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UFC hits 100 with gusto





















John C. Cotey can be reached at john om. It started in 1993 in the shadows, at McNichols Arena in Denver, and nearly 8,000 paid their way in while another 80,000 watched on pay-per-view and untold hundreds more on rare videotapes passed around later as if they were rare contraband.Eight men, from eight different fighting disciplines, trying to prove which was the best.That night, it happened to be jujitsu, as practiced by Royce Gracie, who got submissions from all three opponents to win UFC 1.Tonight, at UFC 100, they will continue the discussion.Only this time, there are no shadows, just a bright spotlight. Mandalay Bay, a 12,000-seat venue, is already sold out. ESPN showed the weigh-ins. A million pay-per-view buys is not out of the question.UFC 100 will likely dwarf any boxing pay-per-view that doesn't have an Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd Mayweather in it, though that's no longer surprising. In 2008, according to Yahoo.com, Manny Pacquiao's victory over De La Hoya produced 1.2 million buys, but UFC events held seven of the next nine highest selling events, including 1.01 million buys for Brock Lesnar's win over Randy Couture.From low budget to high class, through myriad problems and owners and bad press, from being banned in 49 states and nearly banished forever, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is charging forward with seemingly no end in sight.UFC 100 is being billed as the biggest mixed martial arts event ever, and that's without some of the stars — Tito Ortiz, B.J. Penn, Chuck Liddell and Couture — most recognized by average fans."You're like, holy cow, you're almost like a superstar just for the fact that you were there live and to actually think that I'm competing in UFC 100 …" said heavyweight Frank Mir, who fights in the main event against Lesnar. "(Maybe) 30 years from now Brock and I will be spoken about the same way: 'Hey, man, I was there when Brock fought Mir for the second time.' "cotey@gmail.c
UFC 100: Handicapping tonight's big fights
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir Lesnar, top, is probably more known for his turn as a World Wrestling Entertainment superstar. The hulking behemoth doesn't look like a mixed martial arts star — he's 6-foot-3 and had to cut weight to get down to the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds — but he has emerged as a force and people forget he was an NCAA champion wrestler at Minnesota. He has to win over some diehards, however. He got a title shot when he was just 1-1 (he's 3-1 now), and a lot of purists see him as a marketing phenomenon more than a mixed martial artist. His win over the older but legendary

Randy Couture to capture the heavyweight title may have dispelled some of those notions, but others point to his first fight with Mir (12-3) as proof he is an overblown, one-dimensional fighter. In that fight, Lesnar used his power to dominate but rushed the finish — big no-no in MMA — and Mir, despite being on his back, was able to lock down Lesnar's leg and get a submission. Mir is the more well-rounded fighter, but he will need another misstep by Lesnar to put his jujitsu skills to good use.
Georges St.-Pierre vs. Thiago Alves The purists and diehards chafed by Lesnar point to this fight as the real main event, and it's pretty tough to argue. St.-Pierre, top, may be the heir apparent to Chuck Liddell as the face of the UFC. The 170-pound welterweight champ is 18-2 after a lopsided victory over B.J. Penn and has avenged both his losses. Many consider him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game. Alves (22-4), who trains in Coconut Creek, is bigger, maybe stronger, and has won all seven of his fights — including a victory over Matt Hughes — since his last loss in 2006. St.-Pierre is favored, but this may be his most dangerous opponent to date.
Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping Henderson (24-7), top, is a former heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion in Japan's PRIDE, the former MMA fighting championships that was a precursor to the UFC's success, and his resume is long and impressive. Though Bisping is 18-1 and the younger fighter, he will be the smaller fighter in this 185-pound bout and is the least likely of the main event fighters to win tonight.

FAST FACTS

Mixed martial arts: UFC 100

Main event: Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, heavyweights

When/where: 10 tonight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas

TV: Pay-per-view television or online streaming video at Yahoo Sports or UFC.com, $44.95

UFC hits 100 with gusto 07/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 10, 2009 9:51pm]
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