Another weekend of hard-hitting action is upon us once again as the UFC hosts not one, but two events.
Fight Night 55 takes place this Friday from Australia while Fight Night 56 rounds off a jam packed weekend in Brazil; Pundit Arena previews the standout bouts.
Michael Bisping (25-6) vs Luke Rockhold (12-2) – UFC Fight Night 55 – Friday 7th November – UFC Fight Pass from 12am
It’s safe to say that Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold don’t really get along. Since the high profile main event was announced, the two have been involved in numerous verbal spats. The talking is done and this huge middleweight clash could see the winner shoot through the rankings and land themselves in line for a title shot.
Bisping, #9 has a very mixed record both before and after an injury lay off which kept him sidelined for a year. Consistency is the key to success and Bisping has won a fight only to lose his next.
Since an orbital injury kept the Manchester native out of action, he has fought twice this year already losing a UD decision to Tim Kennedy and beat Cung Le by TKO in Macao earlier this year. This will be the third headline spot for Bisping this year and he knows that a victory over Rockhold could be huge for his career.
This of course, is easier said than done. The former Strikeforce champion is ranked #5 in the division and has a submission and knock out victory to his credit already this year and will be looking to add another head to his growing collection.
Rockhold has only fought three times under the UFC banner and lost his first fight against Vitor Belfort since Zuffa took over the Strikeforce roster.
Rockhold is a submission expert with 7 of his 12 wins coming by this method. Rockhold will know however, that Michael Bisping has never been submitted in his 31 fight career. On the other hand, Bisping will be wary of Rockhold’s ability to finish fights having never seen a judges score card to date.
MMA rivalries are fantastic and this one has all the ingredients of a fiery contest. Bisping simply has to win or he will surely be bumped out of the top 10. Rockhold at #5 has been here before as challenger and champion and will be looking to make a statement to get his belt back.
Do not blink.
Al Iaquinta (9-3-1) vs Ross Pearson (16-7) – UFC Fight Night 55
Also on the Australian card, the co-main event consists of a lightweight contest between Al Iaquinta and Ross Pearson. Iaquinta fights for the 7th time under the UFC with four wins under his belt and he knows that a win over Pearson will propel him up the rankings.
Having fought less than two months ago, Iaquinta defeated Rodrigo Damm by TKO and will certainly want to keep the momentum going. The New York native is prone to submissions however, with all three of his defeats coming by way of submission.
Pearson will surely have done his homework and may look to add a sixth submission victory to his repertoire. The Brit has had a very hit and miss year thus far with one controversial decision loss to Diego Sanchez in Berlin and a follow up victory against veteran Gray Maynard.
A hat-trick of wins could, and really should have been on the cards for Pearson who, like many UFC fans and President Dana White, were perplexed by the split decision loss earlier in the summer.
With eleven stoppage victories to his credit (six KO/TKO – five submission) Iaquinta will have to be wary of a very dangerous opponent. Both fighters love to stand and bang and we could be treated to an all-out war but as I’ve mentioned previously, the American has been caught out on the mat before and this may be the opening that Pearson needs to guarantee victory.
“Shogun” Rua (22-9) vs Ovince St. Preux (16-6) – UFC Fight Night 56 – Saturday 8th November – BT Sport from 3:30am
In the main event from Saturday’s Brazilian card, we are treated to a mouthwatering top 10 clash between two outstanding light heavyweights in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Ovince St. Preux.
St. Preux comes into this fight on enemy territory and despite a decision loss to Ryan Bader earlier in the year the #10 seed has won four of his last five fights in the UFC and in some style too. It’s fair to say that St. Preux is highly well rounded with a multitude of KO/TKO and creative submission wins in his arsenal.
He is certainly a tricky opponent for anybody in the light heavyweight division “Shogun” will have to be on point for this contest.
A TKO loss to Dan Henderson this year in Brazil means that Rua has now lost three of his last five fights. The veteran can always pack a punch and with the home faithful behind him, Shogun will look to add a 20th KO/TKO victory this Saturday night for one last burst at a title shot.
It’s a division rich with talent and a victory against Saint Preux will certainly shake things up but the former Strikeforce competitor knows that a convincing finish against Rua will pave the way for UFC gold .
In truth, this fight card may be overshadowed by the rivalry between Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold but this could very well be the best fight of the weekend by some distance.
Be sure to check it out.
That’s it for this week’s Fight Night Preview and I hope you enjoy all the action that this weekend’s MMA action has to offer. Have a good weekend and be sure to check back on Tuesday for Pundit Arena’s ‘Tuesday Takedown’.
Shane Saunders, Pundit Arena