UFC 107 preview headlined by Penn vs. Sanchez

BY foxsports • December 11, 2009

After winning season one of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005, many believed that Diego Sanchez was destined for UFC gold. With six straight wins in the octagon, "The Nightmare" was well on his way to earning a title shot in the 170-pound division before suffering back-to-back defeats.

Since those losses, Sanchez has dropped down to lightweight and racked up two extremely exciting victories over top contenders Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida. Sanchez will now have the opportunity to fulfill his destiny Saturday as he takes on B.J. Penn for the lightweight championship at UFC 107 in Memphis, Tenn.

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Also featured on the card, former heavyweight champion Frank Mir will collide with heavy-handed striker Cheick Kongo in the co-main event plus a lightweight battle between Guida and Kenny Florian.

Let's check out the main card:

B.J. Penn vs. Diego Sanchez

Despite getting dominated by Georges St-Pierre at UFC 94, Penn is still one of the greatest athletes in this sport. His recent submission victory over Florian at UFC 101 is further proof of that.

Penn may seem out of shape and bloated when competing in the welterweight division but at 155 pounds, "The Prodigy" has the gas to go all five rounds and outwork any opponent.

However, Penn has yet to face a fighter such as Sanchez who will be able to charge forward with relentless aggression for the duration of the bout. Sanchez is the Energizer Bunny of the UFC.

Sanchez is known for his powerful takedowns and brutal ground and pound but Penn's takedown defense for the 155-pound division is legendary. Even if Sanchez takes Penn down, Penn is extremely dangerous off his back.

Believe it or not, Sanchez may prove to have an advantage standing up rather than on the ground. Penn is a lethal striker but he relies almost entirely on his boxing whereas Sanchez is a much more versatile striker. On the contrary, Florian was considered a better all-around striker than Penn and Penn easily picked him apart.

Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo

Mir's ultimate goal is extracting revenge on heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar and Kongo is in his way of accomplishing that. Mir believes that Kongo is nowhere near being in his league, claiming that the French kickboxer has way too many holes in his game and is "irrelevant."

Some are dubbing this fight as a classic, "striker vs. grappler" contest but that isn't the case at all as Mir's stand up game has improved drastically over the years.

Kongo's only chance of winning this fight is to steer clear of Mir's ground game and hope to knock Mir out on the feet but unfortunately for the Frenchman, he does not possess the takedown defense to keep the bout standing.

Kenny Florian vs. Clay Guida

The fighters lost to both Penn and Sanchez respectively in their last appearances in the octagon. Florian was dominated by Penn where as Guida put up a valiant effort losing a decision in a memorable war with Sanchez.

Guida will look to put the pressure on Florian with his explosive wrestling base and overwhelming aggression.

In the past we have seen Florian dominated by a wrestler, when he fought Sean Sherk at UFC 64, but that fight was almost four years ago. "Ken-Flo" has evolved dramatically since that fight and has developed into one of the fiercest competitors in the lightweight division.

Florian will pick Guida apart with crisp striking technique and if the fight hits the ground he will also control the positioning with his elite jiujitsu skills.

Jon Fitch vs. Mike Pierce

Originally Fitch was set to square off with Brazilian jiujitsu specialist, Ricardo Almeida at UFC 106 but an injury from Almeida canceled the bout. Fans were excited when the UFC announced a long-anticipated rematch between Fitch and Thiago Alves at UFC 107 but once again, Fitch's opponent pulled out from an injury.

Fitch will now take on Pierce, who despite being an exceedingly talented fighter, is relatively unknown in the eyes of the fans. Fitch is widely recognized as either the second or third top welterweight contender in the world, so a loss to an unknown fighter such as Pierce would be devastating for him.

In Pierce's UFC debut, he took on Brock Larson at UFC Fight Night 19 and defeated him by unanimous decision. Much like Fitch, Pierce is an accomplished wrestler but Fitch's wrestling is on a much higher level, especially inside the octagon.

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Paul Buentello vs. Stefan Struve

This fight will mark "The Head-Hunter's" first appearance in the octagon since defeating Gilbert Aldana at UFC 57 in 2006. Buentello was originally signed to square off with Todd Duffee but Duffee has pulled out with an injury.

They don't call Struve "The Skyscraper" for nothing. He truly is one of the tallest/lankiest heavyweights ever to step foot inside the octagon. Standing at 6-foot-11, Struve is like a giant octopus on the ground and would have a definitive edge over Buentello on the mat.

Struve will be in some serious trouble if he is unable to take the fight to the ground. He doesn't have the best chin in the world and Buentello hits like a Mack truck, which spells a recipe for disaster for Struve on the feet.

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