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Preview: UFC 98
May 22, 2009 · By Scott Swerbinsky

Live in Las Vegas tonight the UFC will be the stage for one of the promising fights in their history. Two undefeated fighters, with the light heavyweight title on the line, something that has never happened before.

Rashad Evans can't get any respect no matter what he does or who he beats. One of the fastest improving fighters in the mma world, he recently has defeated some of the biggest names in the UFC. In his last four fights, Evans fought to a draw with Tito Ortiz, and beaten Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, and Michael Bisping. Talk about a who's who in mixed martial arts. After all of that success, Rashad is still an underdog in his first ever title defense.

Lyoto Machida is a very sound well rounded fighter. With his akward karate style, Machida has scored wins over Rich Franklin, BJ Penn, and Tito Ortiz. Many people think that Machida is in the conversation when it comes to the best pound for pound fighters in the world. He does present matchup problems for anyone he steps into the cage with.

Tonight, somebody's O has got to go. Evans at 18-0-1 should be the stronger wrestler but he hasn't had to display it much recently. Machida on the other hand, at 14-0, has the superior stand up skills.  This fight has the makings of a classic chess match and might bore some people to sleep. I think it's going to be a back and forth true mixed martial arts display. If one fighter makes a big mistake, it very well could end the fight as Evans and Machida are known to have great knockout power.

I like Evans to keep his belt tonight. I think his athleticism will be a huge factor and ultimately be the difference in the fight. The first round will be key, how Rashad is able to defend Machida's kicks and strikes. If he is able to stay focused and not get frustrated, I expect a few takes downs and some solid ground and pound from the champion.

The main fight on the undercard pits two bitter rivals in a match that was supposed to happen a long time ago. Matt Serra and Matt Hughes, who do not like each other one bit, finally face off in a battle at 170 pounds.

Matt Hughes is one of the best welterweight fighters the UFC has ever seen. His seven year run from 1999 to 2006 is simply awesome. In my opinion the game has simply passed him by. The dominating wrestler's skills are very good, just not good enough to compete with some of the monsters in the welterweight division of today.

Matt Serra is another fighter who has had a very nice career highlighted by his huge upset over Georges St. Pierre back at UFC 69. He has only fought once since then and it was a rematch with GSP where he was simply beat down.

The bad blood here started on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. A fight is always more interesting when guys truly don't like each other. This match could actually be the last for both guys and they will lay it all on the line in the octagon this evening. Look for a classic Hughes ground and pound victory and then for him to announce that he is retiring from the world of mixed martial arts.

Full fight card:

Champ Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida (for light-heavyweight title)

Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra

Xavier Foupa-Pokam vs. Drew McFedries

Dan Miller vs. Chael Sonnen

Frank Edgar vs. Sean Sherk

Brock Larson vs. Mike Pyle

Pat Barry vs. Tim Hague

Kyle Bradley vs. Phillipe Nover

Andre Gusmao vs. Krzysztof Soszynski

Brandon Wolff vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

David Kaplan vs. George Roop  

All in all, tonight should be a very solid night for the UFC. The main event should be a very good fight. The undercard should have a few fights as candidates as fight of the night. MMA fans could possibly be in for an unexpected treat with some of the talent at UFC 98.

Tune in and check it out.

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