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at any time. And his grappling isn't bad. He's got good trainers, he's kind of got all facets together and if he puts A to B (together) you're in trouble."

Bisping certainly had his way with Day at UFC 85 in June, overwhelming the hard nosed Albertan before putting him away at 3:42 of the first round.

Leben may have cleaned up his act outside the cage, but he still isn't above trying to push Bisping's buttons, quietly questioning his chin, conditioning and power although accusing someone of being a "scaredy cat" isn't exactly vintage trash talk.

Leben (18 4) presents a challenge. The 28 year old has a good chin, punches hard and has seemingly put a lid on past problems outside the cage.

Bisping is confident he can handle Leben before an expected sellout crowd of some 9,000 at the National Indoor Arena on Saturday (Rogers Sportsnet and Spike TV, check local listings).

The English fighter likes to press the pace, softening up opponents with knees in the clinch. And he is effective on top, delivering heavy blows from above.

"Chris is tough," said English welterweight Paul Taylor. "He can fire some shots, he can certainly take some shots. They've got evenly matched clinch and ground games . . . They're both very aggressive fighters, both come forward and that's their styles."

Both fighters are good company. Leben, for one, could host his own quirky talk show and has entertained here with his observations on British food "everything is meat pies and big sandwiches" and the hustle and bustle of his stay in London before coming to Birmingham.

Respected trainer Greg Jackson says Leben remains a work in progress.

Both fighters appear in top condition. The shorter Leben is a walking slab of muscle while Bisping is greyhound lean and sleek.

BIRMINGHAM, England With its location and proximity to next week's UFC 90, UFC 89 arrives slightly under the radar. Almost every North American outlet that covers mixed martial arts stayed home, some complaining that a Michael Bisping Chris Leben main event wasn't worth the transatlantic trip.

Bisping (17 1) could well find himself on Silva's dance card sooner than later. At 29, the former English kickboxer has filled holes in his fight game and hinted he can be a force at 185 pounds since moving down from light heavyweight. Still he has yet to be tested there. He has only fought Charles McCarthy and Canadian Jason (Dooms) Day, hardly a who's who of the middleweight division.

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Silva's manager Ed Soares confirms that the Brazilian title holder's goal has always been to retire at 35. Now 33, Silva is just 18 months away from that milestone. He has six fights left on his contract, the first of which is Oct. 25 against Montreal's Patrick Cote at UFC 90. Soares says Silva will fulfil that agreement and may keep fighting past 35.

A pair of English welterweights could figure in fight of the night honours. Taylor, a former kickboxing champion, meets American Chris (Lights Out) Lytle in what could be a standup blitzkrieg. And fellow Brit Paul Kelly, who showed nasty ground and pound in his UFC debut win over Taylor, will be tested by veteran American Marcus (The Irish Hand Grenade) Davis.

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fights that way. And he has. But this is not one of those opponents. . . . Chris will be ready to go at a much higher pace than Bisping is used to, for a much longer period of time than he's used to fighting."

"Bisping's biggest asset, the thing that he's done with most of his opponents is he's just kept the pace, paced himself until his opponents quit trying to fight back. And when you've got opponents that aren't conditioned and aren't ready to fight, then you can win a lot of Air Max 120 Retro

"I'm very good in that position," Bisping said. "When I got him (Day) down and stood over him, I finish a lot of fights Air Max 95 Safari On Feet

´╗┐Chris Leben and Michael Air Max 93 Blue Bisping win fans in leadup to UFC 89

"They're all in quite the rush. You walk out on the street and I'm trying to figure out where to go," said the Hawaiian based fighter. Bisping enthusiastically playing the role of dictator director is a sight to behold as he jokingly bellows at Jacko, a friend/videographer wielding a camera the size of a cigarette packet.

"I think he's just finding himself. The thing that's dangerous about him is he's got tons of heart and he can take you out Air Max Price Lebanon

in that position. Because people can't really prepare for that. There's not a lot you can do. I kind of move in an awkward unorthodox style down there and I don't stick to the traditions, if you will, when I'm doing the ground and pound."

Air Max 93 Blue

Air Max 93 Blue

"I think I have the physical ability to put him on the back foot, most definitely," Bisping said. "To be honest, I think I can do anything I want with him."

Rameau Sokoudjou, who has yet to live up to his nickname of The African Assassin in the UFC, has another chance to impress against Brazilian Luiz Cane, who battered Jason (The Punisher) Lambert last time out.

Keith (The Dean of Mean) Jardine meets Brandon (The Truth) Vera in a battle of light heavyweights who both need a win after each going 1 2 in their last three fights. It's an interesting style matchup with the unorthodox striking style of Jardine against the Thai boxing skills of Vera.

The UFC 89 card, however, grows on you. As do Bisping and Leben, two of the more charismatic fighters in the UFC stable.

"I think that's great if he's changed as a person. He's not drinking anymore and he's living a healthier lifestyle. More power to him. But when I watch him fight, I don't really see any difference at all, to be honest."

Leben can get your attention in a hurry, however. He seemed on his last legs against Terry Martin in the third round when he summoned a knockout blow from deep within. And he nailed Alessio Sakara last time out, earning knockout of the night honours at UFC 82.

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For Bisping, a healthy and motivated Leben represents a legitimate hurdle in the middleweight ranks. And in a division crying out for someone to challenge and possibly succeed Anderson Silva as champion, the UFC has high hopes for its British poster boy.

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There are other fights of interest on the card, although the event lost a marquee light heavyweight matchup between Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva due to injury to Silva.

He's convinced Bisping has met his match this time.

Air Max 93 Blue

Air Max 93 Blue

Leben says he has retooled since being dismantled by Silva six fights ago in June 2006. But Bisping is unconvinced.

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Leben may have an advantage in coaching with the highly regarded Matt Hume in his corner. The Seattle based trainer is considered one of the top strategists in the game, known for smart game plans.

Air Max 93 Blue

Air Max 93 Blue

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