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UFC 102 Preview: Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt

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Season one of The Ultimate Fighter provided the UFC with some very talented fighters. Perhaps no character, however, was more memorable than Chris "The Crippler" Leben. This 29 year old middleweight has had his ups and downs in the years since. He served a little jail time following a DUI and, after last October's decision loss to Michael Bisping, tested positive for a banned substance. Leben is living and working as an instructor in Hawaii now and training there full-time. This opportunity at UFC 102 is a defining moment for him, competing in front of his Pacific Northwest home crowd. Leben is a heavy handed striker and has shown a fairly good chin thus far in his career. Leben's professional record is 18-6 with ten wins coming by way of knockout and four wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 71.0%.

27-year-old Jake Rosholt was considered a decent signing by Zuffa. Rosholt was an exceptionally talented wrestler, winning an incredible three national championships at Oklahoma State. After defeating Nissen Osterneck in the WEC, Rosholt was called up to the UFC to take on Dan Miller on a SPIKE TV televised card. Jake lost that match by an early first round submission. If Rosholt can continue to perfect his craft and continue learning to avoid submissions, he could potentially be a dangerous middleweight. Jake's professional record is 5-1 with four wins coming by way of knockout and one win coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 68.0%.

Chris Leben has more experience and a bigger punch. The experience factor, especially, could come into play in this one. I've seen enough of Leben to know most of what he has to offer. I still have some questions about Rosholt after only having seen him fight twice. I'm going to take a gamble on this one, however, and pick Rosholt. I think that we'll see him effectively use his wrestling to stifle Leben and do some damage on the ground. Chris is not a bad grappler himself and is difficult to keep down but I see Jake effectively implementing his strategy over three rounds. My prediction: Rosholt by decision.