Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has put together a card stacked with interesting mixed martial arts (MMA) fights this weekend (Sat., July 6, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
One that should be a very fun brawl is the FX-televised featured "Prelims" under card bout between Middleweight competitors Chris Leben and Andrew Craig, a 185-pound showdown that has the potential to capture UFC 162 "Fight of the Night' honors.
Leben, a 20-fight Octagon veteran, has for a long time been known for his thrilling, in-your-face approach to fighting. Coming off The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) in its inaugural season, Leben was known for his loud mouth and his tough demeanor, which definitely spilled over into his fighting. In most of his fights, "The Crippler" charges forward with reckless abandon, engaging opponents in wild striking exchanges and more often than not, putting on a great show.
Unfortunately, Leben has come across a rough patch in his career, with three losses in his last four fights. In addition, he served a lengthy suspension after his loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 after testing positive for prescription pain killers (oxycodone and oxymorphone). After the suspension, he returned to face defeat for the second time in a row, this time to Derek Brunson at UFC 155.
Craig is a fighter who doesn't really specialize in any one area, but he is proficient anywhere the fight takes place. He started his career with six straight wins before entering the UFC and notching victories over Kyle Noke and Rafael Natal. His eight-fight unbeaten streak recently came to an end at the hands of Ronny Markes, who defeated Craig via unanimous decision at UFC on FX 7.
Both of these middleweights are men who truly pack a punch, not afraid to stand and trade. When the fight hits the mat, they are also very skilled in this area, but it is more likely that this fight plays out mostly in a striking battle.
Leben, as expected, will likely be the early aggressor, pushing back Craig with combinations and haymakers, while Craig tries to work his own offense in between Leben's bull rushes. As the fight wears down, Leben will progressively rely less and less on any semblance of technique, swinging for the fences with whatever he has left in him.
It will be up to Craig to make this fight exciting, as he can probably choose between entering dangerous striking exchanges or wearing down Leben with point fighting and wrestling. Ultimately, with his new nickname of "Highlight," I would expect Craig to fight as he has in most of his victories, pressing the action and looking to land as often as possible.
Expect Leben to oblige him in this regard, as they will fight tooth and nail to have their hand raised at UFC 162.
When these two meet at the center of the Octagon at UFC 162, expect them to put on a great scrap. Both men are known to have exciting skillsets, and I would love to see a back and forth brawl between them. In my opinion, Chris Leben vs. Andrew Craig will be the fighters to earn "Fight of the Night" honors when the lights go down in "Sin City" later this evening.