There’s a lot of MMA on television this weekend.  Friday night will see a Strikeforce Challengers event air on Showtime, Bellator returns to MTV2 on Saturday night, and on Sunday night there’s the UFC’s fourth installment of combative goodness for the Versus cable network.  One has to wonder what life would’ve been like for MMA fans back before there was TV…  Would the radio broadcasts of these events have had families gathered together in their 1920s living rooms, listening intently?  Would Plains Indians have relayed fight results through smoke signals?  Would cavemen have left each other bout descriptions and analysis in the form of paintings on cave walls?  I don’t know.  But I do know that, as a modern fan of the sport, I’d be going out of mind if all this MMA was going down and I had no TV to watch it.  Anyway, here’s a preview for the UFC’s Sunday night event, UFC on Versus 4.  Enjoy!

Nate Marquardt vs. Rick Story – Last year Chris Leben defeated Aaron Simpson then returned two weeks later to submit Yoshihiro Akiyama.  This feat inspired Story, so now four weeks after his hard-fought win against Thiago Alves, he’s taking on former middleweight contender Marquardt in Marquardt’s first venture into welterweight land.  This could end in one of two ways: Story gets killed, or Story gets slaughtered.  Sure, “The Horror” managed an impressive win over a top guy in his last outing, but that was his first victory against a non-journeyman – and regardless of the weight class, Marquardt is the farthest thing from a journeyman.  It should also be noted that Marquardt’s MMA debut was in 1999; Story was fourteen-years old in 1999 and worrying about which Def Leppard T-shirt to wear to the freshman dance.  Yeah, “Nate the Great” is going to smash him.

Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry – Ever since he came into the UFC and ran into trouble facing grapplers, Kongo has done his best to transform himself into someone capable of wrestling and avoiding trouble on the ground.  Unfortunately, his kickboxing skills have suffered – which is a shame, because as a former Muay Thai champ, he could’ve really given the devout striker Barry hell on the feet.  Alas, we must prepare ourselves, for we shall be seeing a lot of hugging and a decision that fails to move us at all.

Matt Brown vs. John Howard – Brown has been on a downward slide of late, falling via submission to the likes of Ricardo Almeida, Chris Lytle and Brian Foster.  But he’s a banger when you let him be, and as Howard shares that trait… well, expect some banging in this one.  I give the edge to Howard, who, while not the best Muay Thai guy out there (Alves totally whooped him), can hit hard when he wants to.  And as his losing streak is two-fights long, you can bet he wants to.

Christian Morecraft vs. Matt Mitrione – Regardless of whatever psychosis the former NFL player displayed during his stint on “The Ultimate Fighter”, Mitrione has gone on to show some ever-improving boxing in each subsequent trip the Octagon.  Morecraft, on the hand, can boast as his biggest accomplishment a win by submission over Sean McCorkle.  Sean McCorkle.  You know, McCorkle is entertaining and all, but, uh, upon his name does not a resume make.  Watch for Mitrione to TKO Morecraft hella quick.

*Update: Well, it looks like Nate Marquardt is out.  Details are sketchy at this time – something about him failing to receive medical clearance.  In his place steps in Charlie Brenneman, a Pennsylvania native who trains out of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey (home of Dan and Jim Miller, and a bunch of other badasses).  Consequently, the heavyweight clash between Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry is now the main event.

So what does Brenneman bring to the table?  He’s got great wrestling and takedowns, usually has solid conditioning, not much of a slugger and eschews getting hit.  But he’s tough.  This is an easier match-up for Story than Marquardt would’ve been because of the experience difference; however, it won’t be a cakewalk.  Brenneman once competed and won on that SpikeTV show “Pros vs. Joes”.  I don’t know if that translates into any sort of edge, but it’s a pretty cool fact you can drop on your friends.