Names you should - and will - know from UFC 95
Preview by Brady Crytzer
For the UFC, 2009 (to this point) has been all about expansion. With four professional cards in just two months, the UFC has ventured out of North America twice. On Saturday, February 21st London, England plays host to UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson. Although the headliners are UFC mainstays, the undercard is loaded with fringe contenders and, possibly, future champions. You should know them by now, and if you don’t…you will.
Keep an eye out.
1. Nate Marquardt/Wilson Gouveia (185 lbs.)
Marquardt: Almost two years ago middleweight champion Anderson Silva entered the pound-for pound debate by leaving Nate Marquardt in crumpled heap. Since his loss at the hands of the current king of MMA, Marquardt has become, well, a wrecking machine. He submits the submission masters and knocks out the strikers, all without skipping a beat. The winner of this fight could very well be the next in line for a crack at the pound for pound best in the sport, Anderson Silva.
Gouveia: Fortunately for us, Marquardt and our next future player are fighting each other at UFC 95. After showing potential at light heavyweight but having mixed success, the Brazilian Wilson Gouveia dropped down to the middleweight limit and hasn’t looked back. Gouveia is a jiu jitsu ace with an affinity for using his serious KO power. In his first UFC bout, Gouveia dropped a decision to Keith Jardine…and he hasn’t gone the distance since.
2. Josh Koscheck (170 lbs.)
What can be said about a fighter the caliber of Josh Koscheck? A Division I wrestling giant turned well rounded mixed martial artist? That’ll do. Despite his decision loss to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in 2007, Koscheck has proven that hard training pays off. Formally referred to by some as “the blanket,” the newly improved Koscheck has scored brutal highlight reel KO’s over Yoshiyuki Yoshida and Dustin Hazelett. With a newly signed UFC contract extension under his belt, the sky’s the limit for this former Edinboro University of Pennsylvania wrestling captain.
3. Rory Markham (170 lbs.)
Markham has had one fight in the UFC, and though seemed to be in trouble early, the spectacular headkick he finished the fight with left no doubt. A former International Fight League fan favorite, Markham is a no-nonsense banger with little regard for his own well being. There exists a unique caste of fighters in the welterweight division that may never fight for a world title but always steal the show. Chris Lytle, Marcus Davis, Paul Taylor…make room for Rory Markham.
4. Demian Maia (185 lbs.)
There is something special about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion Demian Maia. Although he hasn’t shown spectacular improvement in the striking department, Maia’s world class submission skills have made him, well, unbeatable. In nine pro bouts, Maia has finished eight opponents (including all four of his UFC opponents by choke.) He will be battling a very experienced wrestler in Chael Sonnen at UFC 95 who could be tailor-made to display Maia’s submission skills. But beware, Sonnen will push Maia like no one has before and answer a lot of important ticker questions about the Brazilian.
5. Junior dos Santos (Hvy.)
Imagine making your UFC debut in a foreign country against a heavyweight black belt that is widely considered the next title challenger. Imagine seeing your name in lights in the casino sportsbook…then seeing you’re a heavy underdog. Now imagine scoring one of the surprise upset KO’s of the year. Fabricio Werdum is trying to forget the night that Junior dos Santos made his UFC debut. While there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered, dos Santos’ bout at UFC 95 against a relative unknown Stevan Strufe will prove whether he is a one-hit wonder or a true contender.