Our UFC preview for this weekend's action-packed double-header
UFC fans can look forward to a double-helping of high-octane MMA action this weekend. Although there is no longer any Irish interest in either card, there are some absolute barn burners lined up that should adequately fill that large UFC-shaped void that's been in our lives for the last three weeks.
UFC Fight Night 55
The UFC heads down under to Sydney in the earlky hours of Saturday morning for the grudge match between outspoken middleweights Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping.
In a division with a dearth of contenders, Rockhold has found himself on the cusp of a title shot after just three fights in the UFC (sounds familiar). The former Strikeforce champion is an exciting veteran of the sport who possesses knockout power and a strong jiu-jitsu game on the mat. He holds wins over the likes of Ronald Jacare Souza, Tim Boetsch and Tim Kennedy, who ground out a convincing decision victory over Bisping earlier this year.
Bisping is a vastly experienced striker and comes into this bout after pulverising Cung Le in Macau. Bisping is often criticised for choking in big fights but has defeated some big names in the UFC including Chris Leben and Brian Stann.
Expect this fight to stay standing with Rockhold trying to utilise his superior kicks and Bisping working his punches. Rockhold is the favourite to take the victory but with passions running high due to the back-and-forth trash-talking from both fighters, don't be surprised if there's a shock on the cards.
— Fightnomics Reed (@Fightnomics) July 24, 2014
Also on the card, British lightweight Ross Pearson looks to build on his impressive form with a win over fellow TUF alum Al Iaquinta, while Clint Hester will look to remain undefeated in the UFC after facing hometown hero Robert Whittaker. Unfortunately for Irish fans, Neil Seery has withdrawn from his bout with Aussie Richard Vaculik due to a broken rib. He has been replaced by American flyweight Louis Smolka.
UFC Fight Night 56
Much, much later on Saturday, and into Sunday, MMA legend Mauricio Shogun Rua takes on number 10 ranked light heavyweight Ovince St Preux in the main event at Fight Night 56 in Brazil. Shogun comes into this bout off the back of a devastating KO defeat by Dan Henderson in March. It marked the Brazilian's fifth loss in eight fights and another defeat could herald the 32-year-old's retirement.
St Preux comes in following a unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader in August. Before that, the American wrestler was riding a five-fight win streak. He will be out to prove a point in Brazil.
OSP might have the slight edge over Shogun on the feet but he will be fighting in front of a hostile Brazilian crowd. Who knows how he will react to the atmosphere inside the lion's den?
The other main draw on the Brazil card is a flyweight bout between Ian McCall and power striker John Lineker. Uncle Creepy is fresh off his superb victory over Brad Pickett in Dublin while Lineker is coming in off a stunning TKO win over Alptekin Ozkilic. With number one contender John Dodson out for an extended period and belt holder Demetrious Johnson running through everyone in the division, the winner of this could get a shot at Mighty Mouse's belt.
Speedster McCall will be the favourite for this one but will have to deal with playing the role of the villain in front of Lineker's home crowd.