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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief UFC 99 comes live on pay-per-view Saturday afternoon U.S. time from the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. With 12 fights scheduled for the German fans, including six guaranteed for the pay-per-view broadcast, this is a card filled with match ups that are all but certain to be crowd pleasers. Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva clash at a catchweight in the main event, but before we get there we're set with eleven other fights. Here's what's on tap this Saturday:
Unaired Preliminary Card
John Hathaway vs. Rick Story: Story makes his UFC debut in this fight against the undefeated Hathaway. Hathaway made his own debut back in January at UFC 93 with a first round destruction of Thomas Egan. The Brit is a veteran of Cage Rage and has compiled a perfect 10-0 record coming into this bout. He's finished five straight fights with four by TKO and one by submission. This is just a tough spot for Story coming in and I see Hathaway with another first round TKO in his second Octagon appearance.
Denis Stojnic vs. Stefan Struve: Both Stojnic and Struve were given extremely difficult tests in their respective UFC debuts. Stojnic had to face off against Cain Velasquez, who is also appearing on this card, and Struve had to face off against another heavyweight up and comer in Junior Dos Santos. Struve is eight years younger than Stojnic, but he has three times the number of fights under his belt. Before running into the striking power that Dos Santos brings to the table Struve had put together 13 wins in his career, most by way of submission. Stojnic was beaten pretty handily in the stand up game by Velasquez, and the taller, lengthier Struve will look to do the same in the ground game. Second round submission for Struve.
Paul Kelly vs. Roli Delgado: Paul Kelly makes his debut in the lightweight division in this fight after compiling a 2-1 record in the UFC at welterweight. His sole loss to date was a submission loss to Marcus Davis back in October of 2008. The Wolfslair product faces the Ultimate Fighter season 8's Roli Delgado. Delgado defeated cast member John Polakowski on the season eight finale in his official Octagon debut, though he lost twice during the season in the "exhibition" bouts. Suffice it to say, Delgado's in over his head against Kelly. He's gone to a decision in his two Octagon victories, but he's been up against tougher competition. Kelly gets back to finishing fights here with a first round TKO.
Paul Taylor vs. Peter Sobotta: England's Paul Taylor has compiled a 2-3 record inside of the Octagon, but those three losses all garnered him some hefty bonus money as all three received "Fight of the Night" honors. Also, two of those fights went to the judges scorecards, with Marcus Davis being the only one to stop him with a first round armbar. Peter Sobotta is a German fighter making his UFC debut in his home country. None of his fights have gone to a decision, but he's not yet faced the anyone at Taylor's level. In what is guaranteed to be a blast, I'm going to go with Sobotta for my upset of the night with a second round TKO with the backing of the Germans in the crowd.
Dennis Siver vs. Dale Hartt: Dennis Siver is another German fighter on this Cologne card, and though he's only 2-3 in the Octagon, he has won two straight fights with his last bout landing him the "Knockout of the Night" at UFC 93 in January. Hartt is 1-1 in the Octagon, though that one win was due to Corey Hill's gruesome broken leg in their bout in December. Siver's got a penchant for pulling off submissions throughout his career, and Hartt's only loss was to Shannon Gugerty by submission in his UFC debut. I'm going with the hometown Siver here with a second round submission.
Terry Etim vs. Justin Bucholz: Etim brings a 3-2 record in the Octagon into this bout, with both losses being by decision. He's a submission specialist coming off of a TKO victory in February at UFC 95. Bucholz is 1-1 in the Octagon, with both of those bouts ending by submission. The 23 year old Etim will be looking to continue his two fight winning streak on his home continent against the American Bucholz. The betting lines are heavy in favor of Etim, and I wouldn't go against that here. Etim via first round submission.
Main Pay-Per-View Card
Spencer Fisher vs. Caol Uno: Fisher is a beast. He's 7-3 in the UFC, with those three losses coming to Sam Stout, Hermes Franca and Frankie Edgar. Of those three, only Franca finished him. He holds victories over Thiago Alves, Dan Lauzon, Jeremey Stephens and most recently Shannon Gugerty to name a few. Caol Uno is making his return to the UFC after almost six years away from the organization. One of the early faces of the UFC's then Bantamweight division and then Lightweight division, Uno has had an up and down career but has compiled a 10-5 in Japan in both K-1 and DREAM. He's coming off of a decision loss to top lightweight Shinya Aoki at DREAM 5 in July of last year, giving him an 11 month layoff coming into this bout. His losses have all come against top competition, and he's hoping to make a successful return. This is a tough bout to call, as both are very good lightweight fighters and are both looking to make statements in this fight. At this point in their respective careers, however, Fisher's looking more impressive and may have more to gain from this bout. Fisher via unanimous decision.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic vs. Mostapha Al-Turk: Cro Cop makes his return to the UFC for a second chance at success in the Octagon. After his storied career in PRIDE, Cro Cop's first stint in the UFC was filled with disappointment, getting knocked out by a head kick from Gabriel Gonzaga and losing a decision to Cheick Kongo. Making his return against a large Croatian population in Germany, Cro Cop is sounding more motivated and looking to make a run at a UFC title. Standing in his way is Mostapha Al-Turk, the former Cage Rage Heavyweight Champion who was destroyed in his UFC debut by the aforementioned Kongo. This is Cro Cop's chance for Octagon redemption and in all honesty I don't see any way Al-Turk has a chance in this fight. Cro Cop via first round TKO.
