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Marquardt v. Palhares and other UFC booking news

It’s been a busy week for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, in that he had to choose which men would perform hand-to-hand combat on one another inside of a cage. Screw feeling bad for Haitians and people with full-blown AIDS; Joe Silva has it rough.

Anyway, here are a couple match-ups that have been announced or rumored in the past few days, wrapped up neatly in one nice little package for your convenience, just like the bagged lunch frickshun’s mother leaves me every morning before she heads off to make daddy some bread.

– After having his UFC 116 match-up scrapped, Nate Marquardt will return to the Octagon at UFC 117 or 118 against Rousimar Palhares, the middleweight division’s resident limb snapper. The Brazilian has looked phenomenal in his UFC career thus far, posting a 4-1 record with three submission victories. This will be the first time Palhares has stepped into the cage with an elite fighter since dropping a decision to Dan Henderson back at UFC 88, so it will be interesting to see how far he’s brought his game along. I’m hoping Nate scores another Street Fighter-style finish to set himself up with a top contender fight with somebody awesome like Vitor or Wanderlei.

Alessio Sakara, Marquardt’s original opponent, has also found himself a new dance partnet: the surging Jorge Rivera. The two will meet at UFC 118 in Boston, Rivera’s home town. (It’s a bit strange that Marquardt and Sakara didn’t just get their fight moved to August, as opposed to each being given new opponents, but I like these fights better anyway so I’m not complaining.) A few years ago, a Sakara-Rivera fight might have been dubbed a loser-leaves-town match. Now, after both guys have strung together some impressive victories, the winner of this one could find himself as a legitimate contender in the middleweight division. Should be a slugfest.

- Also in middleweight action, former WEC champion Brian Stann will drop down from 205 to face off against Jersey’s Mike Massenzio at UFC on Versus 2. Both of these guys are coming off losses, so it wouldn’t be surprising for the loser of this one to wake up the morning after the fight without a job.  The problem for Stann is that Massenzio is a grappling wizard, having won numerous competitions in both NAGA and Grappler’s Quest, and Stann has been known to have a few (see: many) holes in his ground game. If Stann wants to pull off the victory, he’ll have to improve his takedown defense enough so that he can smash Massenzio’s face before it gets to the ground. I dunno about you guys, but I’m pulling for Stann here.

– In yet another addition to the UFC 118, Joe Lauzon and Terry Etim, two of the lightweight division’s brightest prospects, will step into the cage to inflict physical pain upon one another. Like Stann and Massenzio, both of these guys are also coming off losses, but I don’t think the loser should be all that worried about his job security, as each man has racked up enough Octagon wins to stick around for a while. Stylistically, both men are pretty stellar on the ground, so we’ll see how that factors into the fight. I’ve always liked J-Lau, despite his patently offensive nickname, but I’m gonna go ahead and pull for Etim just so I can hear his garbled British accent during a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.