UFC Fight Night 11 is set for this Wednesday, September 19 at 9 p.m. ET from the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Spike television special will air right before the debut episode of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 6 mixed martial arts reality series.
Put simply, it's a great night to be a UFC fan.
We're getting ready for all the action with our quick preview, analysis and predictions for the televised portion of the main card.
Normally, I go toe-to-toe with UFCmania.com contributor, Jesse Holland. However, after talking to some of our top posters I learned that many of them enjoyed sharing their thoughts in this column while I was on baby "vacation."
So, every once in a while we will ask a site regular to chip in with some feedback on upcoming events. In the meantime, I'll try not to take it too personal.
First up: Loyal UFCmania.com reader "Luppers."
Below, you'll see that Jesse and Nathan took one fighter in each bout to support. It's important to note that while someone may be lauding a certain fighter, he isn't necessarily the guy who he thinks is going to win.
Basically, we never want this to come out sounding repetitive — that happens enough on this site day in and day out. At the end of each analysis, therefore, you will see the picks.
Here we go:
Din Thomas (20-6) vs. Kenny Florian (6-3)
Jesse Holland: Kenny Florian versus Din Thomas in any other place and time might be nothing more than a battle of two talented lightweights. But thanks to the Sean Sherk steroid scandal, this match now has an air of title contention surrounding it. And don't think Din Thomas doesn't know it. In our conversation with Din back in July, he spoke candidly about getting the title shot he feels he deserves. It won't be an easy task as he faces The Ultimate Fighter alumnus and perennial lightweight contender Kenny Florian. KenFlo might get goofed on for looking like Ben Stiller and Kevin Richardson, but that doesn't change the fact that he's a skilled fighter. Five of his six wins have come by submission, including his quick disposal of the up-and-coming Sam Stout at Ultimate Finale 3, an opponent many "experts" picked to send him back into obscurity. His losses to Diego Sanchez and Drew Fickett were in a weight class where his body was not welcome, and a five round decision loss to Sherk? Not exactly a blemish considering Sherk's accomplishments. Thomas is very well rounded and is nearly impossible to submit but I think Florian is a better fighter on the inside and fights the smarter fight. He's also quicker and assuming Thomas continues his love affair with his jab Florian may have little trouble getting the better of each round.
UFCmania reader "Luppers:" Din has been around for years, fighting hard and being very undersized at 170 pounds. Now that the 155-pound division has returned to the UFC and the weight class is in full swing, Din is back at his natural weight. The match up with Kenny should be a good fight. Din has always demonstrated exceptionally fast hands and refined standup. "Dinyero" also has fantastic submission talent, winning more than half of his fights by submission.Thomas knows this fight with KenFlo is his chance to get back to fighting the top fighters in his division and could earn him a potential rematch with BJ Penn in the near future. Thomas is going to take full advantage of this chance.
Holland -- Florian via unanimous decision
Luppers -- Thomas via unanimous decision
Chris Leben (16-4) vs. Terry Martin (16-2)
Jesse Holland: Terry Martin is back by unpopular demand to face the only fighter in the UFC with a mouth that can match his own. Aside from a big trap, Martin also has big power. He's finished more than 60% of his fights by (T)KO and is 4-0 since losing to Jason Lambert at UFC 59. He's much quicker and better conditioned now that he's dropped to a more natural 185lbs. and a win here could put Martin into the title hunt in a division that is quickly starting to thin out. Martin also has an advantage going into this fight in that a loss would be much more devastating for Leben than it would for him. "The Crippler" has been on a downturn since his KO loss to Anderson Silva, going 1-2 and publicly questioning his commitment to the UFC. Whether or not Martin can use this to his advantage remains to be seen. Martin needs to be cautious because he can be susceptible to the haymaker. I wouldn't be surprised to see him try and outmuscle Leben as he did Ivan Salaverry at UFC 71. In 18 fights Martin has only gone to a decision once so he can't be accused of not brining it. As long as he keeps that momentum and doesn't get reckless he stands a good chance of making it up one more rung on the middleweight ladder.
