Loosing the Main event/draw of Frank Edgar/Gray Maynard III matchup will hurt Pay Per View numbers for UFC 130 but overall the fight card is still solid and has a lot to offer to casual and hardcore MMA fans. Also, PPV start time is 9pm so that should entice some fans on the East Coast who dont want to be watching MMA until 12:30am when its Memorial Day weekend. Here's what you need to know about this Saturday's event:
1. Will the real Rampage and Frank Mir please stand up?
Both Jackson and Mir are at similar places in their MMA careers. They are former champions but now in their early 30's who are at crossroads in their careers. Both are 1-1 in their last two fights and have fans clamoring for more out of them. As a fan of both men, it pains me to watch Mir and Rampage fight without the aggression that they use to fight with. They both at one point were considered the top of their weight divisions because they took the fight to their opponents and always tried to finish the fight. If the Jackson and Mir of Pre-2010 comeback into the octagon Saturday then their opponents have little to no chance against them (no offense to Matt Hamill and Roy Nelson)
2. Brian Stann versus Jorge Santiago will be electric
Stann and Santiago both want the same thing: to prove they are elite Middleweight fighters who deserve to keep moving up the rankings ladder. Stann has evolved into a powerful striker who has good takedown defense and may be be the strongest middleweight in all of MMA. Santiago has evolved into an electric all-around fighter who looks to finish every fight any way he can. Santiago has been considered one of the best 185 pound MMA fighters who was not already in the UFC as he has won the Strikeforce Middleweight Tournament. He also dominated Sengoku's 185 pound division for two years. But Stann is a Marine who is fighting on Memorial Day weekend, so we know he wants to win this fight more than any fight in his MMA career. This fight is going to either be the Fight of the Night or will end in dynamic fashion.
3. Thiago Alves must face his deamons to beat Rick Story
Thiago Alves has only had two issues keeping him from being the top Welterweight in MMA: cutting weight and aggressive wrestlers. Thanks to Mike Dolce, Alves' weight cutting issues are a bad memory and he may be better then ever physically. Now he faces a fighter in Rick Story who pushes the pace of the fight and is an excellent wrestler. Alves' last two losses have been to excellent wrestlers so needs to show he can stop the takedowns and make Story fight his game. Story has not fought a welterweight who is as powerful and skilled a striker as Alves and when Thiago senses weakness in his opponent he pounces and finishes. This fight will test both fighters in some of their weaker areas.
4. Will Stefan Struve versus Travis Browne be a fight worthy of the Main card?
I have nothing personal against either Struve or Browne, but when the biggest name either guy has beaten is Paul Buentello (Struve won a Majority Decision) its hard for me to rationalize their matchup being worth of the Main Card of a PPV event. The fact that the UFC decided to put Browne-Struve on the main card ahead of more well known fighters such as Miguel Torres (former WEC Bantemweight Champ) and Kendall Grove (Winner of Season 3 Ultimate Fighter) makes me wonder if they know something MMA fans and media dont. While Struve has won his last two fights by Knockout, Browne's last fight was a Draw again Cheick Kongo in a fight that was lackluster. So this could be a very interesting fight or it may be like watching pain dry.
5. Miguel Torres wants to win, which doesn't mean he is boring
The Former WEC Bantenweight Champ is currently on a two fight winning streak but has explained in interviews he just wants to win and if the fans think he is doing so in a boring way then that is on them. This is a fighter who was on a 17 fight win streak (from 2003-2009) during which 15 of those wins were by knockout or submission. Its unfair to say that Torres is now a "boring fighter" after one fight in which his strategy was to counter punched against a fighter who is usually aggressive. Torres has good boxing skills and he can submit fighters from any position. His next opponent, Demetrious Johnson, is usually a fighter who brings the fight to the competition so Torres will have a better opportunity this Saturday to show UFC fans his skills and hopefully erase the mislabel of "boring" next to his name.