Georges "Rush" St. Pierre (19-2) vs. Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy (23-6)
•Story line: Brash, colorful, trash-talking British brawler challenges soft-spoken Canadian titleholder who happens to be one of the world's best pound-for-pound fighters.
•Case for St. Pierre: Outstruck, outwrestled and outgrappled every challenger over the last 2½ years. Wrestling is practically irresistible; statistics compiled by MMA analysis site FightMetric indicate he has had successful takedowns in every fight in which he attempted them. Why should this one be any different?
•Case for Hardy: Good counterpuncher. Power in both hands. Getting some tips from Matt Serra, the last man to beat St. Pierre.
•Pick: St. Pierre. Hardy is a formidable fighter, but St. Pierre towers over the 170-pound division at the moment. Knowing that Serra is in Hardy's corner might actually boost the titleholder's confidence. St. Pierre blew away Serra the last time they fought. And St. Pierre has been training lately with Serra's jiu-jitsu mentor, Renzo Gracie.
Interim heavyweight championship
Frank Mir (13-4) vs. Shane Carwin (11-0)
•Story line: Saturday's winner gets the showdown he truly wants. Mir has been raging against Brock Lesnar since the heavyweight titlist crushed him in July and rubbed it in with insults immediately afterward. Carwin later saw his bout with Lesnar postponed and then canceled because of the champion's lengthy illness.
•Case for Mir: Better jiu-jitsu, more refined boxing, intelligent game planner. Adding almost 20 pounds of muscle over the last six months should help against bigger heavyweights.
•Case for Carwin: No matter how much bulk Mir puts on, Carwin will have more as long as he maintains his current fitness. Massive power, superior wrestling, smart and calm fighter.
•Pick: Carwin, but not by much. He has the power and wrestling ability to replicate the game plan that Lesnar used to bludgeon Mir on the ground, and a maturity that keeps him calm in bad situations. But Carwin isn't as explosive as Lesnar, and Mir might be able to keep Carwin off balance with clever footwork, counterstrikes and well-placed uppercuts and knees when the bigger man tries to close the distance for the takedown.
Jon Fitch (24-3-1) vs. Ben Saunders (8-1-2)
•Story line: This was supposed to be a matchup of the top two welterweights after St. Pierre, not to mention two of the champion's last three victims. But Thiago Alves was pulled from the card after a pre-fight medical exam. Saunders, who was supposed to face Jake Ellenberger, moved up for a shot at the veteran contender.
•Case for Fitch: Superior wrestler with excellent conditioning. Once he gets atop opponents on the mat, they rarely escape. Can take punishment. Has beaten most every welterweight contender. St. Pierre is the only man to beat him in a UFC fight.
•Case for Saunders: Knockout power and decent grappling skills. Has momentum from his last fight, a first-round knockout against Marcus Davis, who had taken Hardy to a split decision in June.
•Pick: Fitch. Saunders will be praised for stepping in at the last minute, but Fitch has the edge in experience and ground skills.
Nate Diaz (11-5) vs. Rory Markham (16-5)
•Story line: After winning his first five UFC fights, Diaz lost three of four and hopes to revive his career by moving up to the 170-pound division. Markham needs a revival of his own; he hasn't fought since suffering a brutal knockout 13 months ago by Hardy.
•Case for Diaz: Fights like a lightweight clone of older sibling Nick: Constant patter of light punches racks up points and wears down opponents. Active and creative with jiu-jitsu.
•Case for Markham: Devastating striker with sound overall game.
•Pick: Diaz. Has never been knocked out in a professional fight. Long reach and high-volume punching confounds most opponents on the feet. His biggest weakness, wrestling defense, likely won't be a concern because of Markham's penchant for head hunting.
“It’s really hard to take an angry man seriously when he’s wearing a bathrobe.” - Carl Fogarty