(Nate Quarry [left] shows off the move that made him famous. Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.com.)
The UFC returns to Montreal on April 18th for UFC 97, headlined by the shrug-worthy title fight between Anderson Silva and Thales Leites, and the somewhat more compelling light-heavyweight battle between fading legends Chuck Liddell and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Here’s some of the supporting bouts that we’ll be seeing on the card…
— Jason MacDonald vs. Nate Quarry (MW): MacDonald is coming off a first-round submission-via-strikes loss to Wilson Gouveia at last month’s TUF 8 finale, and hasn’t been able to put together two wins in a row since 2006. Quarry became Demian Maia‘s latest strangulation victim when he succumbed to a rear-naked choke at UFC 91 in November. The win-or-get-fired threat level on this one has been raised to Orange.
— Luis Cane vs. Steve Cantwell (LHW): Though Cane was originally rumored to face Keith Jardine in his next fight, the Dean of Mean was booked to headline UFC 96 (March 7th, Columbus) instead. Cane will instead be taking on reigning WEC light-heavyweight champ Steve Cantwell, who famously snapped Razak Al-Hassan‘s arm at last month’s "UFC Fight for the Troops," then gloated about it afterwards. Cane is coming off of impressive TKO victories over Jason Lambert and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, while Cantwell is on a four-fight win streak, dating back to his time in the WEC.
— Brian Stann vs. Krzysztof Soszynski (LHW): Stann is the guy who Steve Cantwell took the WEC light-heavyweight belt from last August. The two fighters actually fought twice in the WEC, with each man winning one, and were supposed to have their rubber match at "Fight for the Troops," but an injury forced Stann to drop out. Now he’s finally ready to make his UFC debut, and will likely be taking on the Canadian-by-way-of-Poland TUF 8 standout known around here as K-Sos. Soszynski has won his last four professional bouts, most recently putting away Shane Primm via nasty kimura at the TUF 8 finale.
— Ryo Chonan vs. TJ Grant (WW): Making his Octagon debut at UFC 97 will be TJ Grant, a Nova Scotia native who has built up a 13-2 record (with 12 wins by submission) fighting in King of the Cage, TKO, and various regional Canadian promotions. His current four-fight win streak includes victories over UFC vets Chad Reiner and Forrest Petz. Chonan, the last fighter to give Anderson Silva a non-DQ defeat, is coming off a decision loss to Brad Blackburn at UFC 92.