The Ultimate Fighting Championship hits the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night for UFC 120. Read on for the main card fantasy game breakdown of this star-studded event...
James Wilks vs. Claude Patrick
Originally from Leicester, England, James Wilks is excited to be fighting in the country where he was born, and although Wilks now lives in the United States, he fought for Team UK on season nine of The Ultimate Fighter, and coached by Michael Bisping, Wilks went on to beat DaMarques Johnson in the finale and win a UFC contract. Since beating Johnson, Wilks has gone 1-1 and is looking to start a winning streak in hopes of becoming the second British fighter to fight for UFC gold.
Canadian Claude Patrick made his Octagon debut back at UFC 115, where he submitted Ricardo Funch in the second round. Although Patrick is currently riding an 11-fight winning streak, with nine of those fights finished in the first round, he hasn’t had the same exposure his opponent has been given by being on The Ultimate Fighter. Patrick knows that by fighting in front of millions of people watching worldwide, a strong performance will be long lasting for his career.
With both Wilks and Patrick being Brown Belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, expect to see them try to keep the fight standing over the course of a very evenly matched fight.
Cheick Kongo vs. Travis Browne
A teammate of Michael Bisping, Cheick Kongo is looking to build on his last outing inside the Octagon, where he took out Paul Buentello via strikes in the third round. With a victory on Saturday night, Kongo will end up with a successful 2-0 campaign in 2010 and start to forget about a 2009 that saw him lose two of three fights, albeit to Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir. At 35 years old, he knows the time is now if he wants to make a run at the heavyweight title.
Undefeated at 10-0, Travis Browne won his Octagon debut by beating James McSweeney in the first round, and although many watching on Saturday night may not know who he is, they may want to look him up before watching this fight. His last three fights before making his UFC debut lasted a total of 52 seconds, and by fighting on the televised portion of UFC 120, Browne is sure to gain a following with an impressive performance.
At 6’7”, Browne is known for his excellent Muay Thai and he plans to display that right from the start. Having been caught in multiple submissions throughout his career, Kongo isn’t going to mind a fighter who’s willing to stand and trade punches with him. Both of these fighters are big and powerful – look for a knockout at some point.
John Hathaway vs. Mike Pyle
Riding a perfect 14-0 professional record, John Hathaway is looking to keep his undefeated record intact on Saturday night while fighting in his home country. Most recently, Hathaway defeated Diego Sanchez in a fight many believed he wouldn’t win, and he knows that with another victory inside the Octagon, he will move one step closer to becoming a title contender in the welterweight division.
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Mike Pyle holds a 19-7-1 professional record. Making his UFC debut back at UFC 98, Pyle has gone 2-2 in his Octagon career, but he is coming off an impressive submission win over ultra-tough Jesse Lennox. Like his opponent, Pyle is aware that a victory on Saturday will move him further up the welterweight ladder.
Although Hathaway has yet to lose inside of the Octagon, three of his four fights have gone the distance. Look for him to push the pace and try to end the fight – leaving the judges out of it. Being very well rounded, expect to see him try to mix the fight up by keeping his opponent guessing whether or not he’s going to try and keep the fight standing or try to bring the action to the canvas. For Pyle, look for him to use his takedown defense to keep the fight standing, though if it goes to the ground, the submission master isn’t known as “Quicksand” for nothing.
Dan Hardy vs. Carlos Condit
Over the past couple of weeks, the war of words between Dan Hardy and Carlos Condit has added a lot of hype to a fight that was already getting a lot of attention.
After winning his first four fights in the UFC, with victories over Akihiro Gono, Rory Markham, Marcus Davis, and Mike Swick, Dan Hardy became the first British fighter to fight for a UFC title. At UFC 111, Hardy took on Georges St-Pierre for the coveted welterweight belt, and although Hardy lost a unanimous decision that night in Newark, NJ, he showed a lot of heart by going all 25 minutes with arguably the best fighter in the world today. But in that fight, it was evident that Hardy needed to improve his wrestling. After taking a little time off, Hardy traveled around the globe doing just that – working on his wrestling. Having improved on his takedowns and takedown defense, Hardy is looking to move back to the top of the 170-pound division quickly. Fighting on his own turf, Hardy knows that a victory over Condit on Saturday is imperative if he wants to one day win UFC gold.
A former WEC welterweight champion, Carlos Condit went 5-0 before moving over to the UFC when the WEC’s 170-pound division was eliminated. After losing his debut in the UFC to Martin Kampmann, Condit has gone on to beat Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. Prior to his loss to Kampmann, Condit had won 10 of his last 11 fights. On Saturday night, Condit is excited to be fighting a former number one contender in his opponent’s own backyard.
Both Hardy and Condit have excellent hands and we could be in for a 15-minute standup war, but don’t be surprised if both Hardy and Condit approach this fight differently. For Hardy, who was heavily criticized for his wrestling in his fight with GSP, look for him to try and show people around the world that his wrestling is no longer an issue. If he is able to bring the fight to the canvas, Hardy will need to look out for Condit’s jiu-jitsu. Having won 13 fights by submission, Condit won’t panic if Hardy is able to bring him down.
Michael Bisping vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
In the main event of UFC 120, British superstar Michael Bisping would like nothing more than to put on a strong performance fighting on his own soil. For Yoshihiro Akiyama, he hopes to spoil the party by beating Bisping in his own backyard.
Fighting out of The Wolfslair Academy, Manchester’s Michael Bisping became an instant star in the U.K. by defeating Josh Haynes in the Ultimate Fighter season three finale and winning the coveted six-figure contract with the UFC. Owner of an overall record of 20-3 – his three losses came at the hands of Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, and Wanderlei Silva - Bisping returned to form after getting beat by Silva at UFC 110 by beating Dan Miller. On Saturday night, Bisping looks to put together another long winning streak and move himself up the middleweight ladder and into title contention.
On Saturday night, well-rounded Japan native Yoshihiro Akiyama is fighting in what could be the biggest and most important fight of his professional career. Making his UFC debut at UFC 100, Akiyama won a split decision over Alan Belcher. Akiyama entered back into the Octagon at UFC 116, where he went over 14 minutes with Chris Leben but was submitted via triangle choke with 20 seconds remaining. With the depth in the middleweight division, he knows that losing two straight fights will leave him in a bad spot.
When the gate closes on Saturday night, expect fireworks when these two hard-hitting fighters engage in the center of the Octagon. For Bisping, who is a five-time British kickboxing champion, look for him to try and keep the fight standing – while waiting for his chance to end the fight in dramatic fashion. With 17 of his 20 wins coming by KO, TKO, or submission due to strikes – don’t be surprised if the fight doesn’t make it to the judges’ score cards.
For Akiyama, whatever happens, expect to see an action packed fight. In his win over Belcher and loss to Leben, both of his fights inside the Octagon were given Fight of the Night honors. Although Akiyama is comfortable on his feet, look for him to use his judo skills to bring the fight to the canvas - trying to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses. Although he is 1-1 in the UFC, don’t count him out because prior to his fight with Leben, he hadn’t lost since 2005.