By MATT BOONE
MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer
UFC 113 Overview
UFC 113 “Machida vs. Shogun 2” is live on pay-per view this weekend from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec Canada. The card features a little something for everyone, topped off by what originally was considered to be one of the most eagerly anticipated rematches in recent UFC history – Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Why “was” it one of the most anticipated rematches but not anymore? Overkill. With the UFC alone having three upcoming main events on consecutive pay-per view events that trumps this one (Quinton Jackson vs. Rashad Evans, Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin and Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin) Machida-Shogun II all of a sudden doesn't feel as “must-see” as it appeared to be on October 25th of last year – one day after their initial clash inside the world famous octagon. One thing UFC 113 has going for it that the aforementioned fights don't – a more complete card from top-to-bottom. Obviously that is up for debate, however it's pretty apparent that UFC stacked this show up more than most, as it's a rare event that will feature three main events in a single evening. And it'll need just that to maintain a high level of interest as the previously mentioned three main events aren't just bigger by comparison, but more rare as each of the three features a major UFC star returning after lengthy absences and scares. Quinton Jackson retired following last season's Ultimate Fighter, Brock Lesnar almost died from very rare medical complications and Chuck Liddell is coming out of a forced retirement by UFC promoter Dana White in April of 2009 after dropping four of his previous five fights – three by way of knockout.
In the following space we'll take a closer look at four of the more interesting bouts scheduled for the PPV portion of Saturday's UFC 113 event, going over each match with a fine toothed comb, all the while trying to determine who has the best shot of getting their hand raised in victory that night. We'll get things started off with what is scheduled to be the opening bout on the pay-per view card: Alan Belcher vs. Patrick Cote.
Alan Belcher vs. Patrick Cote
This match will feature the return of Patrick “The Predator” Cote, who was last seen in the octagon back in October of 2008 when he dropped a competitive fight to pound-for-pound great and UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva after suffering a freak leg injury during the bout. Cote will be welcomed back into the cage by Alan “The Talent” Belcher, a durable Middleweight who has had momentary glimpses of real promise, only to be forgotten each time by dropping hard-fought battles in between impressive victories. With the style of each combatant this match has all the proper ingredients to be a textbook hot UFC PPV opener. Each guy seemingly prefers to stand and trade, which could result in an exciting slugfest to start out the televised portion of the evening this Saturday. One thing is for certain – an impressive victory here by Cote should move him right back in line to get a second crack at Anderson Silva's title, with the hope that this time the conclusion of their fight would be a clean finish as opposed to a freak accident. And that's exactly what I expect to happen. Cote beats Belcher this weekend and moves onward and upward, securing his former spot near the top of the pack at 185 pounds.
Prediction: Patrick Cote defeats Alan Belcher
Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione
This fight is in many ways the most interesting on the show, more so for business reasons than the expectations of an entertaining mixed-martial arts contest. Kimbo Slice will make his official MMA pay-per view debut in his second professionally recorded UFC contest (fights on The Ultimate Fighter reality show do not go down in the books as professional MMA bouts). What's interesting there is the answer to the question: how will Kimbo draw on PPV? Kimbo-Mitrione is third from the top in terms of promotion leading into the show, so it's literally the gravy on top of an already hearty meal. Basically, Kimbo is not responsible for selling the show but his mere presence could, depending on how he draws as a PPV product, result in a healthy increase in PPV buys. If television ratings are any indication, Kimbo is a legitimate draw in every sense of the word. It could be argued that Slice single handedly kept EliteXC alive during financial peril. He topped that feat when he entered the big leagues, drawing UFC their highest television ratings in history for episode one of The Ultimate Fighter season ten, and ultimately making the TUF 10 season average rating leaps and bounds above any of the previous nine seasons. With all of that business background behind us, Kimbo's impact on the UFC 113 PPV is still a question mark. Whether or not his star power translates from insane free TV numbers to costly MMA PPVs in a period where big televised MMA events are anything but scarce remains to be seen. Oh yeah, in addition to all of that, let us not forget that this is actually a pretty intriguing little contest. As far as interesting characters, “Meathead” Mitrione is about as colorful as one can be on the negative end of the spectrum, as TUF 10 proved last year. And it goes without saying that Kimbo is about as big a character on the UFC roster right now. How about the actual fight? Any promise? Absolutely. Despite all of his complaining and downright “boo-boo” facing, Mitrione did not fail in impressing the record setting audience who followed TUF on Spike TV in the latter half of 2009. He looked extremely impressive in knocking out “Big Baby” Marcus Jones at the TUF 10 live finale back in December, backing up the reputation he earned for having dynamite in his punches during the popular UFC reality show. Anyone who has seen Kimbo fight in the UFC and the defunct EliteXC, or even stumbled onto a little internet webpage known as YouTube can attest to Kimbo's powerful punches as well. Picking a winner in this one is not the easiest task in the world, as you can mark this reporter under the lengthy list of those who feel Kimbo is overrated as a pro MMA fighter. It's about as delicate a softball UFC could toss his way short of grabbing the fattest guy on the nearest bar stool, as Mitrione only has one professional MMA fight on record, making it a rare occasion where Kimbo will be the more experienced pro MMA veteran in the cage on fight night. Ultimately, it's a coin toss fight. Going with the theory that the glass is always half empty, it would make sense for Mitrione to come out on top, damaging the marketability of Kimbo going forward. With that being said, I've got “Meathead” coming out on top in this one.
