If one was viewing the UFC 168 card for the first time, the main and co-main events would of course raise eye brows. Further down the list is an almost equally interesting set of matchups than the middle weight championship with Anderson Silva as the contender for once against the man who took his belt in Chris Weidman, and the first defense of a UFC belt by a women in Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate.
Travis Browne vs Josh Barnett
Before the last two fights on the card, Travis Browne (5) and Josh Barnett (6) will step inside the cage to establish who will be the newest contender to step in line for a title fight. With JDS just losing to Velasquez, it looks like Fabricio Werdum is the talk of the town as the next man to challenge for the belt.
Browne and Barnett have both picked up steam of late among the heavyweights, and with both of them being respectably ranked, I can’t imagine one won’t enter the title picture with a win over the other. Both are on a two fight win streak. Browne is riding off of two very impressive KO’s in the UFC against Gabriel Gonzaga and Alistair Overeem, while Barnett absolutely starched Frank Mir in the first round at UFC 164.
It’s difficult to think Barnett will be able to have an answer for Browne in the cage. Sure anything can happen in MMA, especially in the heavyweight division, but Barnett has been around a long time and frankly a win over another elite heavyweight on the down turn of his career in Mir doesn’t mean he’s capable of fighting a young contender who’s been fighting and beating elite competition in his weight class for some time now.
Gleison Tibau vs Michael Johnson
Gleison Tibau has been a legitimate contender in arguable the most dangerous division in combat sports, in the UFC lightweight division. Coming up on his 19th appearance in the UFC, he’s going to go out there and do what he does best, and that’s provide a dangerous threat to anyone who steps in to the cage across from him.
The man set to the task is TUF finalist challenger in Michael Johnson. A man who’s been putting his time in at the highest level of the sport himself, Johnson has had a hit or miss career for a while now. Riding a dominant decision win over Joe Lauzon at UFN 26, Johnson is one of those fighters that appears to have the skill to break in to the title hunt at lightweight, but must put a few big names under his belt before he can start entering the picture.
Uriah Hall vs Chris Leben
Now these two are one fight away from being cut. Both are at opposite ends of their careers, so logically UFC newcomer in Uriah Hall has more to lose. Chris Leben has fought everyone from Anderson Silva, to Brian Stann, and Wanderlei Silva, and has nothing left to prove.
Even though he’s had his fair share of issues over the years, being one of the original TUF members at a young age, he’s known for having grown up in front of our eyes since joining the sport.
It will be sad to see him go but on the other hand, he owns his own his gym in Hawaii and probably will enjoy the next stage in his career if he doesn’t secure a ‘W’ at UFC 168, which would leave him at one win in his last six appearances inside the Octagon.
Uriah Hall on the other hand, started his career with the most hype than arguably any other TUF alumni before him. His KO’s in the TUF house will very well be viewed more than the entire show put together over time. Unfortunately since the show, he’s failed to meet expectations by losing decisions at the TUF Finale to underdog Kelvin Gastelum and then John Howard at UFN 26.
Fortunately for Hall, Leben looks old in the cage these days. He simply winds up being out hustled by younger, fresher opponents. With Hall’s obvious superior athleticism, it’s hard to see him walking out of the cage with anything less than a unanimous decision victory, even if he decides to jab his way to the finish line.
Dustin Poirier vs Diego Brandao
This one could very well steal the fight of the night honors. Both men are ‘go out on your sword’ types of fighters. Both competitors finish most of their fights, and neither allows their opponent to get comfortable in the cage for long.
This is a big opportunity for Diego Brandao who looked like an absolute destroyer on TUF and will have an opportunity to get a win over the #6th ranked featherweight fighter in the world against Dustin Poirier. On the other hand, Poirier is a tall order to fill for anyone in the featherweight division, much less someone who has yet to get ranked inside the top ten of the division.
The pace both of these fighters are capable of setting will most likely leave fans wishing there were at least two more rounds of action left, when it’s all said and done. Fortunately neither fighter seems content to engage in a simple points battle up to this point in their careers.
These two will scrap and if it goes to the ground, both will aggressively look to finish it there. This might feel like an over simplified fight breakdown, but rest assured, it’s only simple in the way two predators settle disputes over territory.
Dennis Siver vs Manny Gamburyan
Both of these men have flirted with greatness in recent years. Ironically it was when both decided to drop down to featherweight. Manny Gamburyan experienced a lack luster run in the lightweight division where he won a few, but ultimately dropped losses to anyone of note including Nate Diaz in the TUF 5 Finale.
When he dropped down to featherweight after losing to Thiago Tavares at UFC 94, he rolled through John Franchi, Leonard Garcia, and KO’d Mike Brown in one round. That set him up for a highly touted title fight against Jose Aldo at WEC 51. Unfortunately he was KO’d in the second, but has lately won two fights in a row at featherweight in the UFC.
If he can add on to his last performance (a decision win over Cole Miller), by beating another known name at featherweight in Siver, things could start looking up for the former #1 contender in the featherweight division once again.
Siver on the other hand has been wrecking opponents consistently with a smattering of losses among a career of absolute dominance. In a fight with serious title implications on the line against Cub Swanson back in July at UFC 162, he will need to wipe the stain of that loss off his record and do what he usually does, which is bounce back with a decisive win against a game opponent.
Both fighters are brutal little balls of muscle and speed, so this one will also be very entertaining, regardless of the outcome, or where the fight is taken.
Other fights on the card are interesting as well of course and are listed below.
Jim Miller vs Fabricio Camoes
William Macario vs Bobby Voelker
Guto Inocente vs Shane Del Rosario
John Howard vs Siyar Bahadurzada