By Damon Durante
With more than a month and a half gone by since the last UFC event, fans of MMA are chomping at the bit for the night of August 25th.
With the Heavyweight Championship of the world on the line as well as a former Welterweight title holder doing battle, UFC 74 is sure to provide an epic showcase of UFC talent.
The night starts with a matchup between TUF alumni Patrick Cote (+190) and Kendall Grove (-240). Grove remains undefeated in the octagon and looks to continue his rise to the top of the middleweight division by taking out Cote, who is 1-5 in the UFC, losing to the likes of Tito Ortiz, Chris Leben and Travis Lutter. Cote salvaged his UFC career with a unanimous decision victory over Scott Smith at UFC 67 but a loss to Grove here could spell the end for this Canadian submissions expert.
Next up, Kurt Pelligrino (+210) goes toe to toe with Joe Stevenson (-280) in a clash of lightweight up and comers. At the tender age of 25, Stevenson has had 39 MMA fights and is a stellar 4 -1 in UFC matches. Pellegrino last fought back in April on the Stevensen vs. Guillard undercard at UFC Fight Night taking a first round submission victory over Nate Mohr.
The return of former Welterweight Champ and UFC superstar Georges St. Pierre (-250) is one of the most anticipated comebacks in recent UFC history. St. Pierre was expected to dominate the UFC’s Welterweight division after his annihilation of former champ Matt Hughes. He was dethroned by unlikely victor Matt Serra in the first round of his only ever title defense. He looks to get back into championship form as he takes on TUF 1 alumni Josh Koscheck (+200) who is on a 5 fight winning streak in the octagon and coming off a big time win over Diego Sanchez at UFC 69.
After gracing the cover of sports illustrated, Roger Huerta’s (-500) meteoric rise through the UFC has been astounding. His already stellar record of 20 – 1 – 1 is combined with a perfect 4 – 0 in the octagon. He is facing UFC newcomer Alberto Crane (+350) who boasts and undefeated mma record of 8 – 0 and a reputation as a submissions machine.
Finally, the main event of the evening pits two unlikely combatants together for the UFC Heavyweight Championship Belt. Unlikely because current title holder Randy Couture (-115) was a heavy underdog against Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 before grinding out a solid unanimous decision, and his opponent Gabriel Gonzaga (-115) was never supposed to defeat (let alone knock out) Croatian superstar Mirko Cro Cop.
Two fighters that were never supposed to face each other squaring off to prove that beyond a belt, there are few things that a fighter covets more in the world of MMA than respect.
Here are some other notable lines for UFC 74 – Respect:
Renato Sobral (-300) Vs. David Heath (+230)
Sobral needs a solid victory here to keep his UFC career alive
Frank Mir (-180) Vs. Antoni Hardonk (+150)
The comeback trail continues for Frank Mir.
Clay Guida (+100) Vs. Marcus Aurelio (-130)
A solid matchup af two battle tested lightweights.