With tomorrow night marking the first time the UFC invades Atlanta, GA, that means it’s time for The Sports Brief to predict the outcomes of each fight. Keefe is busy preparing for his show today, so he was only able to bless us with outcomes. But I’ve included a brief analysis on how I think each fight will play out.

At UFC 87, I went 8-2 with my picks while Rich came in at 6-4. With a lot of close, interesting match-ups on tap for UFC 88, however, those early standings could change quickly. I can’t wait to find out…

Main Event

Chuck Liddell v. Rashad Evans

This is a striker v. wrestler matchup, and Liddell has always had tremendous success in fights like these. Evans is a very accomplished wrestler with an undefeated record, and while he showed some good skills in the 3rd round of his fight against Tito Ortiz, it was a 1-point deduction to Ortiz that kept his unblemished record in tact.

Bottom line is that Liddell’s sprawl is one of the best in the business. Even when Ortiz got him down in their entertaining rematch, he popped right back up onto his feet. Expect to see plenty of that tomorrow night. And when Liddell isn’t sprawling, he’ll be popping Evans in the face numerous times before forcing a referee stoppage towards the end of the second round.

Chuck Liddell wins via (T)KO in the 2nd round

Keefe says: Chuck Liddell def. Rashad Evans via (T)KO in 2nd

Televised Bouts

Rich Franklin v. Matt Hamill

An interesting clash here at 205, mainly because Franklin returns to a division he once left due to being too small and at a disadvantage in terms of strength. At middleweight, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone more physically gifted than Franklin. But at light heavy, and against Hamill, he’ll face a significant size and strength advantage. Which plays right into Hamill’s game. He likes to come forward and maul his opponents, and he’s a highly skilled wrestler with crafty takedowns. Hamill is ever improving, but the one downside is his striking. It’s powerful, but sloppy.

I actually see this playing out much like his fight against a current middleweight fighter who recently left the 205-lb. division in Michael Bisping. This will be a grinding three round fight that sees flashes of brilliance and moments for both fighters. But in the end, I think Franklin’s experience, his polished striking and his savvy ground defense will earn him the checkmark on all three scorecards. Look for Hamill to once again impress, though, and earn himself another big fight down the road. Something tells me he’ll be headlining a UFC Fight Night against Stephan Bonnar once “The American Psycho” recovers from his knee injury. You’ll remember these two were originally scheduled to be the co-main event to Florian and Lauzon back in April.

Rich Franklin wins via unanimous decision

Keefe says: Rich Franklin def. Matt Hamill via decision

Dan Henderson v. Rousimar Palhares

Henderson swears he can beat Anderson Silva if given another crack at him. And you know what? I believe him. But he’s got a serious submission artist staring him in the face on Saturday night. Did you see Palhares’ submission win over Ivan Salaverry at UFC 84? Ridiculous transition into an armbar, and it earned him submission of the night. What’s interesting is that Henderson’s revered wrestling background may get him into trouble here. If this goes to the ground for a long period of time, I have no doubt that Palhares could seize a limb and break it. And three of Henderson’s seven losses have come by submission (one to each Nogueira brother). But I think Henderson keeps this on the feet and slugs away, scores a takedown or two, grounds and pounds briefly and then retreats to his feet. Palhares may put a scare into him at some point, but I think this will be a great step back for “Dangerous.” Or is it “Hollywood”? Whatever.

Dan Henderson wins via (T)KO in the 2nd round

Keefe says: Dan Henderson def. Rousimar Palhares via (T)KO in the 1st

Karo Parisyan v. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

I’m calling it now. This will be the most exciting fight of the night. Parisyan claims to be motivated and says he actually trained for this fight. Can you imagine if there’s any truth to him saying he never really trained for fights up until now? Wow. That could have serious implications moving forward for the Armenian. But Yoshida is on a nine fight win streak, including that amazing submission over “War Machine” at UFC 84 that was just painful to watch. I honestly felt bad for Koppenhaver. Although not as bad as I did for Ed Herman when he got choked out and pounded out by Demian Maia at the same time.

Anyway, Parisyan has never been submitted and has been (T)KO’d only twice in his career. Once in his last fight against Alves – which had a questionable stoppage – and earlier in his career against Sean Sherk. His fight against Diego Sanchez showed how tough and durable his chin is, and I think it will prevail here.

Karo Parisyan wins via unanimous decision

Keefe says: Karo Parisyan def. Yoshiyuki Yoshida via decision

Martin Kampmann v. Nate Marquardt This card is loaded with toss ups, and here is another one. Kampmann, coming off a knee injury, looked solid in his submission win over Jorge Rivera. It was a good test for his health and an opportunity to knock off ring rust. But now he takes on Marquardt, who is as tough as they come in the UFC’s middleweight division. A pair of point deductions against Thales Leites cost him a win in his last fight, but it’s obvious as to who dominated that fight.

In this one, I think Kampmann’s ability to utilize his kickboxing will be the factor. I think he’ll try and break down Marquardt early with leg kicks and brief combinations on his feet. Eventually Marquardt will go for a takedown, and I think that’s where people underestimate Kampmann’s submission game.

Martin Kampmann wins via submission (rear-naked choke) in the 3rd round

Keefe says: Nate Marquardt def. Martin Kampann via submission in the 1st

Preliminary bouts

Besse: Thiago Tavares wins via submission (triangle choke) in the 3rd round

Keefe: Kurt Pellegrino def. Thiago Tavares via submission in the 2nd

Besse: Tim Boetsch wins via unanimous decision

Keefe: Tim Boetsch def. Mike Patt via (T)KO in the 1st

Besse: Dong Hyun Kim wins via KTFO in the 1st round

Keefe: Dong Hyun Kim def. Matt Brown via (T)KO in the 3rd

Besse: Jason McDonald wins via any submission he pleases in the 1st round

Keefe: Jason McDonald def. Jason Lambert via submission in the 2nd

Besse: Roan Carneiro wins via unanimous decision

Keefe: Ryo Chonan def. Roan Carneiro via decision

Let us know your thoughts on tomorrow’s action. If you like what you see, check out more from The Sports Brief at

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