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Fantasy Preview - UFC 90

Stephen Quinn, UFC - UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva defends his crown against Patrick Cote this Saturday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, and the Canadian is thinking upset. This may also be your chance to make a move to the top in your UFC Fantasy Game league. But to get there, you’ve got to read on for the UFC 90 fantasy breakdown.
By Stephen Quinn

UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva defends his crown against Patrick Cote this Saturday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, and the Canadian is thinking upset. This may also be your chance to make a move to the top in your UFC Fantasy Game league. But to get there, you’ve got to read on for the UFC 90 fantasy breakdown.

RICH CLEMENTI VS. GRAY MAYNARD

It will be interesting to see where this fight ends up. Not known as a striker, Maynard surprised a lot of people by holding his own in that realm against Frankie Edgar, dealing the talented boxer-wrestler his first loss. Clementi is more well-rounded than Edgar, dangerous with submissions and solid in his stand-up. While Clementi entered his last fight against Britain’s Terry Etim wanting to keep the fight on the mat, he will likely either want to test Maynard standing or see if he can manage a takedown himself to see how Maynard fights from his back.

Clementi seems to be comfortable regardless where the fight goes, and he is mentally tough, riding a six-match winning streak. Both men feel they match up well against the other and being showcased on the pay-per-view main card will give each fighter an opportunity to shine in the spotlight.

A product of season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter, Maynard wants to make it four straight victories inside of the Octagon. At this point in his career, Maynard is truly at a crossroads. This is his chance to either show that he’s a force in the division, and possibly even a future champion. With 53 fights as a professional, there isn't much that Rich Clementi hasn't seen in a fight. Seeking his 41st win this Saturday, Clementi wants to show people that he can compete with anyone in the lightweight division, and beating Maynard would definitely raise some eyebrows and serve notice that he is a serious title contender.

Likely to go the distance? Yes
Method of Finish? Decision


THIAGO ALVES VS. JOSH KOSCHECK

Regardless of the outcome of this fight, both fighters -- especially Koscheck -- should be commended for accepting this fight on just two weeks notice. Koscheck was training for a fight against Yoshiyuki Yoshida in December (one he still hopes to take), while Alves had created a game plan for his original opponent, Diego Sanchez. Many considered the Sanchez-Alves matchup to be the crown jewel of the UFC 90 card, but the replacement bout is equally enticing.

For Koscheck, who is always in the gym to either train for his own fight or to help his teammates prepare, the abbreviated training camp fight shouldn’t be a factor. With an impressive 9-2 record inside of the Octagon, Koscheck knows that he is in the driver's seat to eventually arrive at a shot for gold in the UFC. It is rare that you see a fighter step up on short notice and take such a big risk when they are potentially one or two wins away from fighting the champion. Kudos to Kos. One thing to consider: Kosheck's training partner, Jon Fitch, owns a win over Alves, so expect him to help shape Koscheck's strategy for this fight. It will also be interesting to see how Koscheck's excellent takedowns play out against Alves' devastating knees. Alves fires knees from everywhere -- from the clinch, flying through the air, or while timing his foes’ takedowns. Koscheck, meanwhile, is known to have incredible timing on his shots and rarely takes a "bad" shot, meaning no one has been able to catch him on the way in with a big knee.

We last saw Alves back at UFC 85, when he dismantled Matt Hughes, who quite possibly will go down as the greatest 170-pound champion in UFC history. Having not lost since June of 2006, Alves knows that by winning his seventh straight fight, he will be in serious contention for a shot at the champion in the welterweight division, Georges St-Pierre.

When the Octagon gate closes on Saturday night, we are all in for a real treat. Both of these fighters are extremely powerful, athletic, and quick – so expect to see constant action from bell to bell. For Koscheck, although he has continued to show an improvement in his standup ability, don’t expect the collegiate standout wrestler to try and stay on his feet for very long. Ground and pound seems his best blueprint for victory (witness the bashing he put on Chris Lytle in his last fight), but Koscheck's right hand is very legit and just ask Dustin Hazelett about his high kicks. In the end, Koscheck may have to get Alves' respect early with his hands and legs in order to set up the takedown. And even if he should take Alves down, there is no guarantee of a huge advantage. As Alves showed against Hughes, he is difficult to take down and adept at rising quickly to his feet, a la Chuck Liddell.

Likely to go the distance? No
Method of Finish? TKO

SEAN SHERK VS. TYSON GRIFFIN

Both fighters are known to be extremely strong, and this could well prove to be the first time either 155-pounder has faced someone who can actually equal his strength. Former UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk is looking to get his belt back, and to say that Sherk is the more experienced fighter would be an understatement. With an impressive record of 36-3-1, his only losses have come to Matt Hughes (former champ), Georges St-Pierre (current champ), and BJ Penn (current champ). If you have to have losses on your record, those are names that definitely will not tarnish you in the eyes of fans.

