UFC 58: USA vs. Canada Preview by Stephen Quadros

UFC 58: USA vs. Canada
Saturday, March 4, 2006
Mandalay Bay Events Center
Las Vegas, Nevada

By Stephen Quadros, “The Fight Professor”

(Light-heavyweight Championship Match)

Rich Franklin (Champion/USA)


David Loiseau (Challenger/Canada)  

He has loads of talent in addition to a likable, self-effacing personality. He is as legitimate a top-level fighter, as the sport is capable of producing. The man’s work ethic is what impresses me most however. He isn’t content to sit back and coast, he is always working to improve himself. So, which guy am I talking about? Both actually.

So what is the difference between these two modern day gladiators? UFC middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin has a much wider array of experiences and battle-tested techniques to draw from, he’s a natural born terminator who has never relied on the judges decide the outcome of one of his fights and he has had to rally on occasion to close the show. He has a will of steel. 

Since Olympic silver medal winning wrestler Matt “The Law” Lindland was ostracized by the company last year (Lindland was released from the UFC for wearing a Sportsbook.com t-shirt during a weigh-in), challenger David “The Crow” Loiseau is the most dangerous contender hovering in the UFC’s middleweight division at the moment.

Loiseau’s weapon of choice is the elbow and he is extremely fast and accurate at using them while on his feet. Plus he, like his Canadian teammate Georges St. Pierre, has a crippling spinning back kick. So theoretically he will pose a formidable threat to the champion. But Franklin will be relentless in his pursuits and will most likely finish this one on the ground to retain his belt.
BJ Penn (USA)


Georges St. Pierre (Canada)

This match is the hottest ticket in the game at the moment. Two young top-five ranked warriors who have proven themselves with victories over elite opposition. Georges “Rush” St. Pierre tooled Frank Trigg, tapped Sean Sherk and was looking very impressive before losing to UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes. BJ “The Prodigy” Penn punished and submitted PRIDE top dog Takanori Gomi, trumped Renzo Gracie, went toe-to-toe with highly regarded heavyweight/light-heavyweight Ryoto Machida (Penn lost the decision) and of course choked out Matt Hughes and took his title (the UFC stripped Penn of the belt when he fought for K-1).

St. Pierre has the kind of physique and athleticism that the promotion is looking for. He also has a charm, presence and sense of humility that endears the viewers. Penn has an almost legendary status and rightfully so. He was the first American to win the world jiu-jitsu championships in Brazil. He roared into the UFC with three larger than life KO/TKOs (Joey Gilbert, Din Thomas and Caol Uno). After taking the title from Matt Hughes with a rear naked choke (January 2004) his status was secure, he was #1.

Pros and Cons: BJ has ballooned up to fight Machida (light-heavyweight) and two Gracies, Rodrigo and Renzo (at middleweight). The results were not as spectacular as his fights at lighter weights were and all three of his heavier fights went the distance. Now for the first time since early 2004 he is at 170 pounds. That will be a factor but I’m not sure will be a positive or a negative.

Penn has to know that strength and agility will be the true problem with Georges. His preparation should focus on dealing with these elements and how to overcome them. St. Pierre is well rounded but has never been on the mat with someone with the jiu-jitsu skills of BJ Penn. His training at Renzo Gracie’s academy in New York is time well spent to prepare for the inevitable ground struggle. His lightning fast spinning back kick could be a fight turning weapon if he unleashes it at a later, unexpected moment.

Standing St. Pierre has the edge in terms of speed. But we saw the Canadian struggle with the boxing imposed attacks of Sean Sherk in his last fight. Penn has KO power in both hands, which may neutralize any perceived advantage that Georges has due to quickness. Georges has superior takedowns defense but BJ has world-class skills at getting his opponents to the ground. It is this area, the takedown/takedown defense aspect, where the fight will reveal the link between potentially winning or losing. The ground game is where Penn will shine, especially is he gets on top of Georges. BJ Penn sets up his submissions, especially the rear naked choke, with a frightening avalanche of ground and pound.

To me this one, like the rest of this card, isn’t about “USA vs. Canada” (groan); I just want to see the best guys compete and the best man win. And BJ Penn is going to be hard to stop if he’s in shape. Although this could go all three rounds my gut tells me that Penn will win by submission.

