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The Specialists
UK SCENE: Boxing vs. MMA, Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping preview and prediction, St. Pierre-Hardy preview, UK News & Notes
By
Feb 15, 2010 - 8:18:41 PM

***By Chris Park, MMATorch UK Specialist

This week British Boxing promoter, Frank Warren was presented with the "The UFC Question." In an interview with MetroSport, Warren was asked if the threat posed to Boxing by the UFC worried him. Warren replied: "No, not at all. They're totally different disciplines with totally different audiences. Floyd Mayweather Jr. against Juan Manuel Marquez got one million buys on American TV and UFC at the same time got 250,000."

Warren said he was not worried, but the response he gave suggests to me that he is. Firstly, the Mayweather fight was the example used. That was in Septembe, and since then there has probably only been one other "Big" boxing event - Pacquiao vs. Cotto.

In the same time span UFC alone have put on six main cards. Furthermore, there was The Ultimate Fighter, Fight Nights, as well as the WEC and Strikeforce events.

Mayweather's comeback was huge for Boxing. However, it was a one-off. Boxing is so thin on the ground now that all the big fights are one-offs. Hatton vs. Pacquiao, Haye vs. Valuev, Mayweather vs. Marquez. I can count on one hand the fights from 2009 that I had been eagerly waiting to see.

Pacquiao vs. Mayweather will be huge - the biggest Boxing event in history, no doubt -but what happens after that fight? The Mosley fight will still be big, but Pacquiao vs. Clottey? It's not exactly getting the heart pounding, is it?

The fact of the matter here is that while Boxing manages to put on half a dozen fights a year that capture the imagination, UFC is putting hugely competitive cards on every single month.

If Boxing attempted to go head-to-head with the UFC every fourth calendar week, then they would fail miserably.

I can't wait to one day see Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, but three or four super-fights a year will not be enough to stand in the way of the worlds fastest growing sport.

TO BECOME A LEGEND

From the moment Wanderlei Silva announced his decision to move to 185, I prayed that one day we would all get to see this fight. We are now less than a week away from the UFC's first trip to Australia, a card that is absolutely stacked from top to bottom.

The event will air live in the UK and America at the same time line as an event usually airs, with the local time being around noon on Sunday.

After taking the first step back on the road to victory, Michael "The Count" Bisping will be looking to erase his loss to Dan Henderson by taking the scalp of another Pride Legend and great of MMA.

Bisping told UFC.com: "I'm very excited. Number one; I'm fighting a legend like Wanderlei Silva. Based on the losses he has had recently I think it's gonna make him more dangerous than he usually is. I've got nothing but respect for Wanderlei but that respects gotta go out the window - I gotta fight this guy. On 21 February we're gonna fight and I'm looking to knock him out".

Wanderlei has looked his usually calm self in the build up to this fight. He could, however, be accused of taking Bisping too lightly. Wanderlei said: "I like to fight in the stand-up. I'm not afraid of being punched. Not afraid of cuts. Not afraid of nothing. I don't think this guy has the power to knock me out. This fight is very important for me... I need to win."

Wanderlei was originally scheduled to headline this card against Yoshihiro Akiyama. With both Silva and Akiyama popular on the Japanese circuit, this was seen as a clever piece of business until Bisping's domination of Dennis Kang made him as an opponent seem even more appealing.

It would now appear that Akiyama could end up facing the winner of this bout, possibly at an event to be staged in Japan.

Bisping absolutely demolished Kang, who himself was a big name in Japan. That victory would have significantly raised his profile with Japanese MMA fans. Should he overcome Wanderlei Silva, a showdown with Akiyama could well be what's next in store for "The Count."

Bisping is clearly excited by the opportunity of facing one of the biggest stars of the sport and getting a second shot at claiming a win over an all time great. Bisping said: "I've got the best job in the world. I get to beat a legend like Wanderlei Silva; I get to fight in Sydney. What's not to be excited about?"

There will be several key factors in this fight, but I personally think it will all come down to the game plan of Bisping. If he comes in aggressive or goes looking for an early knockout, he will very likely be caught himself. What Michael Bisping has is the ability to compete at one hundred miles an hour. Look at his second round against Dennis Kang.

