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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Big Fights for year end 2008 UFC 92

Not one, but two titles are on the line on December 27th as former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir continues his pursuit to regain the belt when he meets Interim UFC Heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira in a showdown between the two coaches of this season’s edition of The Ultimate Fighter®. Also on tap is a grudge match between two former champions, as MMA legend Wanderlei Silva takes on former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

Who is the greatest champion to ever come out of The Ultimate Fighter? That question could very well be answered as Forrest Griffin (16-4) meets the red-hot Rashad Evans (17-0-1) for the 205-pound crown. Las Vegas, Nevada’s Griffin has won three in a row, including a submission victory against former PRIDE® champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and a stirring decision win over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Niagara Falls, NY native and former national junior college champion wrestler Evans is starting to compile quite a highlight reel with knockout wins over Jason Lambert, Sean Salmon and most recently UFC legend Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.

“Forrest fights from the heart just like me, and everyone underestimates Forrest until they get in there with him, like me,” said Evans. “I think he and I are going to be like Ali vs. Frazier – this will be the first time we meet, but it won’t be the last, so I want to set the precedent. Fighting Forrest for the title is a dream come true; it’s crazy to think about how far I’ve come, but I’m going to treat this like every other fight. And like I’ve shown time and time again in my fights, opportunity is all I need.”

As always, Griffin remains focused and humble.

“I’m happy that the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 gets to fight the winner of Season 2,” Griffin said. “I think that’s great for a couple of reality show guys. Rashad has a great wrestling background, he has a lot of power and explosiveness, and he doesn’t just knock guys out, he knocks them out for quite a while. But I know a lot of people will be watching this fight. This is a great fight card, I’m honored to be on it, and I’m definitely not going to let anything slide.”

It’s almost time for The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir coaches to step from the Octagon™ apron to inside the cage and decide who deserves to be the heavyweight champion. Las Vegas’ Frank Mir (11-3) will meet the only man ever to hold the PRIDE and UFC heavyweight titles, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (31-4-1). The matchup features two Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts that seem to enjoy high-profile matches.

“I’m excited to get back in the Octagon December 27th and finish off what was started on The Ultimate Fighter Season 8,” said Nogueira. “I’m the Interim Champion, I’m fired up to fight Frank Mir. He’s one of the best ground guys in America and I’m looking forward to testing my skills against him.”

As former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir readies himself for his greatest test yet, he appreciates the fact that he’s about to lock horns with an MMA legend.

“It’s a huge honor fighting Nogueira,” Mir said. “No matter what happens at the end of the night, I’ll be a better fighter for it. I’m looking ahead; I’m not looking back at where I came from. I’m going to keep pushing forward, and getting my title back is just another step forward for me.”

In what has “fight of the night” written all over it, former PRIDE champion Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva faces a man who he has beaten twice before in Memphis, Tennessee native Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Both of these fighters have dynamite in their fists, and Rampage (28-7) is looking to prove that he is a different and greatly improved fighter.

“Wanderlei is an exciting fighter with awesome skills,” said
Jackson. “I think this is going to be the fight of the year. Don’t miss it.”

But Curitiba, Brazil’s Silva (32-8-1), who is coming off a vicious KO win over Keith Jardine, didn’t return the compliment.

“I’m not fighting him for money – I’m fighting him for pure pleasure,” Silva said. “He talks bad about me on the Internet, yet he won’t talk bad to my face. I don’t like him and I can’t wait to beat him down at UFC 92.”

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