UFC 88 predictions

NEIL SPRINGER -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 9:59 PM ET

At one point the most dominant 205-pound fighter in the UFC, Chuck Liddell returns to the Octagon to continue his ascent back to the light-heavyweight title. However, in his way stands the undefeated Rashad Evans.

When we last saw Liddell, he was engaged in an epic war with Wanderlei Silva, a battle that resulted in a unanimous-decision victory over the tough Brazilian. After being side-lined with a torn hamstring, 'The Iceman' is back and ready to mix it up again. But can Liddell return to his former glory or has time passed him by?

Also, Rich Franklin moves up to the light-heavyweight division and Dan Henderson looks to get back on track after his loss to Anderson Silva.

PPV fight card and predictions

Martin Kampmann (13-1-0) vs. Nate Marquardt (26-8-2)

Before injuring his knee in mid-2007, Kampmann was on the cusp of a title shot. After quickly dispatching Jorge Rivera in his first post-injury fight, he again finds himself primed for the big-time.

In his way stands the very dangerous and well-rounded Nate Marquardt. But for every challenge his opponent poses, Kampmann should have an answer. Boasting a strong stand-up and ground game, he should be able to take the fight no matter how Marquardt wants to play it.

Prediction: Kampmann by second round KO/TKO

Dan Henderson (22-7-0) vs. Rousimar Palhares (8-1-0)

Henderson has had a rough go of it since his return to the UFC last year. First, he lost a close decision to Quinton Jackson and then was submitted by Anderson Silva. Losing to two of the best fighters in the world is nothing to be ashamed of, but he absolutely needs a win here.

Palhares is a dangerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter. He's also deceptively strong and has great takedowns. If this goes to the ground, it benefits the Brazilian Top Team member.

However, the heavy-handed Henderson has all the tools to keep Palhares standing. If he can avoid being taken down, he should be able knock Palhares out.

It's a toss up, but I can't say no to Hendo.

Prediction: Henderson by second round KO/TKO.

Karo Parisyan (18-5-0) has injured his back and pulled out of his scheduled match with Yoshiyuki Yoshida (10-2-0).

Yoshida will not compete on the show. Dong Hyun Kim vs. Matt Brown will replace the fight on the PPV card.

Rich Franklin (23-3-0) vs. Matt Hamill (4-1-0)

Tired of playing second fiddle to Anderson Silva at middleweight, Rich Franklin is looking to make a mark in the light-heavyweight division. He's got a tough challenge ahead of him, however.

Hamill is an aggressive, hard-hitting wrestler who doesn't know the meaning of the word 'quit.' If he can keep the pressure on Franklin he might pull out the upset. However, 'Ace' is dangerous from any position and very crafty when he needs to be.

Expect Franklin to weather the early storm and take control of the fight.

Prediction: Franklin by decision.

Chuck Liddell (21-5-0) vs. Rashad Evans (11-0-1)

No matter how much the UFC pushes Rashad Evans, I just don't buy him as a top contender in the light-heavyweight division. However, he has the opportunity to shut me and all the other naysayers up tonight.

Unfortunately, Liddell's style is tailor made for wrestlers like Evans. By using his own wrestling credentials, the Iceman will avoid any takedowns and keep the fight standing until he puts his opponent away.

Evans is a competent striker, but he's nowhere near Liddell's level.

Prediction: Liddell by second round KO/TKO

Join me Sat., Sept. 6 at 10 p.m. EST for live coverage of UFC 88: Breakthrough.

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