by Matt Rogers - 08/19/2005
On Saturday the UFC returns to Pay Per View with UFC 54: Boiling Point. The main event pits newly-crowned light-heavyweight champion Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell against veteran MMA competitor Jeremy Horn in a rematch of their 1999 battle that saw Liddell unconscious at the end of the first round. In addition, the man Liddell defeated for the championship, Randy Couture, attempts to work his way back into title contention against Mike Van Arsdale.
Chuck Liddell vs. Jeremy Horn
In the main event, light-heavyweight champion Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell takes on one of the most experienced fighters in MMA, Jeremy Horn. This is Liddell's first title defense since winning the belt by knocking out Randy Couture at UFC 52. The fight is a rematch of the Liddell-Horn UFC 19 bout that occurred way back in 1999. Their first fight ended with Liddell lying unconscious on the mat at the end of the first round, victim to Horn's arm triangle choke. Liddell is reported to have had requested this match-up after winning the light-heavyweight title, so revenge is obviously a big factor in this fight.
However, the result of the first match really has no relevance to the upcoming fight because it occurred so long ago and both fighters have evolved tremendously since then. Horn has racked up the most impressive record, numbers wise, in MMA, with over 100 recorded fights and 86 verified victories. Granted, not all of those fights were against high-level competition, but nonetheless the experience edge goes to Horn in a big way.
Liddell is much more dangerous on the feet than Horn. He possesses extreme knockout power that has allowed him to knock out a who's who list of MMA stars, including Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and Kevin Randleman.
Horn is competent on his feet as well, but his advantages are certainly on the ground, where he is one of the craftiest fighters in all of MMA. Horn's wrestling has improved greatly since the time of their first fight, so it will be interesting to see if Horn can get Liddell to the ground - something Couture was unable to do at UFC 52. However, it is likely that at some point in the fight Liddell will get through Horn's guard with those knockout punches and put an end to the match.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Chuck Liddell
Randy Couture vs. Mike Van Arsdale
Randy Couture looks to make his climb back to the top of the light-heavyweight division in a match against former heavyweight competitor Mike Van Arsdale. This is Couture's first fight since losing to Chuck Liddell by knockout at UFC 52, so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back, having never been previously knocked out.
Couture is a heavy favorite in this fight, but Van Arsdale's wrestling ability matches up well against him. This fight is a rare instance where Couture may not be able to dominate position, as Van Arsdale is an equally as talented wrestler. Couture has shown to be vulnerable while on his back, although no one has been able to place him there since moving to the light-heavyweight division. Couture is superior to Van Arsdale is virtually every other aspect of the fight game, so he should be able to find a way to defeat Van Arsdale and place himself back into title contention.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Randy Couture
Frank Trigg vs. Georges St. Pierre
In what many are predicting to be the most exiting fight of the night, and is certainly the most evenly matched, Canadian welterweight Georges St. Pierre takes on American Frank "Twinkletoes" Trigg. The outcome of this bout will help to determine the welterweight division hierarchy, as both fighters are former No. 1 contenders and both lost championship bids against perennial champ Matt Hughes, Trigg having actually lost twice to Hughes. On paper, the fight looks to be spectacular. Both fighters are tremendous athletes - two of the most finely conditioned fighters in all of the UFC - and both bring an exceptional set of fighting skills to the table.
Trigg is known for his exceptional wrestling ability, so he should be in control of whether the fight stays on the feet or goes to the ground. However, St. Pierre has demonstrated that he is difficult to takedown and just as difficult to control once on the ground. St. Pierre has the advantage in submissions, but Trigg has shown an ability to avoid submissions from some of the most highly skilled submission artists in MMA.
If the fight evolves into stand-up war, which it very well could, both men have displayed competent striking skills. What may be the deciding factor in this fight are their respective mental states. Trigg is coming off his crushing second loss to Matt Hughes, his second chance at a championship, so his confidence may not be at a high point. St. Pierre is coming off a dominating victory over Jason Miller, so positive momentum is in his favor. Despite this, Trigg should be able to pull out the victory.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Frank Trigg
Diego Sanchez vs. Brian Gassaway
Diego Sanchez, the middleweight division winner of the "The Ultimate Fighter" reality television show, drops to the welterweight division to make his first UFC PPV appearance in a match against UFC newcomer Brian Gassaway. The welterweight division is a much better fit for Sanchez, as he would be under-sized in the middleweight division. The UFC is bringing in Gassaway for this fight, most likely to give Sanchez a chance to develop, rather than feed him to the wolves after winning on the highly popular television show. However, Gassaway is a legitimate opponent, highly experienced, and Sanchez will have to work to prove he belongs in the UFC.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Diego Sanchez
Tim Sylvia vs. Tra Telligman
In the sole heavyweight match-up of the night, former UFC champ Tim Sylvia takes on veteran MMA fighter Tra Telligman. The 6'8" Sylvia will be looking to place himself back into title contention after having lost his championship to Frank Mir at UFC 48 and then losing his shot at the interim heavyweight title against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 51. Things have not gone especially well in the UFC for Sylvia since testing positive for steroids on back-to-back occasions after winning the heavyweight crown, but he should be able to get back into the winner's circle with this fight against Telligman. Telligman is no slouch - he's thrown down with some of the sport's top names and has developed some excellent striking skills - but at age 40 he is on the downward swing of his career, and Sylvia's size and reach will be too much for him to handle.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Tim Sylvia
Matt Lindland vs. Joe Doerkson
UFC veteran Matt "The Law" Lindland takes on Canadian fighter Joe Doerkson in a middleweight match-up, the winner of which will be one step closer to a fight with division champion Rich Franklin.
Both men are talented grapplers, with Lindland having world-class wrestling skills and Doerkson having a strong Brazilian Jiu Jitsu background. Both men are adequate strikers, but this fight will likely be determined on the ground. Lindland looked impressive in his last fight against talented BJJ fighter Travis Lutter, while Doerkson squeaked by with a decision victory in a hard-fought battle against fellow Canadian Patrick Cote. Lindland's wrestling dominance and awkward style should be enough to defeat Doerkson.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Matt Lindland
Travis Lutter vs. Trevor Prangley
In the second middleweight match of the night, Travis Lutter takes on South Africa's Trevor Prangley. Lutter's last UFC appearance was a loss to Matt Lindland at UFC 52, but he has fought and won in another event in the interim, hopefully regaining some confidence along the way. Prangley won his only other UFC appearance against Curtis Stout at UFC 48. Both fighters are excellent grapplers with adequate striking ability but Prangley is the better athlete of the two and that will be the deciding factor.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Trevor Prangley
James Irvin vs. Terry Martin
In a light-heavyweight match-up, James Irvin will take on UFC rookie Terry Martin. Irvin looked absolutely horrible in his first UFC appearance, losing by knockout to Mike Kyle. That fight was in the heavyweight division, so Irvin may be hoping to find more success in a smaller weight class. However, he is not likely to find it against Martin, who is superior standing up and on the ground.
UFC 54: Boiling Point Winner: Terry Martin