Wednesday, June 10, 2009
We continue our weekly trip through the Main Card of UFC 99 with an intriguing bout that has me asking more questions than I can possibly answer.
Is welterweight where Mike Swick is going to shine?
Can Ben Saunders put on a similar display to his last fight against a much more talented opponent?
We'll try to answer both after the jump.
Mike Swick (13-2) versus Ben Saunders (7-0-2)
Clearly, the edge in quality of opponents goes to Swick, a graduate of the original Ultimate Fighter who has made a nice transition to the middleweight ranks after beginning his UFC career at 185.
His last loss came to Yushin Okami, a fighter many believe is the most deserving of a shot at Anderson Silva's Middleweight belt, while he has stopped the likes of Marcus Davis, Jonathan Goulet, Joe Riggs and David Loiseau.
Saunders, on the other hand, came to the UFC via TUF 6 where he was eliminated from the competition by Tommy Speer. Since then, Saunders has steamrolled his challengers, including disposing of Brandon Wolff in impressive fashion at UFC Fight for the Troops in December.
As there are no shared opponents, our next step is usually to decipher who comes from the better team, but this one is a push. Swick trains with Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Cain Velasquez and company at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, while "Killa B" has set up shop with American Top Team, meaning his training partners include guys like Thiago Alves, Denis Kang and Wilson Gouveia.
What makes this fight all the more interesting is the resonating image of Saunders driving knee after knee after knee into the face of Brandon Wolff. His Thai Clinch looked very, very good on that night and many fans and followers have climbed about the Ben Saunders Bandwagon.
But was that an inaccurate representation of his skills? Wolff is now gone from the UFC following another loss and Saunders has beaten the equivalent of a ham sandwich compared to the talents Swick has earned wins over. My man Zak Woods at Watch Kalib Run breaks down the Ben Saunders situation best.
Thing is, a lot of guys have had inauspicious starts only to find that groove in what looks like a meaningless fight and go on to bigger and better. Who am I to say that bigger and better doesn't start Saturday for Ben Saunders?