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UFC 128 fight card: Kurt Pellegrino vs Gleison Tibau preview

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Lightweights Gleison Tibau and Kurt Pellegrino will collide on the UFC 128 preliminary card, which will begin to air live on Facebook at 8 p.m. ET this Saturday (March 19, 2011).

Tibau is a gigantic 155-pound fighter, walking around north of 180 pounds when he's not cutting weight to make the lightweight division limit. The Brazilian often uses that muscle inside the Octagon to get his opponents to the ground to do what he does best:

Submit them.

Pellegrino, too, is also no slouch on the ground. In fact, "Batman" has finished more than a 60 percent of his opponents throughout his nine-year career. However, the last nine months of that career he's been on the sidelines rehabbing a shredded knee.

Will Tibau's size and strength make the difference? Or can Pellegrino make a triumphant return in front of his home state of New Jersey at the Prudential Center in Newark?

Let's find out:

Gleison Tibau

Record: 21-7 overall, 7-5 in the UFC

Key Wins: Caol Uno (UFC Fight Night 21), Jeremy Stephens (UFC Fight Night 18), Rich Clementi (UFC Fight Night 17), Thiago Alves (Champions Night 2)

Key Losses: Nick Diaz (UFC 65) , Jim Miller (UFC Fight Night 22), Tyson Griffin (UFC 81)

How he got here: Tibau just can't seem to get himself into the top tier of the division despite his best efforts. The American Top Team lightweight consistently defeats lower rung competition, but consistently loses to quality opposition, too. He simply couldn't get the judges to rule in his favor against Tyson Griffin, Melvin Guillard and. most recently, Jim Miller. Prior to Tibau's loss to Jim Miller, he plowed through Caol Uno with incredible power and technique.

How he gets it done: Tibau cannot afford to let it get to the judges -- We all have witnessed the rash of questionable decisions, plus the fact that he'll be fighting in Pellegrino's home state. Tibau will need to get Pellegrino on his back and land big shots. Since Pellegrino also has been documented with having knee issues, it wouldn't be too bad of an idea for Tibau to utilize some leg kicks in this fight while it remains upright.

Kurt Pellegrino

Record: 15-5 overall, 7-4 in the UFC

Key Wins: Josh Neer (UFC 101), Fabricio Camoes (UFC 111), Thiago Tavares (UFC 88)

Key Losses: George Sotiropoulos (UFC 116), Joe Stevenson (UFC 74), Nate Diaz (UFC Fight Night 13)

How he got here: Pellegrino is currently coming off a loss to George Sotiropoulos back at UFC 116, in a fight where he looked good way too late and was far behind on points. The Point Pleasant product is returning from a severe knee injury, which doctors actually advised against because of concerns that it could rupture again. Injury be damned, Pellegrino is apparently determined to make a statement in the lightweight division, refusing to let a serious injury get in his way ... especially when he was given a chance to fight so close to home.

How he gets it done: Pellegrino has to get things done early and avoid having the bigger Tibau on top of him. Look for Pellegrino to utilize his striking to try and create angles and make Tibau miss the big punches he throws. Pellegrino cannot afford to let this fight go the distance and should go for broke on Tibau and push a hard pace until he can get an early finish.

Fight "X factor:" Cardio will play a factor in this fight assuming this fight goes past the first round. It's hard to imagine someone with a ruptured knee in peak cardiovascular shape. And I believe Tibau will be able to push a hard pace and be able to finish the fight with Pellegrino being tired and hurt.

Bottom line: The odds are stacked against Pellegrino in this fight, but if he can pull it off, Pellegrino will show that he's still very much a factor in the lightweight division. Tibau holds virtually every advantage in this fight right now with the exception of speed and Pellegrino's ability to be crafty. The fight should go to Tibau on paper via a devastating finish, but Pellegrino's heart to even accept the bout should not go unnoticed.

Will Kurt Pellegrino or Gleison Tibau get the big win on Facebook? Let your voice be heard!

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