It seems like every second card UFC puts together is an intriguing one.  I had mild interest in UFC 109, but coming up in about two weeks is the one I’m looking forward to quite a bit.

First and foremost, Cain Velasquez is near the top of my watch list.  At 7-0with five of those wins coming in UFC, I’m intrigued by a NCAA Division I wrestler who has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, especially when 6 of his 7 wins have been by knockout.  He’s got skills, yet it’s his heavy hands which end his fights.  He beat the very experienced Ben Rothwell in his last fight back in October, and he has a huge test coming up against legendary Minotauro Nogueira at UFC 110.  You can bet that Nogueira is going to want to get into the hunt for the Heavyweight title, and after beating Couture back in late August (winning Fight of the Night honors), Nog was supposed to fight Velasquez at UFC 108 – a fight which – at the time – would’ve been for the #1 contender to the Heavyweight title.

I’ve not seen a ton of Wanderlei Silva fights, but in the past 6 fights Silva has only won one of them, so I tend to think that after 44 professional fights, this upcoming one might be his last, especially since I’m expecting him to lose to Michael Bisping at UFC 110.  When I watched The Ultimate Fighter – USA vs UK,  I came through it as a bigger fan of Michael Bisping than I was of Dan Henderson (a surprising turn, since Hendo was representing USA – a former Olympian).  I was slightly disappointed when Henderson knocked Bisping out at UFC 100, and I wondered how Bisping would recover in his next fight.  I wasn’t surprised that Bisping improved his record to 18-2 with his fight against Denis Kang, but the after-fight attitude from Bisping was one I was intrigued by.  He was very gracious, and it was nice to watch his humanity show through as he played around with his kid in the octagon afterwards.  He seems like a good guy, humble, and entertaining.  I’d really like to see him continue to move up the ladder to see how he could do in a title fight.  He’s probably one of my top 10 favorite fighters at this point.  Given that I’ve not been too impressed by what I have seen of Wanderlei, I’m definitely looking for a Bisping win.

Joe “Daddy” Stevenson’s best days might be behind him now that he’s got 40+ fights in his career, but he’s still considered a viable fighter, and he’s won two straight.  He’s a never-gonna-die veteran, at at UFC 110 he’s going up against George Sotiropoulos – a guy I know from watching TUF: Hughes vs Serra.  With the fight in Sotiropoulos’ native Australia and a great record dating bac to early 2006 (aside from being disqualified against Shinya Aoki – one of the top fighters in the division), I’m sure Soti’ is going to put on a great fight against Stevenson.

I will admit that I started liking Ryan Bader during TUF: Nogueira vs Mir because his nickname is “Darth Bader” (I’m not a 100% Star Wars nerd, but I’m close to it), but the more I learn about this sport, the more I respect wrestlers from Arizona (of which Bader is one).  He won “The Ultimate Fighter” that season, which really caused me to take notice.  I’m biased towards fighters who I’ve seen fight a lot (especially when they’ve won the fights I’ve seen).  Since knocking out Vinny Magalhaes, Bader hasn’t been able to finish either of his two fights without the judges’ decision, which I’m not a big an of.  He’s fighting Keith Jardine, who has fought some of the division’s top fighters – and beaten a few of them (Gouveia, Griffin, Liddell, Vera).  Should be an interesting test for Bader, and an opportunity for Jardine to find his way back into the pecking order in the division.  Keith has lost three of his past 4, but his loss to Rampage Jackson by decision was his closest chance at getting on a roll and moving towards a title shot.  Instead, Jardine’s on the verge of being a welcome mat after losing to Silva in his last fight.  Some decent questions to be answered in this one.

Mirko “Cro Cop” built up a big name for himself prior to coming to UFC – and a decent record.  Now at 25-7 he’s coming off a loss to Junior dos Santos.  Ben Rothwell is a veteran with a good record as well (30-7), and he’s also coming off of a loss to a much younger competitor (Cain Velasquez at UFC 104).  One of these two guys is coming to win and be put into another position to test a top young contender.  I think Rothwell needs to win so he’s not in trouble of losing his UFC contract.  He’s 0-1 since joining the company.  Cro Cop is only 1-1, but he almost seems to work like a scout to Croatian fighters for the UFC, with a couple other of Mirko’s countrymen fighting on this card.  It’s always fun to see two well-accomplished veterans, and this one is no exception.

Another one I’m looking forward to watching is Stephan Bonnar – who a lot of MMA fans who have seen lots of Bonnar’s fights enjoy watching him.  Following a loss in the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter, I’ve been keeping an eye on Krzystof Soszynski, who I’ve been impressed with.  Sure, Sos’ lost to Brandon Vera back at UFC 102, but Vera nearly defeated Couture following that fight (and many thought Vera was robbed in the decision loss to the Hall of Famer).  Well respected veteran vs potential star on the rise.  Interesting storyline to me.

The other fight that I care about on this card is C.B. Dollaway (another Arizona State wrestler) who I’m familiar with from The Ultimate Fighter, taking on BJJ brown belt Croatian fighter Goran Reljic, who is 8-0 and was impressive in what I’ve seen of him.  It’s been almost two years since he’s fought, though, which makes me wonder what’s going on with him.  He had an injury going into UFC 90, and I’m hoping he healed up well, because I think he could be a force at middleweight.

I don’t know much about Igor Pokrajac other than the fact that, as a fellow Croatian, he trains with Cro Cop and he has a pretty good record (21-6).  It will be interesting to see what he’s capable of doing (even if it’s just reading the results and then going online to try to find a video of it).  I’ve never heard of Pokrajac’s opponent, either (not surprising since it’s James Te-Huna’s UFC debut).

A card with seven fights for me to look forward to?  Not much more I could ask for… except for maybe a press pass (not that I’ll be in Australia).