In Griffin, many see the makings of a great fighter. He has won 12 of 13 fights, with his only loss coming to Frankie Edgar in his second fight inside of the Octagon. Since then, Griffin has strung together notable wins over Thiago Tavares, Marcus Aurelio, and Clay Guida. If Griffin wants to bring his career to the next level, a win on Saturday will go a long way in doing so.

These short and stocky fighters have similar fighting styles, even though Sherk is perceived to be the better wrestler due to his more explosive double leg takedowns. Sherk is adept at taking opponents down, suffocating them on top and then punishing them with elbows. Yet Griffin could be very hard to hold down since he is an expert scrambler and, when he is standing, his arsenal has included a lot more kicks than Sherk's. Griffin's kickboxing skills have improved by leaps and bounds, but Sherk -- who is used to fighting five round title fights -- believes his exceptional cardio will prove the difference in this one.

Likely to go the distance? No
Method of Finish? TKO

FABRICIO WERDUM VS. JUNIOR DOS SANTOS

This is a very dangerous fight for Werdum in the sense that he really has little to gain and everything to lose. Werdum, a former jiu-jitsu world champ, is an extremely good fighter that the casual UFC fan may not know a lot about. The soft-spoken Brazilian is known for his outstanding ground game and has fought and beaten some of the best in the world. With recent wins over Brandon Vera and Gabriel Gonzaga, Werdum (11-3) is only a step away from that coveted belt. With a win on Saturday, we may see Werdum back in action to fight for the title in 2009. To win he must not be overly cautious as he was during his last loss in the Octagon, to Andrei Arlovski.

Werdum has had been involved in high profile fights in his career, yet this will be the first major test for Junior Dos Santos, a hard-hitting Brazilian who trains with Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira and Anderson Silva. If there’s one fighter that will benefit the most from fighting on pay-per-view, it’s Junior Dos Santos. Dos Santos is a solid fighter with a promising career in the UFC. But to win he will likely need to neutralize Werdum on the ground and exploit him standing. That will be quite difficult, however, since Werdum is a former training partner of Mirko Cro Cop (back when Cro Cop was an aggressive knockout artist) and has never been knocked out or submitted.

Likely to go the distance? No
Method of Finish? Submission


ANDERSON SILVA VS. PATRICK COTE

I know what you're probably thinking: This is a lopsided affair and certain victory for Silva. Chalk another one up for the champ. Not so fast. With the strength and punching power that Cote possesses, this contest may prove more intriguing than most imagine.
It's easy to see why so many people are dismissing Cote in this fight, even though he has won five straight, seven of his last eight and is portraying the same kind of confidence Matt Serra did before his shock-the-world win over Georges St. Pierre.

The challenge before Cote (13-4) is equally formidable to the one Serra faced. If you had to describe Silva's fighting style in one word, "destructive" seems most appropriate. The evidence is indisputable. Silva is 7-0 in the Octagon and, amazingly, has needed only 16 minutes and 29 seconds to steamroll his opponents. Cote must try to do what Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson and James Irvin could not. After annihilating Irvin at light heavyweight, Silva (22-4) now returns to his championship weight to face a hard-hitting contender, who plans to turn the tables on Silva.

Cote, a 29-year-old Canadian, has truly had his share of ups and downs in the UFC. It’s rare that you see a fighter start his UFC career by losing his first four bouts yet eventually climbing all the way back to fight for UFC gold. In his first fight for the UFC, Cote stepped up on late notice to fight Tito Ortiz. To the surprise of most, Cote took Ortiz to a decision. At that time, Ortiz was widely regarded as one of the best fighters in the UFC – not just the light heavyweight division. Because of his performance that night -- albeit a losing one -- many people believed that Cote was going to be a force in the UFC. Although those people are right today, it took a lot longer than many expected. After his fight on short notice with Ortiz, Cote went on to lose his next two fights before becoming a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 4. After having success during the season, Cote yet again lost a fight – this time losing in the finale to Travis Lutter. At a crossroads, Cote buckled down and hasn’t lost a fight since, stringing together wins over Scott Smith, Kendall Grove, Drew McFedries, and most recently, highly-regarded Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Ricardo Almeida.

Like Silva, Cote is at his best on his feet and is usually only one punch away from sending his opponent crashing to the canvas. For Cote to do his best work, he will need to close the distance on the lengthy Silva, who is a master at keeping his foes at bay and punishing them. For Cote to close the distance, he may need to survive a flurry of punches and try to clinch with the champ. The X factor in the fight could be Cote's chin; the Canadian has never been knocked out. If the fight does end up on the canvas, Silva could enjoy a slight edge. He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, though Cote holds a brown belt in the same discipline.

Likely to go the distance? No
Method of Finish? TKO


Watch the live feed of the UFC 90 weigh-in HERE on Friday, October 24th at 4pm CT.
To see the weigh-in, Microsoft’s SILVERLIGHT plug-in is required. To download the plug-in, click HERE

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