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Mallory Looks at UFC 71: Liddell vs. Jackson

By Mallory Mahling
May 23, 2007, 11:22


UFC has been on a roll lately, not just because of its soaring popularity, but also because of a string of shocking results to high-profile matches. It started with Rich Franklin's loss to Anderson Silva and continued with Matt Hughes' loss to Georges St. Pierre, and St. Pierre's subsequent loss to TUF winner Matt Serra.

Probably the most stunning loss of all was Mirko Cro Cop's loss to the virtually unknown Gabriel Gonzaga. But that is the nature of the beast, so to speak, when your motto is "as real as it gets." Nothing scripted or predetermined about this sport.

Take the case of Jens "Little Evil" Pulver. His much-anticipated return to UFC was KO'ed by newcomer Joe Lauzon. In a perfect UFC world, Pulver would have won that match and gone on to win the Lightweight Division gold and coach The Ultimate Fighter 5. Well, part of that has happened, since life does go on, and Pulver has become one of the two TUF-5 coaches. Ironically, Lauzon is now one of the hopefuls fighting for a UFC contract on the popular reality show.

This Saturday night, May 26th, UFC's next pay-per-view will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Headlining will be another high-profile fight--Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Given Liddell's recent history, one would expect him to prevail, but as we've seen, nothing is ever a given in MMA.

Jackson represents one of Liddell's three professional losses. The last time they fought was November 9, 2003, when Jackson won by TKO after Liddell's corner threw in the towel. That was also the last time Liddell lost a fight. Since then, Liddell has become UFC's Light Heavyweight Champion and an MMA legend. The Iceman has avenged those other two losses and aims to do the same with Jackson Saturday night.

Those new to UFC may not be as familiar with Jackson, but he can be seen on many of Pride's highlight shows on the Fox Sports Network. The guy is fearsome. He comes to the ring howling like a wolf. His bling is a junkyard chain around his neck.  Little, if anything, intimidates Rampage. 

You can be sure that a streak will be broken Saturday night. Will it be UFC's string of high-profile upsets? Or will it be Liddell's four-year winning streak and an unavenged loss?  We'll find out in just a few days.

Who am I picking? Chuck Liddell, of course.

* * *

In addition to Liddell vs. Jackson, the main card for UFC 71 will showcase a number of past TUF fighters. (WWE should have used TUF's recipe for making new stars instead of the one they used for "Tough Enough." If they had, they'd have a roster full of new stars by now.)

- Terry Martin vs. Ivan Salaverry

- Josh Burkman vs. Karo Parisyan

- Houston Alexander vs. Keith Jardine

- Kalib Starnes vs. Chris Leben

The undercard, which may not be seen on the live show, will consist of:

- Thiago Silva vs. James Irvin

- Sean Salmon vs. Alan Belcher

- Jeremy Stephens vs. Din Thomas

- Carmelo Marrero vs. Wilson Gouveia

(Check local listings for time and channel.)

Enjoy the show! 

* * *

Thanks for reading and see ya next week.

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