I will have the privilege of providing color commentary for UFC 83, which will be held on Saturday, April 19th in Montreal. Here's a preview of the main card.
Matt Serra (16-4) vs George St. Pierre (15-2)
George St. Pierre (GSP) may very well be the most gifted athlete in MMA today. At UFC 83, he faces Matt Serra, the only man to defeat him in brutal fashion. GSP mentions personal problems and bad training habits as reasons for his devastating loss to Serra.Now fighting in his backyard, GSP has the opportunity to redeem himself
GSP certainly has the ability to "out MMA" anyone. He is extremely well rounded, powerful and explosive. His wrestling skills are perhaps the best in the UFC despite others having a more extensive background. His striking is fluid, diverse and flows well with his wrestling. He also showed slick submissions skills and BJJ in his 2nd dominating win against Matt Hughes. In addition, GSP was able to contain BJ Penn on the ground for most of their match.
After his loss to Matt Serra, GSP came back strong with wins over a very tough Josh Koscheck and proved dominant over welterweight juggernaut Matt Hughes. With a renewed focus and determination, he is fighting to prove that Serra's win was a fluke.
Although Matt has had his ups and downs in MMA, he has always put on amazing fights - even in his losses. This Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt has consistently shown the heart of a champion, but it wasn't until he won TUF 4 and upset GSP that you could call him the "best in the world."
Like many other current and former UFC champions, Serra has found his best game later in his career. At every range of combat, he is extremely comfortable and can quickly make things dangerous for his opponent. Serra has added heavy hands to accompany his slick wrestling and ground skills.
Matt will be especially lethal on the feet if he can get on the inside of GSP's jab and unload short combinations. He will look to get on top with his takedowns and sweeps. Despite being the UFC welterweight champion, Matt feels that the pressure is on GSP, since he is the favorite fighting for the belt in his hometown. Look for Matt to come into this fight cool, calm and ready to play spoiler wherever this fight ends up.
Will GSP risk standing up with Serra and is the memory of his KO still fresh in his mind?
Can St. Pierre take the fight into Serra's world and challenge him on the mat?
Is Serra fully recovered from his back injury?
Will Serra execute another perfect game plan?
Travis Lutter (12-4) vs Rich Franklin (24-3)
This is an interesting match up between the Ultimate Fighter Season 4 winner Luttter and the former UFC Middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Travis has had some injuries that has kept him out of the Octagon. His last fight in the UFC was a 2nd round loss to current middleweight champion Anderson Silva back in February 2007. Meanwhile, Rich Franklin is also coming off of a 2nd round loss to Anderson Silva for the 2nd time.
This is fight is important to both guys if they expect to get another title shot. Lutter definitely showed flashes of brilliance against Silva when he was able to repeatedly take him down and put him in some bad spots on the ground. However, a possible lack of experience, a tough weight cut and Anderson's incredible skills caught up with Lutter as he was ultimately caught in the spider's triangle choke that forced him to submit.
Travis will need to once again take this fight to the ground against Franklin and use his experience on the ground to trap Franklin into a submission. Lutter certainly has this ability with his world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background.
Franklin's versatility and ability to execute game plans is well documented. He will need to keep this fight standing and drag Travis into the later rounds in order to test Lutter's cardio. Franklin always comes in tremendous shape. He is a tough opponent due to his southpaw stance, size and well rounded game. Mentally, he will need to put the losses against Silva behind him and recall on his experience as a champion to bring him to victory.
Nathan Quarry (14-2) vs Kalib Starnes (10-3-1)
Both Starnes and Quarry will be looking to continue their winning ways and move up the middleweight ladder. Both fighters are well rounded. Quarry has shown greater strength in the stand up department with his knock out power while Starnes has demonstrated more ability on the ground.
Quarry who has the heart of lion will test Kalib's resolve and chin as he looks for the advantage on the feet. Since Nate has good wrestling skills, he will try to create opportunities to sprawl and brawl with Kalib. Nate will also look to land his heavy hands. He should be comfortable enough with his grappling to get on top and work ground and pound.
Kalib will probably employ his striking as a measuring tool to get in and take Quarry to the mat where he can use BJJ black belt skills to set up a submission.
Starnes is getting more comfortable with each UFC fight. He will be motivated to make his fellow Canadians proud in his home country with a big win over Quarry. Nate is a true veteran of the fight game, who will be ready for a war.
Charles McCarthy (7-2) vs Michael Bisping (15-1)
Michael Bisping is making his debut as a middleweight. He is coming off of his very first loss as he faces Charles McCarthy. UFC fans have not seen Charles McCarthy since his TUF 4 finale win over Gideon Ray back in November of 2006.
Since Bisping has not yet fought at middleweight, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to this weight class. No doubt, he will be a large middleweight, who will give any middleweight fighter fits if he can cut weight without any problems. Bisping is an athletic, talented and well rounded fighter that loves a good scrap. He will have to stop the high pressure offense of McCarthy, who often starts very strong.
McCarthy has strong submissions that nicely compliment his wrestling skills and improved striking game. Bisping offers a more dangerous stand up game and is no slouch on the ground. He will need to utilize his speed and well rounded game to keep Charles guessing. McCarthy is keenly aware of Bisping's popularity, so he likely see's a tremendous opportunity to come in as an underdog and steal the Brit's thunder.
Mark Bocek (5-1) vs Mac Danzig (18-4-1)
This will be Mac Danzig's first UFC fight since winning Season 6 of the Ultimate Fighter. Mac comes in with much experience and a well rounded game. As a result, he has a mature approach to training and fighting, which makes him a tough challenger.
The Canadian Bocek is coming off of his first UFC win. He has been training with Henderson's Team Quest in Temecula. Bocek is now over the UFC jitters and will be fighting in his home country. He has world class BJJ mat skills and a very underrated wrestling game.
Although Bocek's striking is improving, his game plan in all probability revolves around taking this fight to the mat and frustrating Danzig with ground and pound with a slow/methodical submission game.
To counter, Danzig will need to utilize his solid footwork and speed to thwart Bocek's takedown attempts. Most likely, Mac will attempt to keep this fight standing. He will try to pressure the less experienced Bocek into making a mistake on the feet or on the ground. This should be another entertaining fight in the stacked lightweight division.