The main event of Sunday’s card is going to be an equally exciting fight as well, just probably not in the same way. I am not expecting to to see much grappling going on between Dan Hardy and Chris Lytle. Both of these fighters have a boxing/striking background and both have been known to stand in the pocket and trade. This is a huge fight for Hardy, who is coming off three consecutive losses; one of those losses came by way of a title shot against George St. Pierre. Since then, Hardy has been beaten twice and desperately needs to show he should still be considered one of the best in the welterweight division. A win over a tough UFC veteran such as Lytle could do just that. But Lytle is no stepping stone. He is a guy who can hurt an opponent standing or on the ground so if Hardy wants to dominate this fight, his “keys to victory” should be to keep it standing, come prepared with take-down stuff and have great conditioning. Lytle is an interesting fighter to watch due to his experience in multiple disciplines. He holds a black belt in BJJ and is an experienced boxer compiling a professional record of 13-1-1. Lytle’s experience could be a factor as to how he shares the record (with Anderson Silva) for most UFC fight bonuses with eight. The UFC hands out bonuses to fighters who receive any of the following awards: Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night or Submission of the Night. Lytle’s eight include five Fight of the Nights, two Submissions of the Night Honors and one Knockout Of The Night honors. Another interesting fact is that Lytle is not even a full time mixed martial artist. He works full-time as a firefighter at the Indianapolis Fire Department in addition to his fighting career. Chris’ exciting fighting style and interesting life outside the cage have always made him a fan favorite. This is an intriguing fight with two guys desperate for a win.
Strikeforce is airing their Challengers series on Showtime this Friday at 11:00pm EST. For those of you who do not subscribe to Showtime, get it. I’m not going to say their original programing is better than HBO’s (because we all know HBO is prettyyyy prettttyyy prettty good) but a few of their programs are right up there. Anyway, this all pertains to combat sports because in addition to quality original programing, Showtime subscribers also have access to premier MMA and Boxing content, with Friday night being no exception. Think of a Strikeforce Challengers card as AAA ball
teams playing against each other, with the main event of the event representing the AAA all-star teams. This addition of Strikeforce Challengers is headlined by a lightweight battle between Jorge Gurgel vs. Joe Duarte. This bout is a classic tale of a grizzled vet coming into his own against an up-and-coming fighter looking to cement his name at the top of the list. Gurgel is a top notch BJJ player who has been criticized in the past for not fighting his game. Instead, Jorge would stand in the pocket with his opponent and turn every bout into a brawl. This might have won him a few fight of the night bonuses while still fighting under the UFC banner but it did little to advance his career. Gurgel now brings veteran experience to the cage and a dedication to fight his style. His opponent Friday night is Joe Duarte. Joe is a native of Guam and a former soldier in the US Army, having completed two tours of duty in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. Joe is a one of a handful of professional mixed martial artists who have also served in America’s armed forces. Joe is a highly touted up and comer in Strikeforce’s 155 pound division and is looking to capitalize on a high profile fight. Duarte is an athletic fighter who will need to rely on his balanced attacks and keep Gurgel guessing all fight. This match-up will definitely be a war and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a vicious KO or gnarly submission ending it.
This weekend is full of potentially awesome bouts with many fighters either desperate for a win or looking to announce their legitimacy in the MMA universe. That combination creates some dangerous individuals in the cage and we should all get geared up to see plenty of exciting action all weekend long.
*Editor’s Note: Today, after post’s submission, UFC announced re-match of Maynard/Edgars set for Oct. 8th at UFC 136.