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Adam Roberts 29th Jun 2010 - 19:51

UFC 116: The biggest fight in MMA history?

UFC 116: Featuring Lesnar Vs Carwin all the way from Las Vegas, Nevada

The long awaited return of UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is finally upon us. In his enforced absence due to diverticulitis, the UFC again introduced an interim belt to be contested by the only previous victor over Lesnar, Frank Mir, and undefeated top contender Shane Carwin. Also on the card is the inevitable rematch between Stefan Bonnar and Krzysztof Soszynski, ensuring we find the true winner following what should have been a No Contest between the two back in February, when Soszynski was awarded the stoppage victory following an accidental clash of heads. TUF heavyweight contender Brendan Schaub fights Chris Tuchscherer; Yoshihiro Akiyama faces late replacement Chris Leben in the middleweight division; crowd favourite and Fight of the Night veteran Chris Lytle goes up against TUF 7 competitor Matt "The Immortal" Brown; and lightweights George Sotiropoulos and Kurt Pellegrino go head to head in what is likely to be the biggest PPV event so far this year.

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Brock Lesnar 4/7 Vs Shane Carwin 5/4

The Interim title was decided by Shane Carwin's vicious KO of Frank Mir, which came in under four minutes at UFC 111 and determined that he would face the Champion for the undisputed belt. On Saturday night we find out whether Brock Lesnar's incredible physique, athleticism and wrestling skill, allied with his astonishing development in MMA ability, will be enough to overcome Carwin's massive knockout power and striking accuracy. Brock, as reigning champion holding wins over Heath Herring and Randy Couture, and having avenged his loss to Mir, goes in as 4/7 favourite. Shane Carwin, available at 5/4, certainly has a chance of knocking out Lesnar, and poses the first significant threat to the champion's chin. However, the longer the fight goes, the more likely Brock is to snare Carwin on the mat and keep him there to grind out a victory, as with his win over Mir at UFC 100. I fancy Brock to win by stoppage in the second or third of this five round championship fight, Shane, having never needed longer than the first round to vanquish his twelve professional opponents (four in the UFC), being dragged out of his comfort zone and made to pay the price.

Stephan Bonnar 13/8 Vs Krzysztof Soszynski 4/9

These men previously opposed each other at UFC 110 in Australia, where the fight was prematurely ended by a medical stoppage due to a cut on Bonnar's forehead caused by an accidental headbutt. This should have been ruled a No Contest but the Polish fighter was awarded the stoppage victory - not that he wanted it. Both men quickly agreed to rematch following a great show of sportsmanship by Soszynski. Bonnar was behind on points in the fight and it serves as a good indication of how it should go second time around - Bonnar has been a Dana White (UFC President) favourite ever since his landmark bout with Forrest Griffin in the finale of TUF 1 and this has possibly seen him given more chances than he warrants on pure ability. 4/9 favourite Krzysztof Soszynski should have enough to win this fight without controversy, most likely by decision over the extremely durable, 13/8 shot, Stephan "the American Psycho" Bonnar.

Brendan Schaub 2/7 Vs Chris Tuchscherer 5/2

Two heavyweight fighters face off on the Spike TV preliminary card, also shown live on ESPN in the UK: a recent TUF alumnus, and an alumnus of the most painful blow I've ever seen in MMA. Chris Tuchscherer marked his Octagon debut at UFC 102 Vs Gabriel Gonzaga by receiving an attempted leg kick from the 6'2", 18 stone Brazilian flush in the groin. A full five minutes and one sick-bucket later Tuchscherer elected to fight on, only to be downed via head-kick and follow up punches, despite further admirable resistance from the Minnesota based man. Brendan Schaub is unlikely to cause Brock Lesnar's training partner Tuchscherer the same amount of discomfort but his superior athleticism, conditioning and reach should see him outbox his opponent and win via KO, or, given Tuchscherer's undoubted resolve to fight on whatever the circumstances, a comfortable decision. 2/7 favourite Schaub showed enviable technique during his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 10, and holds a purple belt in BJJ. Whilst not so decorated as those in the top echelon of MMA, this gives him a further advantage over the 5/2 Tuchscherer should the fight go to the mat.

Of the other fights on this card, Sotiropoulos - Pellegrino is of interest as the former looks to mount a run at the title. The Australian's black belt BJJ has looked imperious to date and he could provide a further challenge for anyone at the top of the lightweight division. Seth Petruzelli rejoins the UFC to face newcomer Ricardo Romero, the 6'6" middleweight Kendall Grove takes on Croation kick boxer Goran Reljic, and another TUF 10 graduate, John Madsen fights the much hyped and also unbeaten London-based Czech Karlos Vemola.



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