I was worried that UFC 89 (October 18th; Birmingham, England) was going to be one of those off-brand cards that are hastily thrown together for the British market — but it may have potential after all. Besides the requisite matchups of Bisping vs. Leben and (possibly) Davis vs. Kelly, and a reported welterweight feature of Thiago Alves vs. Diego Sanchez, the UFC has just added three more compelling bouts to the lineup.
First up is a light-heavyweight bout between Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou — who’s coming off a first-round TKO of Kazuhiro Nakamura at UFC 84 — and Luiz Cane, who recently knocked out Jason “Flapjacks” Lambert at UFC 85. Sokoudjou was already regarded as one of the top ten 205′ers in the world when he entered the UFC, and is probably still trying to shake off the humiliation of being the only guy that Lyoto Machida has finished in the last two years. Both him and Cane have a lot of hype behind them, and both like to throw bombs; could be a wild one.
Next is a heavyweight bout between Denver-based destroyer Shane Carwin (9-0) and British brawler Neil Wain (4-0). Like Carwin, Wain has won all of his fights by first-round stoppage — though I don’t think that little fun fact will matter much once the bell rings and Carwin starts charging across the cage. Like his 44-second mouthpiece-ejecting knockout of Christian Wellisch at UFC 84, this match might turn into another stunning KO win for the up-and-coming Carwin.
Finally, British welterweight star Dan Hardy (19-6) is set to make his Octagon debut against Akihiro Gono. Hardy is the reigning Cage Warriors welterweight champion, and has only suffered one loss (via disqualification) in his last nine fights. Gono (28-12-7) is a veteran of Shooto, Pancrase, and PRIDE who won his UFC debut last November by tapping Tamdan McCrory with an armbar at UFC 78; injury has prevented him from competing since.