UFC 79 will take place this Saturday from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and on Pay-Per-View. The UFC sure did not catch a break in scheduling this event since they will have to compete with the New England Patriots vs. the New York Giants on three different TV networks. Regardless, this looks to be a pretty entertaining card on paper. There are two fights worthy of main event status, and on the undercard, two highly regarded newcomers make their UFC debuts. The following is a preview of these four fights:
MATT HUGHES VS. GEORGES ST. PIERRE You can call current welterweight champion Matt Serra a lot of things, but "fighting champion" sure is not one of them. Serra won the belt in early April and has not defended it since. He was scheduled to defend against Hughes at this event, but an injury forced him to withdraw and opened the door for Georges St. Pierre to take his place. Since the current champ has not defended the title in nearly nine months, the UFC is billing this event as being for the "interim" championship with the winner to eventually fight Serra for the title.
It is really hard to get a read on Hughes, since he has only fought once since losing to GSP over a year ago - a unanimous decision over Chris Lytle in March. St. Pierre, meanwhile, turned in an extremely impressive performance at UFC 74, as he dominated Josh Koscheck and outwrestled arguably the best amateur wrestler in the sport in the process. St. Pierre blamed his poor showing against Serra to some personal issues, and based on his performance against Koscheck, I will take his word for it.
This is a match-up between a one-dimensional fighter in Hughes and one of the best rounded competitors in the sport in St. Pierre. Throw in the fact that GSP is eight years younger and I am of the opinion that he will be the winner here. There is some concern about his short training time after stepping in as Serra's replacement, but the guy is always in top-notch shape. If and when Serra decides to defend his welterweight title, look for Georges St. Pierre to be on the other side of the octagon.
WANDERLEI SILVA VS. CHUCK LIDDELL A few years ago, this would have been the most anxiously awaited match-up in the sport. Now, however, it is a fight between two guys clearly on the downside of their careers. Both Silva and Liddell are coming off of back-to-back losses. Silva lost to Dan Henderson by TKO this past February and before that, was destroyed by Mirko Cro Cop in the semifinals of the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix last September. While the Cro Cop loss looked more devastating, it's important to keep in mind that Silva was fighting a natural heavyweight. The Henderson loss was more significant in my estimation - Silva looked listless and tentative, which is the antithesis of how he has fought for his entire career.
Liddell was last seen being dominated by Keith Jardine in a match-up in which he all of a sudden looked old and slow. Before that, he dropped the first round KO verdict to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and lost his light heavyweight title in the process (it is worth noting that Silva has two KO victories over "Rampage"). UFC President Dana White has gone on record as saying that "the old Liddell is back", but since White often makes Don King look objective by comparison, that does not mean much.
At one point, this fight would have been... (Read the full article here: UFC 79 Preview)