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UFC 62: Chuck Liddell vs. Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar

By Cliff Montgomery,
Many fight nights are known for what spectators see that evening--the courage, the toughness, the amazing contests of will and ability that only the fight game can provide.

UFC 62: Liddell vs. Sobral, an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event scheduled for August 26, 2006 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, will be broadcast live on pay-per-view in the United States and Canada. Among other things, many are waiting for the rematch of Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar, and rightly so. But in some ways this UFC tournament may also be remembered for the fights which won't be on its roster.

Many have already talked about UFC 62 as little more than a hump for current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Liddell to ride over as he readies himself for a possible "superfight" slugfest with PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva in November--provided Liddell wins at UFC 62, of course.

And there is the bout that was supposed to happen. Interest had also been up over a planned lightweight title match between Sean Sherk and Kenny Florian. Though it was to take place at UFC 62, it was nixed by Florian, who has confirmed his rejection of the offer.

But we should not be too quick to feel that UFC 62 holds only a waiting game for Liddell, or should be perceived as a "should-have-been" for those who were aching to see a promising Sherk-Florian lightweight title bout.

Let's take the Liddell-Sobral matter first. Granted, Liddell is at the top of his game, and he is perhaps rightly considered by many to be the favorite to win at UFC 62--but many are far too quick to write off Renato (pronounced Heh-naw-to) Da Cunha "Babalu" Sobral.

Liddell's great strength is his ability to mix solid punching power with an excellent wrestling technique. But Sobral's greatest strength is also in wrestling, and as a member of the Gracie Barra Combat Team he has created a professional MMA record of 27 wins and 5 losses, with 14 victories coming by way of submission.

Nor is Sobral a man of small achievement. He's soundly defeated such fighters as Trevor Prangley, Mauricio Rua, and Jeremy Horn in a single night at IFC tournament "Global Domination".

Before Sobral joined the Gracie Barra Combat Team he also trained in Ruas Vale Tudo, a martial arts system developed by the legendary Marco Ruas.

And Sobral's particular combination of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has put him firmly on a winning streak. The 6 ft. 1 in. (185 cm), 205 lb. (93 kg) "Babalu" has won his last ten consecutive matches, and has not lost since 2002--to Chuck Liddell, via KO (Head Kick) at 2:55 into round 1, at UFC 40-Vendetta.

Will he prove to be a better opponent for Liddell this time around, or will this be a repeat of their match in UFC 40? In any case, with both men now surely better fighters, we may be dead wrong to ignore this match-up.

So what does the current roster for UFC 63 look like? Here's the schedule as of August 8th:

* Light heavyweight championship bout: Chuck Liddell vs. Renato "Babalu" Sobral
* Light heavyweight bout: Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin
* Middleweight bout: Yushin Okami vs. David Terrell
* Welterweight bout: Josh Neer vs. Thiago Alves
* Light heavyweight bout: Wes Combs vs. Wilson Gouveia
* Light heavyweight bout: Cory Walmsley vs. David Heath
* Lightweight bout: Hermes Franca vs. Jamie Varner
* Heavyweight bout: Cheick Kongo vs. Christian Wellisc
* Light Heavyweight Bout: Rob MacDonald vs. Eric Schafer

Who might serve up a few surprises? Two we might want to watch are David Terrell and Hermes Franca.

Terrell's addition to the roster (he will be fighting relative newcomer Yushin Okami) may prove to be an inspired choice. Nicknamed 'The Soul Assassin', the 6 ft. 0 in. (183 cm), 185 lb. (84 kg) middleweight Terrell fights out of Santa Rosa, California, and trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

While his record (6 Wins, 2 Losses) arguably shows the 28-year-old Terrell to be a talented but still incomplete fighter, he is known for some shows of brilliance.

In his UFC debut, Terrell scored an incredible knockout victory over top middleweight Matt Lindland. As one might expect, this victory immediately thrust Terrell into title contention--perhaps before he was ready for it.

David fought against Evan Tanner for the vacant UFC Middleweight Championship title in February, 2005. Despite quickly locking Tanner in a good guillotine choke, Terrell ended up losing to Tanner by technical knockout in the first round.

Plagued by recurring injuries, Terrell's next fight did not come until UFC 59 in April of 2006. There Terrell submitted his opponent, Scott Smith, with a rear naked choke hold in the first.

Hermes Franca is a Brazilian UFC lightweight. He made his UFC debut at UFC 42, defeating Richard Crunkilton by unanimous decision. After a bad 2005, Franca seemed reborn in 2006. He has remained undefeated during his 2006 return, and beat Roger Huerta at UFC 61 in July.

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