The UFC returns to the United Kingdom this weekend when it presents UFC 138 in Birmingham this Saturday. The event is scheduled to air for free in the United States on a tape delay broadcast on cable channel SPIKETV. In general, the UFC has been criticized for the depth of this card, which is considered weak. Now there is talk that the UFC is concerned about doing PPV’s on tape delay, so has reserved weaker, free tv cards for the UK. I read an article by Steve Maracco at MMAJUNKIE that said only 3 titles have been disputed in the 9 events the UFC has produced in the UK.
But let’s have a closer look at this UFC 138.
One fight that has the potential to be really explosive is the bout scheduled between Brit Brad Pickett and Brazilian Renan ‘Barao’.
Pickett is really the only Brit on the main card, and for this bout the UFC has matched him pretty tough. Pickett is a solid veteran, a high paced brawler with a decent Jiu Jitsu game. He reminds me a little bit of Clay Guida in terms of energy and pace, though his wrestling isn’t Clay’s. His opponent, Renan ‘Barao’ started fighting in 2005, and dropped his first match. Since then he has reeled of 26 wins in a row, including a 3 fight win streak in the WEC.
This has ‘Fight of the Night’ potential, but I’m leaning towards taking ‘Barao’ in this one. First fight in the UFC may lead to butterflies, of course, however it has been a long time coming for the Brazilian, and he has proven he has that ‘winner’ intangible. Will it carry over into the UFC? Pickett has all the tools to pull off a win as well, but may wear out quicker, and may have more ring miles than Renan, despite a similar number fo fights.
Most of the criticism around the card really is a shot at Cris Leben, centering on the thought he is not a main event fighter. Munoz too, is talking a jump up to the big time, but this is really more about Leben.
And I can see the criticism to a certain extent. He was eliminated in season 1 of the TUF reality show, and came back into the series only to lose again. To get him a win in the finale event, they gave him Jason Thacker, had hadn’t fought before and hasn’t fought since.
Leben has had his ups and downs in his UFC career. He was mauled by Anderson Silva, he mauled Vanderlei Silva. He has been loved and hated. He has come in unfocused and ultra motivated. But I think his name recognition is up there with most of the UFC’s stars, and that this fight with Munoz can be a heck of a fight.
For his part, Munoz gets to work into his first UFC main event against a guy who is rugged and tough, but is likely not in anyone’s top 5 in the division. In other words, Munoz has to feel he can pull off a win.
However in this one, I’m going to go with Leben. I think Leben is mature enough in his career at this point to turn the negativity into motivation. A motivated Leben means an exciting fight.
So it is OK if you aren’t expecting much! the UFC is giving the fight to us for free, and that is when the potential for some real explosive action exists. Let’s see what we get!