The UFC knows how to manage the news, leaking out some good upcoming matchups to distract from the Sherk/Franca fiasco.
Tyson Griffin (9-1) vs Thiago Tavares (13-0)
Word is out today that this matchup will be featured on the UFC 76 card. Whoo hoo! I posted the other day that both of these guys should be in a sixteen man lightweight tourny for the (soon to be) vacant UFC Lightweight belt. Winner takes on B.J. Penn for the belt. Regardless of whether it’s part of a tourny or not it will definitely impact the UFC title picture as both guys are young, amazingly talented and fast rising stars. It’s the kind of fight that start a legendary rivalry like Penn/Pulver. Thiago has the edge with submissions since he’s got like a 90% victory by submission rate — only two decisions in 13 fights. But Tyson is no slouch in that department. I’d give Griffin the edge in wrestling and maybe in stand-up but honestly I think this match will come down to who can impose his will and dominate through physical power. They’re both incredibly explosive. I’m going to pick Griffin because he’s just come through wars with Clay Guida and Frankie Edgar. I don’t think Tavares has been put to any compable test. If I’m wrong and Thiago rolls through Griffin like he did through Jason Black, we’re looking at a future champ.
Terry Martin 16-2 vs Chris Leben 16-4
A while back I posted on the middleweight picture and was a bit stymied about what to do with the red-hot Terry Martin since there’s no other fighter in the division on a comparable hot streak — except Anderson Silva of course, and Terry’s not ready for the title shot yet. So Joe Silva has done the next best thing, pitting this year’s fast-rising fighter against last year’s model. It’s kind of hard to believe now but once upon a time Leben was 5-0 in the UFC and seemed to be cruising for a title shot. Of course Silva exposed him and since then he’s lost three more. Will this be Leben’s last stand? Here’s hoping. I think Martin could one of the biggest threats to Silva’s belt with his raw power and wrestling skills. Leben, not so much.
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