| Article Summary:
Then, hometown hero Brock Lesnar returns to the Octagon looking for his first UFC win against veteran fighter Heath Herring. And, in a fight with huge lightweight title implications, frontrunners Kenny Florian and Roger Huerta will battle for the right to be called No. 1 contender. This is going to be one helluva card!
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Champion Georges St. Pierre (16-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC)
Challenger Jon Fitch (21-2 MMA, 8-0 UFC)
What can you say about Georges St. Pierre except that he is the best welterweight fighter in the world and on everyone's top-5 list of best pound for pound fighters? And deservedly so. GSP has tremendous athleticism and conditioning, great standup, incredible submissions and may well be the best "MMA wrestler" in the sport.
His many hours training with the Canadian Olympic wrestling team gave him a clear advantage in his fights against Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck, both of whom were thought to be the best wrestlers in the division, until GSP dominated them in the wrestling portion of their fights.
In Fitch, GSP faces yet another talented wrestler. Fitch wrestled as a collegian at Purdue University but is far from one-dimensional. He is a big, strong welterweight with tremendous heart who is riding an undefeated 8-0 UFC record into the biggest fight of his life.
Fitch has beaten Diego Sanchez, Thiago Alves, Josh Burkman and Roan Carneiro on his way up the welterweight ladder. He displayed well-rounded skills in those victories. However, while Jon is a solid opponent for GSP, the champion is a little better in every area.
His wrestling should neutralize Jon's greatest strength and his striking, submissions and conditioning would appear to be one notch above Jon's. With a rumored fight with BJ Penn for the winner of this match in December, GSP must be careful not to look past Fitch as he did when he lost the title to Matt Serra last year.
Brock Lesnar (1-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Heath Herring (29-13-1, 2-2 UFC)
Anyone who saw Brock Lesnar's UFC debut against former heavyweight champion Frank Mir had to be impressed. Although Brock suffered a first-round submission, he was dominating Frank with his strength and ground and pound in the early going.
Brock is a huge, incredibly strong, agile and athletic former collegiate national wrestling champion who will rely on those attributes to make up for his inexperience in the stand-up and submission game. As he continues to train MMA and round out what he brings to the table, his future in the heavyweight division could be limitless.
For Heath Herring, this marks his 44th professional MMA fight, 41 more fights than Brock has had. To say that he has an advantage in experience might be the understatement of the year. He has fought a who's who of top MMA fighters including Fedor Emelianko, Mirko Cro Cop and Antonio Nogueira.
In fact, when he fought Nogueira in the UFC last year he caught him with a kick that dazed Antonio, but then allowed him to stand up instead of finishing him on the ground for what would have been the biggest win of his career. In his last fight, Herring scored a big split decision victory over heavily favored Cheick Kongo.
He has won more than half of his fights by submission but seems to prefer to stand up. When he made his UFC debut against wrestler Jake O'Brien he had no ability whatsoever to stop a takedown and couldn't do anything against O'Brien on the ground. While he is a vastly improved fighter since then, O'Brien isn't half the wrestler that Lesnar is, and that could make for a long night for Heath.
Kenny Florian (9-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC)
Roger Huerta (22-1-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC)
This fight should be nothing short of tremendous. Both fighters have incredible conditioning and tremendous heart and the winner gets a title shot. To say the least, the stage is set for fireworks. Hometown Roger Huerta is the only UFC fighter to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and has amassed an undefeated, 6-0 record in the UFC.
However, he is widely criticized for the caliber of fighters he has beaten. Names like Jason Dent, John Halverson, Alberto Crane and Doug Evans don't strike fear in the hearts of UFC lightweights and five of his six opponents are no longer fighting for the promotion.
In his last fight against Clay Guida, Roger showed his heart by pulling out a third round submission after losing the first two rounds. He has an aggressive fighting style, good standup and submissions and will be the stronger fighter in the cage that night.
In Florian, he will face a top-notch BJJ black belt with great Muay Thai skills who should have an edge in both areas. Kenny is definitely a finisher with his only fight to go the distance in his UFC career being a 5-round loss in a title fight against Sean Sherk.
He seems to improve every time he steps in the Octagon and has been impressive in his wins over Joe Lauzon, Mishima, Sam Stout and Alvin Robinson. Huerta has been quoted as saying "This is going to be a cakewalk," but I think it's going to look more like a war.
Manny Gamburyan (9-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
Rob Emerson (9-6-1 MMA, 1-0-1 UFC)
In a battle of two former Ultimate Fighter alums Gamburyan and Emerson will both try to use this fight to get noticed in the crowded lightweight division. Emerson is a solid kickboxer who scored a big underdog split decision victory over Nakamura in his last fight.
However, in his UFC debut against wrestler Gray Maynard only a bad decision by the referee prevented him from having a loss, instead of a draw, on his record. And that fight may hold the key to this one. Maynard had no trouble taking Emerson down and I have no doubt that the ultra-aggressive Gamburyan will be able to use his strength, judo and non-stop cardio to take Rob down as well.
Once on the ground, it's a mismatch. Manny has relentless ground and pound and great submissions. He finished his last two fights by first-round submission and if Rob isn't prepared, this one could well end the same way.
Jason McDonald (21-9 MMA, 4-2 UFC)
Demian Maia (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC)
Well this one could be interesting. McDonald has impressive submission victories over Chris Leben and Ed Hermann and TKO's over Joe Doerksen and Rory Singer. However, when he has stepped up in competition to Rich Franklin and Yushin Okami, he is 0-2. Jason is athletic, has solid standup, great submissions and good conditioning.
While Jason has great submissions, his opponent, Demian Maia, has world class submissions and has won multiple world championships in jiu jitsu. In his two appearances in the Octagon, both opponents have been choked out, one in the first round, the other in the second.
While Jason has a clear stand up advantage, Demian has a huge edge on the ground. Will he be able to get the fight down there and test McDonald's BJJ or will Jason's athleticism and stand up carry the day? We'll find out soon enough!