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UFC 128 fight card: Ricardo Almeida vs Mike Pyle preview

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Mixed martial arts veterans and mirror images, Ricardo Almeida and Mike Pyle, are all set to touch gloves in a 170-pound contest scheduled for UFC 128, which will stream on Facebook at 8 p.m. ET this Saturday (March 19, 2011) night.

Both welterweights are primarily known for their submission grappling abilities; however, Almeida is the far more decorated grappler of the pair.

That typically means one of two things: Their similar styles will cancel each other out and we'll witness a stand up fight. Or, the strong jiu-jitsu players will lock limbs in a human chess match for 15 minutes.

Almeida has won four of his last five fights, including his most recent unanimous decision victory over T.J. Grant at UFC 124. Meanwhile, Pyle is riding high after his incredible dominant victory over John Hathaway, which marked his second straight win inside the Octagon. 

Something, therefore, has got to give when these two collide at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Will Almeida school Pyle in the real art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu? Or will Pyle be able to leverage his own ground skills and experience to set up a technical knockout finish?

Let's find out:

Ricardo Almeida

Record: 13-4 overall, 7-4 in the UFC

Key Wins: Nate Marquardt (Pancrase - Hybrid 10) Kendall Grove (UFC 101), Matt Brown (UFC 111)

Key Losses: Matt Hughes (UFC 117), Patrick Cote (UFC 86), Andrei Semenov (UFC 35)

How he got here: The last time we saw the Renzo Gracie-trained protege, he scored a unanimous decision victory over the tough T.J. Grant, improving his welterweight record to 2-1. Prior to his victory over Grant, Almeida was shockingly submitted with a front headlock by former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes seen at UFC 117.

How he gets it done: Almeida needs to utilize his takedowns and drag this fight to the mat. However, even though Almeida is a more accomplished grappler, I believe he will have a hard time submitting Pyle because of how mobile "Quicksand" is off his back. Almeida, therefore, will need to land punches once the fight hits the mat and keep busy to perhaps grind out a win via decision.

Mike Pyle

Record: 20-7-1 overall, 3-2 in the UFC

Key Wins: John Hathaway (UFC 120), Dan Hornbuckle (Sengoku - Second Battle), Jon Fitch (RFC 1 - The Beginning)

Key Losses: Jake Shields (EliteXC - Renegade), Jake Ellenberger (UFC 108), Quinton Jackson (ISCF - Memphis)

How he got here: Extreme Couture gym rat Mike Pyle has recently reinvigorated his MMA career. Pyle is currently on a two-fight win streak with victories over John Hathaway and Jesse Lennox. The decision win over Hathaway really put Pyle on the map -- Many pundits had Hathaway as a future star in the division and thought he was on the cusp of being ranked among the top 10.

How he gets it done: Pyle needs to sprawl and brawl, utilizing his underrated kickboxing. While Pyle is no slouch off his back, the primary weakness of Almeida is his striking. Look for Pyle to work angles and make Almeida pay for every failed takedown attempt with damaging blows.

Fight "X Factor:" The difference in the fight will be Pyle's fantastic conditioning and furious pace. Almeida has gone the distance often, but not at the kind of pace Pyle is able to push. And most of the time when Almeida makes it to round three, he usually fights at a lot slower pace and expends whatever energy he has left on a takedown.

Bottom Line: After it's all set and done, we'll get to see which welterweight is really ready to take the next step forward. I believe Pyle is more well-rounded of the two and that Almeida will be forced to fight a kickboxing contest. Almeida can't be counted out because he does have better grappling credentials, but he's not always the best finisher when it comes to jiu-jitsu in MMA. There's a difference ... a big one.

Which welterweight will reign supreme at UFC 128? Let your voice be heard!

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