Can I just say how much day jobs suck? Always interfering with what I want to do...
Thankfully, Saturdays don't fall into my work schedule, which means I'll be seated in front of a television this Saturday to watch the very solid UFC 107 from Memphis, Tennessee.
Despite changes to the original plan ** cough Rampage cough ** this is an entertaining card, top-to-bottom, and we'll kick off our coverage by running through the preliminary card bouts.
Kevin "The Fire" Burns (7-3-0) vs. T.J. Grant (16-3-0)
Burns enters riding a two-fight losing streak and coming off a Fight of the Night bonus for his bout with Chris Lytle. Though he is strong on his feet, it's unlikely that Grant will be looking to stand and trade the way "Lights Out" was in June.
The Canadian collected most of his wins via submission and will certainly be keen on doing the same this time around as he looks to get back to his winning ways. Though he lost at UFC 100, Grant acquitted himself reasonably well, going the distance with the hard to handle Dong Hyun Kim.
DaMarques Johnson (13-7-0) vs. Edgar Garcia (7-1-0)
Here is what always amuses me about The Ultimate Fighter: the whole thing is based on winner the show to earn a six-figure contract with the UFC.
While that's all well and good, the fact that 2/3 of the cast always seem to make it into the company for two or three fights of their own makes the whole process a little redundant to me, outside of Bruce Buffer getting to introduce another middling prospect as "The Winner of Season 965 of The Ultimate Fighter."
For all his talk on Season 9, Johnson had one strong performance and it came in the semifinals against Nick Osipczak. Edgar Garcia was robbed of a win last time out against "Bad" Brad Blackburn and will prove to be a far more daunting debut for Johnson than Peter Sobotta would have been at UFC 105.
Rousimar "Toquinho" Palhares (11-2-0) vs. Lucio "Spartan" Linhares (13-4-0)
A battle of Brazilians with BJJ black belts, Linhares makes his UFC debut after a successful stint with M-1, while Palhares fights for the first time since defeating Jeremy Horn back at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland last January.
Though unknown to many, Linhares has excellent all-around skills and enters this bout with a five fight winning streak, including victories over well-regarded Karl "The Psycho" Amoussou and UFC veteran Sean Salmon.
Palhares, a member of Brazilian Top Team, is a submission specialist who will either make you tap or take you to the scorecards. Originally slated to face Alessio Sakara at last weekend's TUF 10 Finale, "Toquinho" actually gets a stiffer test with the submission savvy Linhares.
Johny Hendricks (6-0-0) vs. Ricardo Funch (7-0-0)
The battle of the unbeaten fighters as Team Takedown's Johny Hendricks returns to the cage to take on undefeated Team Link member Ricardo Funch.
For being described as a BJJ fighter, Funch has just one submission in his seven wins to date. Instead, Gabriel Gonzaga's teammate has earned most of his victories by way of T/KO and will look to do the same this time around.
Hendricks notably ruined Amir Sadollah's long-awaited debut in just 29 seconds at UFC 101 in Philadelphia, and brings an outstanding wrestling base into the cage.
Additionally - and totally unrelated to actually analyzing this fight - the dude loves The Baconater and could potentially have a Star Wars character in his corner should Marc Laimon decided to stick with the Ecko Star Wars gear he's been wearing as of late.
"Handsome" Matt Wiman (10-5-0) vs. "Sugar" Shane Nelson (12-4-0)
In the night's battle of horrible nicknames...
Honestly, is there a rule somewhere stating that if your name is Shane, your nickname has to be "Sugar?" And I just can't take a fighter, no, a person seriously if they refer to themselves as "Handsome" anything.
Besides being a battle of maddening monikers, this is probably a Loser Leaves Town match, as Wiman comes in off back-to-back losses, while Nelson was thoroughly dominated by Aaron Riley and would be far better suited to fighting at 145.
If there is a coin in your pocket, you'll need it for this one.
Alan "The Talent" Belcher (14-6-0) vs. Wilson Gouveia (12-6-0)
Belcher was extremely impressive (at least to me) in his UFC 100 bout with Yoshihiro Akiyama, dropping a paper-thin Split Decision to the debuting Japanese star. That said, his biggest win to date is either the recently released Denis Kang or the long-ago-released Jorge Santiago.
Gouveia is in a similar position; he looks great against lesser competition, but comes up short when faced with a stern test. Originally scheduled to fight James Irvin at UFC 102, a back injury forced the American Top Team trainee to withdraw from that bout, leaving him out of the cage for close to ten months.
This is one of those fights where one guy (Gouveia) has a distinct advantage in one area (submissions) but has shown a lack of interest / desire to utilize that portion of this skill set as of late.
If that changes, the Brazilian has a big advantage. If not, find that coin you had earlier and put it to use one more time.