UFC juggernaut careers into Nottingham
UK fight fans have been buoyed this week by news that the UFC has pencilled in their first UK show of 2012. In this latest column we take a look at who could steal the limelight as our fighters get a chance to shine on the world stage. We also welcome one famous name into the organisations Hall of Fame and ask why one UFC fan favourite is considering retirement… from life.
Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena will be the venue for the city’s first ever UFC event this September. A long time hotbed of mixed martial arts the East Midlands has been on the organisation’s expansion radar for some time. In terms of profile it will possibly be of similar stature to the eclectic card which wowed the ravenous crowd in Sweden a couple of months ago. Given the number of Brits in attendance in Stockholm that night, the 8,000 seat arena will be thronged to capacity come September 29th. But just who will feature in possibly the UFC’s only UK show this year? Conjecture will be frenzied in the coming weeks and today we take a look at some possibilities…
With his stirring first round knockout of “Bang” Ludwig snapping a four fight skid Dan Hardy would seem to be a certainty to fight in his hometown. The fact that he doesn’t currently have a fight booked allied to the agreeable four month turnaround time adds to the possibility of one of the country’s most popular fighters lacing ‘em up for British fans this Autumn. Normally a 1-4 record in their past five outings wouldn’t warrant a fighter main event billing but “The Outlaw” is not an ordinary fighter in any sense of the word. In Manchester against Mike Swick at UFC 105 the crowd were in a frenzy for a fighter who simply brings it each time he fights, not least when on English soil. My prediction is for Hardy to lock horns with either Amir Sadollah or Erick Silva. Both are coming off recent wins, both are strikers and Hardy with that lethal left hook is more than capable of catching either man.
Brad Pickett has already been confirmed as fighting on the bill against the under rated Yves Jabouin. This is no “gimme” fight for Pickett and a win would put him within touching distance of a title shot as his Canadian opponent is highly respected within the Zuffa corridors of power.
North-East lad Andy Ogle is the second UK fighter confirmed for the card. Ogle will share the Octagon with Swedish brawler Akira Corassani. The likeable Ogle has garnered alot of fans through his appearances on TUF Live and will finally get to make his full UFC debut following thirteen long weeks in the claustrophobic Ultimate Fighter house. Other fighters who may well feature include talented up and comers John Maguire and Liverpool’s Paul Sass.
One fighter not currently in the Las Vegas based promotions ranks who may get the call to compete in the as yet unnamed event is surging Irish featherweight Conor McGregor. McGregor has recently acquired the Cage Warriors 145lb title and is riding a solid seven fight win streak. Subject to any contractual obligations “Notorious” could become a welcome addition to one of the organisations most exciting divisions.
Ortiz joins elite club
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz will be welcomed into the UFC Hall of Fame next month. The man who began his fighting life as a sparring partner for none other than “Tank” Abbott will be joining such impressive names as Dan Severn and Royce Gracie. Ortiz is a worthwhile entry and whether you loved him or hated him you just couldn’t ignore the media savvy former light heavyweight champ.
Forrest to retire?
Ortiz’ retirement bout is of course a rubber match with fellow veteran Forrest Griffin. Some bouts are “must see” in terms of title implications, others are simply fun fights involving fan favourites and this one certainly falls into the latter category. Whilst both are former 205lb title holders and a tough out for anyone they are well outside of the top tier at this stage in their respective careers. The desire to see these seasoned warriors compete does endure for the majority of fans. Ortiz has already announced his decision to call time on a glittering career and Griffin spoke to ufc.com this week about his own possible retirement;
“I was fighting for $300 or $400 when Tito was champion of the world. He’s not what he used to be, but he’s still putting on good fights with the best guys in the world… A lot of people ask me. They say, ‘Forrest, it’s Tito’s retirement fight. If you lose to Tito, are you going to retire?’ If I lose to Tito, I’m going to retire from life. …seriously.”
Given Griffin’s penchant for tongue in cheek quotes it’s difficult to know if retirement would follow defeat to Ortiz but a poor showing against the clearly past his best 37 year old certainly could force Griffin to draw the curtain on his own eventful career.
Click here to check out my new “In the Octagon” column in Japan’s The Asahi Shimbun where I take a look at Junior Dos Santos’ rise to the pinnacle of mixed martial arts…
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