Here’s three reasons you should tune in to UFC on Versus 4.
Sunday night, the UFC returns to the Versus network for the first time in three months with four fights from two of the organization’s premier divisions.
Just in case the fact that airs live on cable television wasn’t enough to persuade you to watch, Heavy MMA brings you three more reason to tune in onto the action from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Though there was a late change to the main event, the situation remains the same: whoever wins becomes a serious contender in the 170 pound division.
Long time middleweight contender Nate Marquardt makes his welterweight debut, dropping down in weight for the first time to face late replacement Rick Story. Fresh off a dominant victory over Thiago Alves at UFC 130, Story brings a six fight winning streak and plenty of momentum with him into this one.
The winner of this bout will position themselves as a potential challenger for the welterweight title. Champion Georges St. Pierre has already cleaned out the division, and outside of his October meeting with former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz, few options remain.
Story steps into the cage just 29 days after disposing of Alves looking to build off the biggest win of his career, while Marquardt faces a must-win situation in his divisional debut. A loss would shuffle him into the middle of the loaded welterweight deck, the same place he resided in the less daunting middleweight ranks before heading south a division.
Marquardt has struggled in these situations and against fighters like Story in the past. Powerful wrestlers who impose their will have gotten the better of him before, and for all his previous success, the former middleweight contender has come away on the wrong side of the results in marquee fights more often than naught.
All those elements combine to make this a must-see match-up.
2. Heavyweight Litmus Test, Part One
Cheick Kongo is a proven commodity in the UFC heavyweight division. The massive Frenchman is the gatekeeper to the upper tier, a guy who has faced some of the best in the organization, but never quite made it to the next level.
That being said, you don’t go 8-4-1 inside the Octagon by being a scrub.
On the other hand, the ceiling for Pat Barry is still unknown.
The charismatic former professional kickboxer has alternated wins and losses through his first five UFC bouts, and has yet to collect a standout victory. He’s got the personality and popularity to be a star, but you’ve got to earn the right to be in the spotlight inside the cage as well. This is his chance.
Barry has some solid tools to build with; he’s a tremendously powerful striker with devastating leg kicks. After being criticized for his performance against Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 115, Barry says he discovered the killer instinct many felt he was lacking preparing for this fight with Brock Lesnar’s DeathClutch team.
If that is the case, this could be his official coming out party. If not, it’s still going to be an entertaining heavyweight scrap.
Either way, it sounds like something you should be watching.
3. Heavyweight Litmus Test, Part Two
Unlike the previous fight, there are no known commodities in this one; only a pair of heavyweight sluggers looking to take the next step up the ladder in the UFC’s big boy division.
Christian Morecraft has split a pair of appearances inside the Octagon, though he was impressive in both.
While he may have lost his debut against Stefan Struve at UFC 117, the Ithaca, New York native had the young Dutch heavyweight on the ropes in the opening round. Tired after trying to pound out a victory, Morecraft ate a big right hand from Struve early in the second and was pounded out from there, but rebounded with a strong showing against Sean McCorkle back in February.
Now he faces a stiff test in the form of the unbeaten former NFL’er Matt Mitrione.
Coming out of Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, you knew Roy Nelson and Brendan Schaub had good shots at becoming successful in the UFC. After all, they faced each other in the finals and the heavyweight division wasn’t exactly a shark tank at the time. Mitrione, on the other hand, has come out of nowhere, and keeps impressing every time out.
The comical and charismatic Mitrione has earned wins in each of his four appearances, three by way of stoppage. His last performance, a win at UFC Fight for the Troops 2 in January, was his most impressive to date.
After defeating Marcus Jones, Kimbo Slice and Joey Beltran in his first three fights, Mitrione needed a second shy of three minutes to dispose of Tim Hague to collect his fourth win. While his performance on TUF cast him as an oddball, Mitrione’s natural athleticism and ability to learn quickly has him poised to start playing a new role: heavyweight contender.