UFC 128 "Prelims" airs this Saturday night (March 19, 2011) on Spike TV featuring a stellar 205-pound match-up between Eliot Marshall and Luiz Cane in a fight for relevancy in the promotion's stacked light heavyweight division.
Marshall, a longtime Greg Jackson pupil and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt, will be looking to make his successful return to the Octagon after picking up three-straight victories outside the UFC. "The Fire" was temporarily put out when he lost a split decision to Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC on Versus 1 just over a year ago.
Also fighting for a spot on the roster is Cane, who needs a win (badly) as he may be on the verge of getting his UFC walking papers. The Brazilian was once considered one of the division's brightest prospects as "Banha" holds the rank of black belt in BJJ and also has a solid background in kickboxing.
Will Cane be able to put himself back in the win column? Or will Marshall make it four in a row on Saturday night?
We break it all down after the jump:
Record: 10-2 overall, 3-1 in the UFC
Key Wins: Jason Brilz (UFC 103), Vinny Magalhaes (UFC 97), Josh Haynes (ROF 39)
Key Losses: Vladimir Matyushenko (UFC on Versus 1), Rob MacDonald (ROF 31)
How he got here: The 30-year-old Marshall has seen his ups and downs in the UFC, from losing to fellow castmate and eventual Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 winner Ryan Bader and then Vladimir Matyushenko on the Versus network to defeating the likes of wrestling stud Jason Brilz and BJJ wiz Vinny Magalhaes.
After his loss to "The Janitor," Marshall looked to work his way back into the UFC by competing in regional promotions and racking up three consecutive victories, including a win over TUF 3 competitor Josh Haynes.
How he gets it done: Boulder, Colorado native Eliot Marshall will need to establish the clinch and bring this fight to the mat. He showed in the Matyushenko fight that his stand-up still needs improvement. The smart move for Marshall here is to test the ground game of Cane, because despite the fact that his opponent lost by knockout twice in a row, it was to two of the best strikers in the division. If "The Fire" can get the fight to the mat, look for him to stay active and try to inflict as much damage as he can.
Record: 10-3 overall, 3-3 in the UFC
How he got here: Armory trained fighter Luiz Cane is on a two-fight losing skid with back-to-back knockout losses to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Cyrille "The Snake" Diabate. Prior to those losses, Cane dispatched MMA veterans Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Jason Lambert. He also holds a unanimous decision victory over former WEC light heavyweight champion Steve Cantwell.
How he gets it done: Cane is a southpaw and has shown far more technical proficiency on his feet than his foe. Marshall tends to stand too tall at times with his hands low, leaves his chin in the air and has little head movement. Look for Cane to try and land powerful strikes on Marshall and aim for the big knockout.
Fight "X Factor:" I believe the wrestling of Cane will be the "X Factor" as he'll be able to dictate where this fight goes. Cane's wrestling may not be at the All-American level but he is strong with his takedowns and more importantly his counter-wrestling will be sharper than Marshall's ability to bring the fight down to the canvas.
Bottom Line: Both men can't afford a loss here and I believe Cane and Marshall will fight as hard as they possibly can to avoid getting the pink slip from the UFC. In this fight I see Cane returning to his winning ways and handing Marshall his second loss inside the Octagon. Marshall just doesn't have the striking proficiency unless he magically turns into a southpaw with vastly improved boxing.
Expect Cane to try and gets things done early with a big knockout.
Which light heavyweight will take the next step? You decide!