Diego Sanchez (USA)


John Alessio (Canada)

Diego “The Nightmare” Sanchez is one of the most focused fighters I have ever seen in the UFC. His confidence is straight from the heart and that has truly unnerved more than one opponent. But overall he really reminds me of a present day Rickson Gracie. His style seems cut from the mold founded by that jiu-jitsu great: take your adversary down, ground and pound until the ref stops it or until the man on the bottom opens up and succumbs to a submission. John “The Natural” Alessio, like Sanchez, is a former King Of The Cage welterweight champion. As a matter of fact because they never fought each other in KOTC for that title this match does have a bit of a storyline. But that is where the pre-fight drama will end. 

Diego is on such a roll at the moment that there are currently only maybe 3-4 guys in the UFC who might be able to stop him. Unfortunately John Alessio is not on that list. Let me look into my crystal ball for the forecast: the horn toots (UFC does not use a bell), Diego takes John to the floor, Diego punches John in the face while sitting on top of him, John turns his back and BADA-BING, Diego straps on a fight finishing RNC (rear naked choke), the then crowds begins chanting “Rickson, Rickson…” I mean “Diego, Diego, Diego…”

Nathan Marquardt (USA)


Joe Doerksen (Canada)

Not that it matters but Joe “El Dirte” Doerksen (pronounced ‘dirk-son’) has a really wacky sense of humor. But he knows that former multiple King Of Pancrase champion Nate “The Great” Marquardt is no joke. And Nathan was relatively laughless when he supposedly tested positive for banned substances after his tedious fight with top contender Ivan Salaverry on August 6, 2005 during the main event of Ultimate Fight Night (Marquardt later retested negative and was cleared). 

Because Nathan’s first and only fight in the UFC (with Salaverry) was lackluster he will probably fight aggressively here. And that’s bad news for Joe. But within that ‘flurry in a hurry’ mentality Marquardt has to be careful not to play into Doerksen’s strength, submissions. I doubt that will happen and have to go with Nate by decision.
Mike Swick (USA)


Steve Vigneault (Canada)

What’s not to like about “Swick-fu”? OK, OK, Mike “Quick” Swick has gone the distance one time (he won a unanimous decision). But in almost every other fight he won, he did it with a KO (Swick has one rear naked choke victory on his resume). And it seems to me that opponent Steve “Lion Heart” Vigneault is tailor made to extend Mike’s rep as a fast finisher. Swick by KO.


 Jason Lambert (USA)


Rob MacDonald (Canada)

Rob “Maximus” MacDonald, 3-1, is a veteran of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter TV show. He is fighting WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) champion Jason “The Punisher” Lambert, 19-5. Because their styles are similar on paper (both are wrestlers who like to maul there opponents) I will have to go with the man with experience. Jason by TKO.
Yves Edwards (USA)


Mark Hominick (Canada)

Technically the UFC has not had a lightweight champion since the departure of Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver when he chose to fight abroad. But there was a match that in my opinion SHOULD have crowned a new (replacement) champion, and that was when Yves Edwards faced Josh Thomson at UFC 49 on August 21, 2004. In a competitive affair Edwards KO’d Thomson with a jump roundhouse kick but walked away without a belt. That was the last time we saw a lightweight bout in the UFC. Now almost 2 years later, Edwards returns…along with the concept of the 155-pound division. And it’s about time. Cut out of UFC programming for whatever reason, the lightweights have flourished in other sections of the globe such as PRIDE, K-1 (both in Japan) and Cage Rage (England) where the finest little guys in the world were featured to the delight of their audiences.

So Edwards, the “uncrowned UFC lightweight champion” if you will, meets Mark “The Machine” Hominick from Ontario, Canada. This tough guy has never gone the distance win or lose in his career (he’s 9-4). He won’t be a push over but Edwards should be able to strut his stuff and win this possibly with a KO.

Kenny Florian (USA)


Sam Stout (Canada)

Sam “Hands Of Stone” Stout, 8-1-1, is just shy of Georges St. Pierre, David Loiseau and Denis Kang as far as Canadians rising stars in MMA. His exceptional kickboxing skills will test the growing Muay Thai prowess of Boston resident Kenny “Kenflo” Florian, whose previous UFC bouts were at 170 (Another lightweight fight? What’s going on here?). This one has the potential to be a great standup fight but I’m thinking Mr. Florian will want to see how good Stout’s jiu-jitsu is.

Tom Murphy (USA)


Kristof Midoux (Canada)

Two bulls and not a matador in sight (other than Herb Dean or Big John McCarthy). Both Tom Murphy and Kristof “The French Hurriacane” Midoux heavyweights have punching power so expect a Jurassic Park style ending.