by Drew "King" James - 03/03/2006
Sixteen of the top fighters from North America will be in action on Saturday night as The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns with its own twist on the World Cup. In the main event, American Rich Franklin makes the second defense of his title, as he takes on the challenge of top Canadian fighter David Loiseu.
The co-main event offers just as much, if not even more. BJ Penn will make his first appearance in the UFC after more than a three-year absence when he steps into the Octagon to face No. 1-rated welterweight contender Georges St. Pierre. Is it too much, too soon for BJ Penn? Will Franklin be able to handle the quick kicks and takedowns of the hungry challenger Loiseu? Read below to find out.
Middleweights (185 lbs): Rich Franklin vs. David Loiseu, March 4, 10:00 p.m. (EST)
Rich Franklin to Win: -265
David Loiseu to Win: +235
Doc's Undisputed Pick: Rich Franklin to Win
In the main event of the evening, Rich Franklin puts his middleweight title on the line, as he faces the always-electric David Loiseu.
When you think of the prototypical Mixed Martial Arts fighter, the first name that comes to mind is Rich "Ace" Franklin. He almost seems too good to be true at times. The reigning UFC Middleweight champion, Franklin (19-1) has fought from everywhere between middleweight and heavyweight. It really doesn't seem to matter which division he chooses, the fights all end the same way, with Franklin having his hand raised at the end.
Since joining the UFC, Franklin has compiled a record of 6-0, including wins over Evan Tanner (two times), Ken Shamrock and Nate Quarry. I should also mention that all but the second fight with Tanner (TKO, round 3), ended in the first round. Surprisingly enough, his only loss came to the hands of BJ Penn conqueror Ryoto Machida via referee's stoppage in the second round. It was a tough loss for Franklin, but most considered it a fluke defeat.
Working with world-class trainer Billy Rush, it's no surprise that Rich Franklin is considered one of the most well put together athletes in the history of the sport. His challenger, Montreal's native son David "The Crow" Loiseu (14-4), comes into this fight as a popular betting underdog.
After spectacular stoppages of former champion Evan Tanner and Charles McCarthy, it's no surprise why some MMA experts are very high on a Loiseu upset. Well, forget about it! Rich Franklin isn't Charles McCarthy. At least I can assure you he won't be stopped with a spinning back kick like McCarthy was. As we've seen in his fights with Jason St. Louis and Jorge Rivera, it doesn't take much to discourage David Loiseu, and once discouraged, the fight is over.
Look for a complete domination in the standup by Franklin, and if the fight goes the ground, look for Franklin to control the action there as well. I'm not saying that Loiseu won't have his moments, but as fights goes on, Franklin only seems to get stronger. I just can't see Loiseu stopping him in the first round. That being said, my pick is Rich Franklin to win at -265.
Welterweights (170 lbs): Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn, March 4, 10:00 p.m. (EST)
BJ Penn to Win: +133
Georges St. Pierre to Win: -143
Doc's Undisputed Pick: BJ Penn to Win
After more than two years away from the UFC, "The Prodigy" BJ Penn (11-2-1) returns to the Octagon to face top welterweight contender, Montreal's Georges St. Pierre (11-1).
Penn, 27, is making his much-anticipated return to the UFC after leaving over a contract dispute back in 2004. Considered by far the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Penn is a master of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, who needed just 4:41 to upset top welterweight star Matt Hughes via a rear naked choke for the title at UFC 46 in January 2004.
He is also the first American-born winner of World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship (Mundial) black belt category in 2000. Although BJ's been away from the UFC, the Hawaiian has kept himself busy fighting for top Japanese organization K-1 and Hawaii's Rumble on the Rock.
In his first fight outside the octagon, Penn submitted UFC welterweight veteran Duane Ludwig, and followed it up with a move up to middleweight (185 lbs) to take a decision from then undefeated Rodrigo Gracie. What followed after the Gracie victory can only be described as courageous. BJ Penn controversially packed on twenty pounds and moved up to heavyweight for a fight with undefeated Brazilian Ryoto Machida. Penn would go on to lose a decision, but at times, looked to be handling the much larger man with ease.
He also holds a victory over Caol Uno, and is the only man to stop Japanese lightweight phenomenon Takanori Gomi. In the opposing corner is one of the UFC's brightest young stars, Georges St. Pierre. St. Pierre, 26, is the reigning Canadian TKO Welterweight Champion. Since joining the UFC, the Montreal native has put together an impressive record of 5-1. The lone loss came in October 2004 to none other than Matt Hughes.
After controlling most of the opening round, Hughes caught St. Pierre in an arm bar, and Georges was forced to submit with only a second remaining in the round. Although he lost the fight, it seemed St. Pierre learned some sort of lesson, because he followed the loss by racking up four consecutive victories over top welterweights, including Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk and Jason "Mayhem" Miller. The Miller fight was competitive, but St. Pierre dismantled Frank Trigg in one round, and followed it up by becoming the first fighter to stop strongman Sean Sherk.
Despite facing the better opposition and holding an obvious size advantage, I just don't feel Georges St. Pierre is ready for someone with the Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills of a BJ Penn. That being said, my pick is BJ Penn at a tremendous value of +133.