Kang is a highly respected veteran who simply could not stand up to the pace and pressure that was presented to him by Bisping. If Bisping can use the first round to loosen up and take the initial sting out of Silva, then I think the fight is his to lose.

Wanderlei Silva has not really been cutting much of any weight for well over a decade. The cut to 185 at this stage of his career could well play a huge part against a fighter like Michael Bisping. Should Bisping use his head and survive an initial onslaught, I see his pace playing a huge part.

With that in mind, my prediction for this one is Michael Bisping to win via Unanimous Decision or even a late stoppage similar to the one against Kang. The risk of a knockout from Wanderlei, however, will be ever present.

Bisping added: "Come and hit me, come and knock me out - of course that's what you're gonna try to do... I look forward to the challenge."

ALL ROADS LEAD TO 111

With UFC 110 less than a week away, attention from the UK will very quickly turn to March 27. Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy will fly to Newark, New Jersey to take one of the sports best ever pound-for-pound champions.

Since losing his title to Matt Serra at UFC 69, George St-Pierre has looked nothing short of invincible. First he destroyed former champ Matt Hughes in their rubber match before out-wrestling and dominating Josh Koscheck in what was deemed a number one contender match up.

Indeed, that was exactly what it turned it to be for St. Pierre, as he was granted his rematch with Serra in what is still the fastest-selling event in UFC history.

UFC 83 was in the home town of GSP, Montreal, and a hostile crowd made their feelings felt towards Serra known as the champion made his way to the Octagon.

As if the script had been written, the belt changed hands as St. Pierre dominated Serra and stopped him, avenging the knockout defeat that cost him his title.

St. Pierre went on to dominate - and I mean dominate - the next three pretenders to his throne: Jon Fitch, B.J Penn, and Thiago Alves. So who could be next? The winner of Mike Swick vs. Martin Kampmann was the plan, until late replacement Paul Daley defeated Kampmann via virtual decapitation.

That left us with the quickly rearranged Welterweight clash at UFC 105 between Mike "Quick" Swick and Nottingham's own Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy. Few gave Hardy a chance, but on this night he simply picked his man apart, rocking Swick on several occasions before cruising to a unanimous decision, setting up his own showdown with Georges St. Pierre.

Hardy will be the first British fighter to compete for a UFC Title and, regardless of the outcome, that is an honour he will hold forever. At the very least I expect "The Outlaw" to make this fight competitive... something his last five opponents have failed to do.

OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF

-Matt Serra this week endorsed Dan Hardy's attempt to capture the Welterweight Title. Serra, the last man to beat champ GSP, stated: "He seems like he has it all figured out; he's gonna take a page out of my book. But he's bigger and more technical (than me), so I think he's gonna do fine.

-Michael Bisping has been taking five minute ice baths ahead of his UFC 110 bout with Wanderlei Silva. Bisping has been training at The Elite Fight Gym in Sydney for the last week, where the method is extremely popular. Bisping has uploaded a video blog on youtube.com live from his ice bath which is hysterical.

-After losing his debut to Joey Beltram last week, Rolles Gracie has been cut from the UFC already. Gracie was due to fight British Heavyweight Mostapha Al Turk, only for the Brit to withdraw due to Visa issues.

-UCMMA has announced this week that all fighters will be subject to mandatory blood testing with immediate effect. The organisation has implemented this change with fighter safety being stressed here as the number one priority.

-Dan "The Wrestler" Hardy has uploaded a one off video on youtube.com that I recommend every person with a sense of humour watch.

I want to wish Michael Bisping all the luck in the world this weekend as he tackles Wanderlei Silva. This could easily end up being fight of the night, or even an early contender for Fight of the Year. Join me as I pick the bones of this one next week.

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Chris Park is the MMATorch UK Specialist. Please email any comments or questions to Chris at; mmatorchpark@gmail.com or look us up at http://www.facebook.com/mmatorchuk our new MMATorch Facebook home for UK Fans!

[Michael Bisping art credit Cory Gould (c) MMATorch]

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