Marcus Davis vs. Dan Hardy: The war of words between Hardy and Davis has brought this fight up a level in anticipation, and you can be sure these two will be out there to beat the hell out of each other. Hardy proved he has knockout power in his last bout with Rory Markham, but he's yet to face anyone as dangerous as Marcus Davis. Davis is 13-1 since losing to Melvin Guillard on the Ultimate Fighter 2 finale card, and the one loss was a decision to Mike Swick. Davis has transformed his strictly boxing background and has become a complete MMA fighter, as likely to submit his opponents and knock them out. Hardy's disrespected Davis at every turn due to his perception of Davis as a "fake Irishman." This is a bout that will electrify the crowd and is one of many that is primed to take "Fight of the Night" honors on this card. For Hardy, however, the electrification of the crowd will be due to the hands of Marcus Davis stopping him in the second by TKO.
Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders: Here's another bout that screams "Fight of the Night." You better believe someone's getting messed up in this fight, as the quick hands of Swick match up with the devastation that is Ben Saunders. Since his time on the Ultimate Fighter's first season, Swick has done almost nothing but win in the UFC. He earned his nickname "Quick" with two straight victories in a combined :42 seconds, and has only dropped one bout, to Yushin Okami, in the Octagon. After making the drop to the welterweight division it took Swick a fight to get into full shape and look like the "Quick" of old. He decimated Jonathan Goulet in December and looks to make his way toward a title in the 170 lb. division. That's no easy task against Saunders, who has been nothing short of impressive since his stint on the Ultimate Fighter. He devastated Brandon Wolff with knees in the clinch back in December, and now he's set to take on his toughest test to date in Mike Swick. You can't blink during this fight, as someone's bound to get knocked out, and I'm seeing the slight upset in the freight train that is Ben Saunders. Second round TKO.
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez: Cheick Kongo and Cain Velasquez are two of the contenders right now in the UFC's heavyweight division. For Velasquez, this position has come from three straight devastating TKO's in the UFC. Though he hasn't faced a top competitor yet, many see the future of the division in the former Arizona State All American. Cheick Kongo has been positioning himself for a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Title with three straight TKO victories of his own. Though his two losses have come due to split decisions against two fighters who were able to score points with takedowns, it's an area Kongo has been working on and his striking is still as dangerous as ever. This is a fight that could place Kongo into the slot of first challenger to the winner of Mir-Lesnar in July, or it could catapult Velasquez close to that spot himself. Many are going to pick Velasquez because of the potential he's shown with his devastating stand up game and wrestling base, but Kongo's a much better striker than anyone Velasquez has faced to date and if his takedown defense is even adequate this is Kongo's fight to lose. He wants a title shot, and if he's ever going to get it he needs to win this bout against an awesome fighter in Velasquez. We haven't seen Velasquez's chin tested, but Kongo's going to be the one to do it. If he can get a knockdown or even a surprising takedown his ground and pound will be too much for even Velasquez to handle. Kongo via TKO in the second round.
Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva: This is being billed as a bit of a crossroads bout between Wanderlei Silva on his way down to 185 lbs and Rich Franklin looking to continue his career at 205. Since 2006, Silva's been knocked out cold three times, and he took a ton of punishment in a unanimous decision loss to Chuck Liddell as well. The cumulative effects of his ultra aggressive style along with the punishment he's taken just over the last few years have led many to call for his retirement. There comes a point where, even if we're fans of a fighter, we don't want to see him continue to put himself in harms way long past his time. For Wanderlei, if the KO loss at the hands of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in December wasn't enough to make him call it quits, who knows, it may take death or permanent injury. He's got heart upon heart, there's no doubt about that, but his ability to take a punch after those knockouts is in question heading into this bout. Rich Franklin is quite simply one of the best fighters in the world. He's been successful in a seemingly quiet fashion throughout his career, with his only losses coming to current Champions Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida as well as his most recent split decision loss to Dan Henderson in July. The loss to Henderson was a close fight and by no means proved that Henderson was the better fighter, just that he was better that night. Franklin is looking to get himself into contention at 205 after this bout, but first he has to take care of business in Germany on Saturday. Franklin's got the hands, the reach, the speed and the power to take care of Wanderlei this weekend, but Silva always has the puncher's chance and the uber-aggressive style to fluster Franklin at some point in the fight. That said, the catalyst to a Franklin victory may have been his training with Anderson Silva. Franklin will get his punches in, and Wanderlei's head won't be able to take the blows. Franklin takes it with a second round TKO.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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