UFC 127 Fight Card Preview: SB Nation Breaks Down The Main Card

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UFC 127 Fight Card Preview: BJ Penn Vs Jon Fitch

BJ Penn vs. Jon Fitch

B.J. Penn was never really beat up at 155lbs, but there were a few times when he clearly became frustrated fighting in the welterweight division. Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes have each been able to give Penn trouble over the years, and if anyone can replicate that kind of top-game control it's Jon Fitch.

Hughes forced Penn to fight off his back at UFC 63, eventually taking the fight by technical knockout after Penn suffered a rub injury. At UFC 94, St. Pierre carried a similar gameplan into the cage and Penn was once again bullied by a much bigger, prominent wrestler. Viewers could clearly see the frustration on Penn's face during both fights, leading many to believe that the former champ could be forced to mentally check out if put under enough duress.

I can only assume Jon Fitch is planning to try something similar. He certainly has the style to carry it out. If Fitch can hold someone like Thiago Alves down for three rounds, I don't see why he can't do the same to a much smaller fighter like Penn. BJ's takedown defense is on another level entirely, but I see Fitch using constant pressure in the clinch until he eventually gets the fight down where he wants.

Fitch hasn't dropped a fight since 2008, going 5-0 since his title shot with GSP. He dominates fighters for three rounds, using his superior wrestling to overpower his opponents and drag fights into decisions.That's exactly how I see this fight going.

My Pick: Fitch

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UFC 127 Fight Card Preview: Michael Bisping Vs Jorge Rivera

Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera

Thank God someone decided to promote this card. I didn't think it would be Jorge Rivera, but I'll take it. His series of hype videos are putting progressives like Chael Sonnen to shame and Bisping is certainly doing his part to make us believe this fight has become personal. I don't really think Bisping cares about a few videos, but he's playing along nicely. Their stare down at yesterday's weigh-ins was epic. An 'A' for effort all around.

As the actual fight goes? I think it is tailor made for Michael Bisping to be successful. His opponent likes to keep it standing and isn't an elite grappler. If Bisping can stay on the outside and force Rivera to box with him he should be able to pick him apart. Even though he dropped his fight with Wanderlei Silva, the Brit hasn't looked bad since being brutally knocked out by Dan Henderson at UFC 100. His fight with Dan Miller looked like a one sided sparring session and he looked pretty impressive in his last fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama.

I just have a bad feeling about Rivera. He's nearing 40 years of age, hasn't fought in 11 months and isn't close to the same kind of athlete as Bisping. I want to believe, but I don't. Other than the slim chance of landing flush with a strong overhand right, I'm not sure where Rivera has a competitive advantage in this fight.

My Pick: Bisping

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UFC 127 Fight Card Preview: George Sotiropoulos Vs Dennis Siver

George Sotiropoulos vs. Dennis Siver

If George Sotiropoulos can come out of tonight's fight with an impressive victory over Dennis Siver I see no reason why he shouldn't be discussed in the title picture. The lightweight division is influx right now with both BJ Penn and Diego Sanchez moving to welterweight and Kenny Florian dropping to 145lbs. These shifts give Sotiropoulos a great chance to move up in a less-crowded division. More guys have recently joined due to the WEC merger, but I wouldn't put many ahead of Sots on the depth chart.

Siver is going to have a tough time tonight if he can't keep this fight standing. The man is an elite striker, but may be one of the least well-rounded fighters in the UFC's lightweight division. His recent submission win over Andrew Winner doesn't really make me think he could hang on the ground with someone like Sotiropoulos. Siver should be looking to land his famous spinning back kick, but he may hesitate out of fear of being taken down. Sotiropoulos also employs a boxing style that is hard to load up on. He keeps his hands up well and doesn't get too sloppy during exchanges.

Sotiropoulos has stream-rolled some of the divisions best grapplers in three straight fights. It will be interesting to see how he approaches someone like Siver, but I'm betting Sotiropoulos tries to get this fight to the mat right from the get go. I think he'll succeed and end it there.

My Pick: Sotiropoulos

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UFC 127 Fight Card Preview: Chris Lytle Vs Brian Ebersole

Chris Lytle vs. Brian Ebersole

Chris Lytle was reportedly 'devastated' when he heard the news that Carlos Condit had pulled out of their fight on short notice due to injury. Despite less than ideal circumstance, Lytle has acted like a professional. This is a no-win situation for him. He's expected to demolish Ebersole with ease — which he might — but a loss here to a relative unknown would be tragic. While Ebersole may not be as well known to some fans, the man has over 60 fights, winning 46 of them. He's also never been knocked out or TKO'd. If Lytle were to drop a fight here it would almost certainly ruin any chance at making one last run at the welterweight title. At 36 years old, Lytle has time working against him.

That being said, I see no reason why Chris Lytle shouldn't win this fight. Ebersole has beaten some notable opponents like Matt Horwich and Carlos Newton in the past, but other than that his wins haven't been over world beaters. Ebersole took this fight on short notice and fought less than a month ago. He was likely only added to this card due to his locality. Ebersole has been fighting predominantly in Australia since 2006.

My Pick: Lytle

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UFC 127 Fight Card Preview: Kyle Noke Vs Chris Camozzi

Kyle Noke vs. Chris Camozzi

Kyle Noke should be able to dictate the pace of this fight. He has an advantage over Chris Camozzi anywhere this fight ends up. Camozzi has shown some toughness in the brief time he's spent fighting under the UFC banner, but back-to-back decisions over less than stellar competition are making Noke the popular pick.

Noke hasn't lost a fight since 2008 — winning four straight — and has already demonstrated how well-rounded he is inside the octagon. He even has wins over two other guys fighting on this card in George Sotiropoulos and Brian Ebersole. Camozzi might surprise us, but I think the safe bet is on Noke.

My Pick: Noke

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UFC 127 Fight Card Preview: SB Nation Breaks Down The Main Card

The UFC makes its second trip to Australia tonight with UFC 127 from Sydney's Acer Arena. The card doesn't feature a championship fight, but title implications are on the line in the night's main event. Dana White has said that the winner of a matchup between BJ Penn and Jon Fitch will earn the rank of No. 1 contender to Georges St. Pierre's welterweight crown.

The card isn't stacked with notable names, but there are plenty of great fights to be had. Depending on which fighters really bring it tonight, there should be no shortage of high-charged action. Jorge Rivera has done everything and anything to rile up interest in a fight with Michael Bisping, and a slug fest between Spencer Fisher and Ross Pearson is enough to get my attention. Also, how George Sotiropoulos approaches a very dangerous striker in Dennis Siver will say a lot about him. A win tonight for the Aussie would make it eight straight wins in the UFC.

Stay tuned to SB Nation MMA throughout today and tonight as we bring you previews, live results and commentary.

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