben has stated he is looking forward to his UFC contract being up and by the sounds of things will be heading to ICON in Hawaii. I'm going to go with the underdog here and pick Starnes.
Prediction: Kalib Starnes VIA Rd. 2 Submission
Justick Bullock – Though this fight will have little effect on the MW division as a whole, it could still be a good fight. Both fighters need a win to keep them from slipping off the radar. Unfortunately for Kalib, I don't think he has the tools to beat Leben. I see Leben getting another highlight reel KO.
Prediction: Chris Leben VIA KO
Thomas Caldwell – This should be a good one. Both of these fighters are coming off of loses and this may be do-or-die for both of these guys. I think both fighters will come out with something to prove and this could turn into a war. If it does, I give Leben the advantage not because he is a better fighter than Starnes but because he is tougher and is more of a brawler than Starnes. I see this fight ending by KO one way or another.
Prediction: Chris Leben VIA Rd. 2 KO
At the end of the night this card should go down as a good one. The fights on the card have alot of potential to make for a really good show. The main event of the evening will most definitely provide alot of excitement as both fighters like to bang. The rest of the fights all have strings somewhat attached as the winners will be moving up the ladders of their respective divisions. It would be hard for this card to be as shitty as the last, as the majority of UFC 70 was boring and drawn out. It will be nice to have the UFC back on PPV (don't get me wrong, free UFC on Spike is good but the commercials kill me personally and I'd rather watch on PPV to keep the flow going) this Saturday night.
Word around the campfire is that there is going to be an announcement that could possibly be that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is coming to fight in the UFC and will challenge the winner of the Chuck VS Rampage fight. If this were to happen it will definitely make the show that much more interesting. Chuck was thinking about moving up in weight if he were to beat Rampage because there wasn't much left for him to do in the LHW picture. With the addition of Shogun it really adds a lot to the division and could make for some very interesting fights.
Make sure to catch UFC 71 this Saturday live on PPV at 10:00PM EST and check out MMANews.com the night of the show for the best up-to-the-minute coverage of all the fights live as they happen – including the prelims before the PPV begins!
If you would like to discuss our opinions check us out on the forums at forums.mmanews.com.