Prediction: Matt Mitrione defeats Kimbo Slice
Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley
Up next we have a fight that fellow MMANews.com keyboard solider Matt Molgaard considers to have the potential to steal the show at UFC 113 as we have top Welterweight contenders Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley battling in what will likely be a title eliminator en route to a shot at division kingpin Georges St-Pierre's crown. Daley has been on a tear since joining the UFC ranks, scoring two impressive knockout victories over highly regarded opponents such as Dustin Hazelett and Martin Kampmann. Daley's strength coming into this fight is clearly his stand up game, where he has the power in either hand to end a man's night with one swing of his mighty fist. Josh Koscheck on the other hand is recognized for his almost unrivaled wrestling skills. Putting together one of the best UFC records in history (statistically speaking), Koscheck has a tendancy to leave his wrestling comfort zone and continue to utilize his underrated striking skills to chalk up recent W's. Koscheck vows to continue that pattern at UFC 113 as the war of wards between he and Daley motivated the TUF 1 veteran to declare Saturday's battle a stand-up contest. Hopefully Koscheck is bluffing, as it would clearly increase the odds in Daley's favor to battle it out in the one specific area of the game where Daley has the best shot of winning. It's a tough one to call, but in addition to being the more well-rounded and complete fighter, Koscheck seems to be the more tried and true warrior in this pair as well. For those reasons I'll have to go with the American Kickboxing Academy standout to leave Montreal a winner on Saturday night.
Prediction: Josh Koscheck defeats Paul Daley
Lyoto Machida (c) vs. Mauricio Rua (UFC Light Heavyweight Title)
And then there was one. It's the highly anticipated rematch of a controversial initial meeting back in October of 2009 where the two finest Brazilian mixed-martial artists at Light Heavyweight met for the most coveted prize in the sport – the UFC World Championship. Anyone with a functional memory can recall the controversy of the judges decision in their first meeting, a bout that saw three men at cage-side score the contest in Lyoto's favor despite most of the MMA world being of the opinion that Shogun got the job done after 25 hard-fought minutes in the octagon. Dana White himself wasted no time telling Shogun in the cage after the decision was revealed that he felt he won the fight. It's easy to say “don't leave it in the hands of the judges,” hell, it's even easy to plaster that above a locker room on a reality TV show. One thing that isn't always easy, is to make that happen. Clearly Shogun didn't go into the fight thinking in the back of his mind, “I hope I can dance around and score light points for 25 minutes and convince three men in suits to tell everyone I won!” A fight is a fight, and anyone at the top of their craft like Lyoto and Shogun do not go into a fight hoping to win a decision. With all that said the last fight did go the distance, three men in suits did announce a winner, just not the right one. So what happens this time? Clearly Shogun has the tools to beat Lyoto, which is a rare talent as prior to their first meeting many were wondering how you win even one round against the champion. Some questioned how you can even land a shot on Lyoto. Shogun figured it out. There are two questions that need to be asked: will that same game plan work this time against Lyoto, and if it doesn't, can Shogun come up with a different way to beat him? Answer number one – maybe. Answer number two – maybe, but it's going to be real tough. The real shame is that Shogun found a way to beat the unbeatable force and was robbed. Now he's got to make it happen again and the difficulty there is finding the way to do it. The first fight saw Shogun catch Lyoto off guard with a lot of kicks. This time, Lyoto won't be caught off guard, he'll be expecting them and he'll be prepared for them. Whether or not that means he can avoid them and implement his game remains to be seen. Unfortunately for Shogun, I just can't see it happening. I feel the brilliance of his first performance was the fact that he found a weak spot in Lyoto's game and caught him by surprise with his tactics in the fight. With Lyoto being aware of that opening in his game, you can better believe he's been working on defense and counters to kicks. So unless Shogun can find a second hole in Lyoto's game I just don't see a way he can. I have to put my money with the champion in this one, which again is a damn shame. There is no rubber match if Shogun loses because on paper it will be two loses to Lyoto, which doesn't really warrant a third bout. Shogun has to beat Lyoto twice to earn the right to call himself the champion. Best of luck to him, it's not going to be an easy task.
Prediction: Lyoto Machida defeats Mauricio Rua
UFC 113 Wrap-Up
Rounding out the rest of the card on Saturday night will be a main PPV card attraction featuring Lightweight talents Jeremy Stephens and Sam Stout. Both guys usually have exciting fights, especially “Hands Of Stone” Stout. Let's hope for another one this weekend in Montreal.
The preliminary card is a Canadian-dominated line up, with several top athletes from MMA's Canadian contingent including Joe Doerksen, Jonathan Goulet and Jason MacDonald. Also on the prelim card is the always exciting “Irish Hand Grenade” Marcus Davis.
So to wrap things up, UFC 113 is a solid line-up that features something for everyone. What grabs your interest about MMA? Is it high caliber championship fights? We've got a great grudge rematch with a title on the line in Lyoto-Shogun II. Is it interesting style match ups? We've got the most accomplished amateur wrestler at 170 pounds matched up against arguably the best striker at 170 with Koscheck-Daley. Is it great brawls? We've got maybe the most famous brawler in the world against a guy who could probably knock out an elephant in Kimbo-Mitrione.
A little something for everyone this Saturday is available to you for just under $50. If you can't fork out the dough, remember you can always settle in here at MMANews.com during the event for the absolute best live coverage anywhere on the web. I'll be here Saturday with my trusty keyboard and I'll bring you the fastest and most detailed round-by-round coverage of the show from top-to-bottom, starting with the preliminary card. Until then, feel free to check out what other MMANews.com writers feel about UFC 113 with John Specht's UFC 113 preview and Matt Molgaard's UFC 113 preview. You can also write your own UFC 113 preview by heading over to the MMANews.com Blog section or debate things out in the popular MMANews.com Forums. See everyone this Saturday!