Once again, the Ultimate Fighting Championship travels down under to the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia, for another exciting night of fights headlined by the highly anticipated bout between former two-division champion BJ Penn and top contender Jon Fitch. Read the breakdown of the main card before submitting your fantasy picks.
BJ PENN VS. JON FITCH
In the main event of UFC 127, both BJ Penn and Jon Fitch know the importance of walking away with a victory in Australia. For Penn, he is looking to avoid losing three of his last four fights while moving back to the top of the welterweight division. For Fitch, the stakes are equally high, as a victory will put him back into position to challenge for the 170-pound title once again.
Having once reigned supreme in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions, people began to question if Penn still had the ability to fight at a world-class level after suffering back-to-back losses to current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. If there was any question as to whether or not Penn had lost his luster, his response to naysayers came quickly at UFC 123 when he dismantled former welterweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes by knockout in less than 30 seconds. At the age of 32, Penn’s days of fighting in the lightweight division may have come to an end, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a force to be reckoned with in the welterweight division. Like many fighters, the older you get – the harder it is to cut that much weight leading up to a fight and those difficulties have become apparent for Penn. Looking like the ‘Prodigy’ of old when fighting at 170 pounds, Penn and his camp believe he has what it takes to climb atop the welterweight division and once again have a world title put back around his waist.
Fighting out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, CA., Jon Fitch carries an impressive overall 26-3 (1 No Contest) record heading into his fight against Penn. Having only lost to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87 in 14 fights inside the Octagon, Fitch is currently riding a five fight-winning streak – with wins over Akihiro Gono, Paulo Thiago, Mike Pierce, Ben Saunders, and most recently, Thiago Alves. Fitch knows that a win over Penn will get him his second title shot.
In a contrast of styles, look for Penn to use his speed and superior boxing skills to end this fight the same way he beat another wrestler, Matt Hughes. It’s not every day that you see a fighter fly out to help train the guy who just beat him but that’s exactly what happened. Three weeks prior to Penn stepping back into the Octagon, Hughes flew out to Hawaii to help train Penn the wrestling skills that he will more than likely need to use to win. Many believe that having won 13 of his 14 fights in the UFC, Fitch has earned more than just the single title fight that he was given when defeated for the only time in the Octagon. During his current winning streak, all five fights have gone the distance and many would like to see a more exciting fight. Not only does Fitch expect to win the fight – look for him to try and do so in exciting fashion.
MICHAEL BISPING VS. JORGE RIVERA
In the co-main event of UFC 127, Michael Bisping, who is six years younger to the day than Jorge Rivera, will clash with the American in an effort by both to make their mark in the middleweight division.
With an overall MMA record of 21-3, British superstar and The Ultimate Fighter season three winner Michael Bisping went from competing on TUF to coaching Team UK six seasons later on The Ultimate Fighter season 9 – where his team produced both winners. Bisping is now looking to win his third straight fight in the Octagon. Having beaten Dan Miller and Yoshihiro Akiyama, Bisping finished his 2010 fight campaign strong after being defeated by Wanderlei Silva to start the year. Looking to carry his momentum into 2011, Bisping is looking to get one step closer to a UFC title fight opportunity.
Veteran UFC fighter Jorge Rivera is currently riding a three fighting winning streak – with wins over Nissen Osterneck, Rob Kimmons, and Nate Quarry. Making his UFC debut at UFC 44, Rivera will be making his thirteenth appearance inside of the Octagon. At 38 years old, Rivera knows that at his age, a loss will all but kill any chance of ever competing for a UFC world title.
Known for his crisp striking, look for Michael Bisping to try and keep the fight standing while he looks for his opportunity to end the fight with a vicious knockout – hoping to earn his fourth Fight of the Night bonus. For Rivera, look for him to try and use his strength to bring the action to the canvas – keeping Bisping on his back.
GEORGE SOTIROPOULOS VS. DENNIS SIVER
Out of the 24 fighters fighting on the UFC 127 fight card, it would be hard to imagine that there’s another fighter that’s more excited to be competing than George Sotiropoulos. Born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, Sotiropoulos will have a chance to fight in front of his own countrymen as a UFC fighter for the second time. Having won all seven of his fights in the UFC – with notable wins over Joe Stevenson, Kurt Pellegrino, and Joe Lauzon – a win on his own turf this weekend may get Sotiropoulos a chance to fight for the 155-pound crown.
With a 17-7 professional record, Dennis Siver is looking to beat his former training partner to win his third straight fight inside of the Octagon. Engaging in his 11th fight in the UFC, Siver has had his ups and downs since making his debut at UFC 70, but now, Siver has won six of his last seven fights.
In a contrast of fight styles, it’s also interesting to see whose game plan will reign supreme. For the Australian, look for Sotiropoulos to try and bring the action of the fight to the canvas – hoping to give every fan inside Acer Arena a win by submission. Siver, on the other hand, arguably has the best kickboxing in the lightweight division, so he’ll want to keep the fight standing. If he’s able to keep it on the feet, it could be a short night for his former training partner.
CHRIS LYTLE VS. BRIAN EBERSOLE
Having a 40-7-4 professional record, it’s hard to imagine that Chris Lytle also has time to be a full-time fireman in Indianapolis. After starting his UFC career with a 2-4 record, Lytle went on season four of The Ultimate Fighter where he made it to the finals before being defeated by Matt Serra. Since appearing on TUF, Lytle has put together a 7-4 record – including a three fight-winning streak. Although Lytle came up one fight short of getting a shot at the title after being defeated by Serra, Lytle evened the score the last time he was in the Octagon at UFC 119.
Making his Octagon debut in his adopted country of Australia, Brian Ebersole hopes to make it a memorable one by beating the veteran Lytle.
Although Lytle is comfortable keeping the fight standing or taking the action to the canvas, look for him to try and knockout his fellow veteran. For Ebersole, who’s a former Division I wrestler, look for him to immediately try and bring the action down to the mat – hoping to end the fight by ground and pound.
CHRIS CAMOZZI VS. KYLE NOKE
Fighting out of Lakewood, Colorado, Chris Camozzi was forced to leave season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter due to injury after winning his first fight of the competition. Although Camozzi didn’t win TUF 11, he was given a UFC contract and has won both of his fights, with wins over James Hammortree and Dongi Yang. Looking to win his third straight fight, Camozzi has the opportunity to put on an impressive performance on PPV that will give him the exposure he missed after being injured on TUF.
A fellow contestant on season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, Australian Kyle Noke won his first two fights on the show before losing a decision to Kris McCray. Although Noke will be making his Australian debut in the UFC, he is already 2-0 in the Octagon.
In a matchup between two fighters that are well versed in every aspect of the sport, it’ll be interesting to see where this fight goes. With such an even playing field, expect both fighters to stand and trade punches to see who has the better chin.