by Matt Rogers - 08/01/2005
On Saturday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will mark an important milestone when, for the first time ever, a full UFC event will be shown live on Spike TV.
The UFC "Ultimate Fight Night" card is stacked heavily with contestants from the popular "The Ultimate Fighter" reality television series, with eight out of the sixteen fighters having competed on the show. Many of the match-ups have been made to give the cast members a chance to prove they have the skills to be successful in the octagon, while also giving fans of the show another look at the television contestants.
UFC Ultimate Fight Night Matchups and PicksNathan Marquardt vs. Ivan Salaverry
The headliner for UFC Ultimate Fight Night pits Nathan Marquardt against tough UFC veteran Ivan Salaverry. The winner of this match-up will most certainly be in contention for a future title shot against UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin. While this is Marquardt's first UFC appearance, he has enjoyed a great deal of success in Pancrase, a popular Japanese fighting organization. Salaverry has been impressive in his recent UFC appearances, and has only lost once in the octagon, against perennial middleweight contender Matt Lindland. Marquardt and Salaverry bring similar packages to the table - strong stand-up skills and an intricate knowledge of submissions. However, Salaverry is the bigger, physically stronger of the two, and has been training with former UFC light-heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz in preparation for this fight. This should add some wrestling ability to Salaverry's arsenal, giving him an edge for victory.
Winner: Ivan Salaverry
Pete Spratt vs. Josh Koscheck
This fight is an example of the classic match-up of striker versus grappler, somewhat of a rarity with today's cross-trained fighters. Koscheck is an exceptionally talented wrestler with limited stand-up striking ability, while Spratt is a highly skilled muay thai kickboxer with a very basic knowledge of the ground game. Koscheck possesses tremendous takedowns, yet has not demonstrated the ability to consistently finish his opponents once he gets them to the ground. If he wins, it will mostly likely be by judges' decision, after controlling Spratt on the ground for all three rounds. However, Spratt's striking skills give him the ability to end the fight at any moment while the fighters are on their feet. If Koscheck has not learned to properly defend knee strikes while in the clinch, it could be a bad night for him at the UFC Ultimate Fight Night.
Winner: Pete Spratt
Pete Sell vs. Nate Quarry
Both of these middleweights are coming off impressive performances in their last UFC appearances. Sell scored an upset when he choked out power-puncher Phil Baroni at UFC 51, while Quarry scored a TKO victory over mixed martial arts veteran Shonie Carter at UFC 53. Both fighters come from strong camps, with Quarry a member of Team Quest and Sell training under Renzo Gracie black belt and UFC veteran Matt Serra. Both men are athletic and possess all-around technical skills, but Quarry has a slight advantage on the feet and Sell may be a bit better on the ground. However, Quarry's wrestling should allow him to negate Sell's advantages and give him the win.
Winner: Nate Quarry
Sam Hoger vs. Stephan Bonnar
With this fight, two light-heavyweight members of the "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show face off. Fans will remember Bonnar from the knock-down, drag-out light-heavyweight final match he had with overall series winner Forrest Griffin. Officially, Bonnar lost the fight, but he was still awarded a six-figure contract with the UFC for his tremendous effort. Meanwhile, Hoger scored a unanimous decision victory over fellow cast member Bobby Southworth at the same event. Hoger has a slight edge on the ground, but Bonnar's aggressive stand-up and athletic superiority will prove to be too much for Hoger to handle.
Winner: Stephan Bonnar
Patrick Cote vs. Chris Leben
Canadian fighter Patrick Cote requested this match-up against Leben with the pretence of defending Canada's honour, as Leben made some disparaging remarks about "Canadia" during his colourful run on the "The Ultimate Fighter" reality television series. In actuality, this challenge is simply a smart move by Cote to keep himself in the UFC spotlight. He has lost two straight UFC fights and is in danger of being removed from the middleweight line-up (even if one loss was at a heavier weight class against former champ Tito Ortiz and the other was a hard fought, back-and-forth battle against Joe Doerkson). The fight against Leben should be an exciting one, as both men prefer to throw bombs while standing, and they both possess enough power to put the other's lights out. A slight advantage goes to Cote - his striking is a bit sharper and, having been a light-heavyweight for most of his career, he is physically stronger.
Winner: Patrick Cote
Mike Swick vs. Keith Rockel
Swick, who competed in the light-heavyweight division on the "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series, is dropping down to middleweight for this UFC appearance. The middleweight division is a much more natural fit for Swick, as he can use his length and reach much more effectively at 185. Rockel is no stranger to the UFC - this will be his third appearance in the octagon - but he has never been a real threat in the middleweight division. Swick is much better than Rockel standing and is, at the very least, equal to him on the ground. Rockel is tough, and may be physically stronger than Swick, but Swick takes this one.
Winner: Mike Swick
Kenny Florian vs. Alex Karalexis
This is another fight that pits two former members of the "Ultimate Fighter" reality show against one another. Florian fared much better than Karalexis on the series, making it to the middleweight finals, yet both men were beaten relatively easily by the middleweight division winner, Diego Sanchez. Florian's ground skills are far superior to those of Karalexis, but Karalexis' knockout power gives him the edge standing. The major question mark in this fight will be whether or not Florian will fight a smart game plan and take the fight to where his strengths are. If he does, he should be able to use his technical superiority to defeat Karalexis.
Winner: Kenny Florian
Drew Fickett vs. Josh Neer
Fickett did not look very impressive in his UFC debut against Nick Diaz at UFC 51, but in reality he is a much better fighter than what he showed. First-time jitters may have gotten the best of him, because he had consistently fought well before his UFC appearance. He will have no easy task in his second try when he faces UFC newcomer Josh Neer. Both fighters are skilled wrestlers and tough as nails. The winner will be the man who is able to consistently put the other on the bottom, as neither fighter has demonstrated an ability to fight especially well off of his back.
Winner: Josh Neer