The UFC officially announced Terry Etim vs. Rob Emerson, Shane Carwin vs. Christian Wellisch and Rousimar Palhares vs. Ivan Salaverry as the remaining bouts which will make up the UFC 84: Ill Will fight card. The event will takes place on May 24 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will air live on PPV.
The card will be headlined by the highly anticipated match-up between Lightweight Champion BJ Penn and Sean Sherk for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Other notable matches include a pair of light heavyweight bouts featuring Wanderlei Silva taking on Keith Jardine and Lyoto Machida looking to stay undefeated against Tito Ortiz.
Penn vs. Sherk
The UFC usually comes up with some pretty ridiculous names for their events, like “Rapid Fire” and “Breaking Point,” but “Ill Will” is quite appropriate this time. Penn and Sherk have made no secret of their dislike for each other. Sherk is coming off a suspension after testing positive for steroids following his successful lightweight title defense against Hermes Franca at UFC 73. Despite a lengthy appeals process that put the Lightweight Championship on hold, the UFC stripped Sherk of his title following the CSAC‘s ruling to reduce his suspension to six months, but still deemed him guilty.
Penn wasn’t shy to say how he felt about the scandal and had these choice words about Sherk:
The guy has been cheating for how many years? At least everybody knows now what everybody had suspected the whole time…As far as Sherk goes, he’s going to have to sit on the side and wait while the two people fight for the real lightweight championship, not the ‘steroid championship.’
Sherk fired back calling BJ a “pothead”.
Penn went on to win the Lightweight Championship against Joe Stevenson at UFC 80, and now Penn and Sherk will meet. This match-up has all the components to make for a huge fight. It’s for the Lightweight Championship; both fighters are extremely skilled; and there is a genuine dislike for each other. Should be a great main event.
Silva vs. Jardine
I’m really looking forward to the Wanderlei Silva/Keith Jardine match. Although Wanderlei is coming off three consecutive losses, they were against some of the top competitors in MMA: Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell. Wanderlei entered the Octagon for the first time in almost eight years when he fought Chuck Liddell at UFC 79. For a fight that had years of hype, speculation, and anticipation behind it, it almost lived up to expectations: an all-out war until someone got knocked out. If it would have happened when it was supposed to, when both were champions of their respective organizations, we might have got to see the knockout that never came. Nevertheless, Liddell won decisively, but not without the question mark of what would have happened if there were two more rounds.
On the flip side of that coin, Keith Jardine stepped up to the plate at UFC 76, and gave Liddell his second consecutive loss for the first time in his career. Jardine executed a perfect game plan by throwing off Chuck’s timing and scoring enough points to take the decision. Using MMA math, this would be an easy fight to pick. Jardine beat Liddell; Liddell beat Silva; therefore, Jardine should beat Silva. But that usually never works out so simply. Truth of the matter, this should be another stand up war as both fighters love to keep it on their feet and strike. I hope to see Silva come out with a little more aggression like he had when he dominated in the Pride ring. He seemed to be a little tentative against Liddell, perhaps due to the two consecutive knockout losses he suffered prior to fighting Liddell. If he can take the fight to Jardine with trademark ultra-aggressive style, much like Houston Alexander did when he knocked out Keith, I think we’ll see the return of “The Axe Murderer.”
Machida vs. Ortiz
This is the first Tito fight I’ve been looking forward to in a long time. It’s the last fight on Tito’s contract and he has stated publicly it will be his last fight in the UFC. Time will tell if that’s the case, but for now Tito has a highly talented and undefeated fighter by the name of Lyoto Machida to get through first. Machida is a very unorthodox fighter that has struggled not with winning but with being exciting while doing it. A loss by Tito in a boring match could hurt his attractiveness in free agency to potential suitors and is most likely what the UFC is hoping for.
Machida is tough, but Tito isn’t going to go quietly, so I think this match has the potential to be very exciting. A decisive Ortiz victory will certainly help his departure go more smoothly, but with the drawing power Tito has, it’s going to be damaging to the UFC win or lose.