UFCmania reader "Luppers:" Leben is well-known from his time on the TUF series. Not exactly a fan favorite, Leben has always been respected for what he is - a banger. Rogan said it best when he made the statement that Leben's red dyed head was 'like a fire hydrant.' Even though Leben has lost his last two fights in rather undramatic fashion, he boasts wins over such exceptional fighters as Mike Swick, Patrick Cote and Luigi Fioravanti. Leben's back is basically to the wall, which makes men fight much harder.
Holland -- Leben via technical knockout
Luppers -- Leben via technical knockout
Nate Diaz (6-2) vs. Junior Assuncao (5-2)
Jesse Holland: The UFC hopes Junior Assuncao will continue the long and honored tradition of playing patsy to a recently crowned TUF champ. Assuncao on the other hand, hopes to be the first fighter since Josh Neer to rain on the graduation parade. Nate Diaz, like his brother before him, is a difficult fighter to match up against from a style perspective, but that may actually work in Junior's favor. Assuncao is brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is comfortable tussling on the ground. He also loves to battle but will probably look to avoid striking with Diaz where he has a distinct disadvantage. Even if it stays on the feet however it's not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Full Throttle fans will remember when Dustin Hazelett turned Junior's body into peanut brittle only to get knocked out shortly thereafter in a spectacular finish. Assuncao needs to be the smarter fighter to pull this one out and not let Diaz pick him apart in the stand up. To that end, he should try and avoid staying in one place for very long. To me the most interesting aspect of this fight is taking place outside of the Octagon. Will older brother (and EliteXC fighter) Nick be cornering Diaz for Wednesday's fight?
UFCmania reader "Luppers:" Yet another standout from the TUF series on this lineup, many casual fans know of both the Diaz brothers. Nate trains with his exceptionally talented brother, Nick, at Cesar Gracie jiu jitsu. Diaz' last fight ended early because of a Manny Gamburyan injury during the TUF 5 Finale where Diaz walked out the winner. With Diaz' exceptional jui jitsu skills he has a great chance of winning against almost any fighter in the lightweight division.
Holland -- Diaz via unanimous decision
Luppers -- Assuncao via unanimous decision
Nate Quarry (8-2) vs. Pete Sell (7-3)
Jesse Holland: Nate Quarry returns to the Octagon for the first time in almost two years and his first order of business is to prove his TKO stoppage of Pete Sell back at 2005's Ultimate Fight Night was no accident. Fans may remember the questionable stoppage for being a bit premature and also for creating a Quarry "Manwich". While critics may be concerned about Quarry's ring rust it should be noted that Drago hasn't exactly been tearing up the division since they last met. He's 1-2 with back-to-back losses in the UFC including a tough KO loss to Scott Smith at Ultimate Finale 4. Quarry's strength has always been his hands and he'll be looking for the KO to put an exclamation point on his return. The last place he wants this fight to end up is on the ground where he is easily outmatched. Look for Quarry to keep away from the shot and set up the big punch. Considering the layoff "The Rock" may have a questionable gas tank but in my opinion he's not interested in letting this one to go the distance. None of his UFC wins have gone longer than one round and I don't expect this one too either. I have a feeling history is going to repeat itself.
UFCmania reader "Luppers:" "Drago" is another fighter from the TUF series who fights and trains with current Welterweight Champion, Matt Serra, at Serra jiu jitsu. Sell -- like Leben -- has lost his last two UFC, holding a 1-3 record in the Octagon. His only win, in fact, is a submission over the hard-hitting Phil Baroni. One of his losses in the UFC has come against Nate Quarry. Pete is a skilled jiu jitsu artist that absolutely needs to win this fight and get back to his winning ways. Look for him to come out aggressive and try to win this fight cleanly.
Holland -- Quarry via technical knockout
Luppers -- Quarry via technical knockout
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and provide your picks for UFC Fight Night 11.
For the complete UFC Fight Night 11 fight card click here.