(Mustapha Al-Turk vs. Mark Kerr, Cage Rage 20, 2/10/07)
There are so many marquee names on the UFC’s year-end card (December 27th, Las Vegas) that the three heavyweights who will be stepping into the Octagon for the first time could get lost in the shuffle. So let’s take a quick look at the dudes who will be fighting for a slice of recognition during their UFC debuts at #92…
MUSTAPHA AL-TURK (HW)
Experience: 6-3 record, with all wins by first-round stoppage due to strikes. Last seven fights were in the now-defunct Cage Rage, where he won their British heavyweight title. Most recently defeated James McSweeney via TKO at Cage Rage 27 in July.
Will be facing: Cheick Kongo (12-4-1, 5-2 UFC)
Lowdown: Al-Turk was originally supposed to be fed to Cain Velasquez, but a knee-injury forced Velasquez to pull out of the bout. A member of the London Shootfighters camp, Al-Turk won the ADCC European Trials in 2005, but lost his first-round match at the World Championships to Gabriel Gonzaga. His solid takedowns and ground-and-pound could create serious problems for Kongo, a standup fighter without a strong ground game.
MIKE WESSEL (HW)
Experience: 8-1 record in various midwestern/southern regional leagues (15-1 including amateur fights). Most recently submitted Aaron Winterlee at a Subzero Fighting event in August.
Will be facing: Antoni Hardonk (7-4, 3-2 UFC)
Lowdown: A late replacement for Mark Burch, who had to pull out of his fight against Hardonk due to undisclosed reasons, Wessel trains with TUF 8 footnote Roli Delgado at Westside Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s a former strength and conditioning coach for the University of Arkansas; his website also says he’s a former pro football player. We’ll see if that’s enough to stand up to Hardonk’s notoriously brutal leg-kicks.
PAT BARRY (HW)
Experience: 3-0 MMA record in the Combat USA organization (with all wins by first-round KO/TKO); 20-5-1 pro Muay Thai record and nine appearances in K-1.
Will be facing: Dan Evensen (10-3, 0-1 UFC)
Lowdown: Barry, nicknamed "Get Hype," trains with legendary kickboxing champ Duke Roufus at Roufusport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Barry is only 5’11”, and the last time a heavyweight under six feet entered the Octagon, Shane Carwin beat the shit out of him. But considering his bout with Evensen will likely be a striking match only, this could actually turn out to be interesting. The quote on Barry’s MySpace page says "IF YOU AINT HYPE YOU AINT SHIT." Words to live by.
(Pat Barry vs. Gary Goodridge, K-1 Hawaii 2007 quarterfinal match.)