Classic scraps in Montreal

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 5:14 AM ET

The UFC returns to Montreal's Bell Centre tonight.

And the timing couldn't be worse.

By the time the second undercard begins, most of the city will be glued to Game 2 of the Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins NHL playoff series.

Despite the heavy competition, the sold-out show looks set to deliver some classic scraps.

Here are the Scrapyard predictions for UFC 97: Redemption.

- Middleweight champ Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites: Only a fool would go out on a limb on this one. Silva has destroyed everyone in his path since coming to the UFC. He is looking for his ninth consecutive win and record-tying seventh title defence. Leites has great jiu-jitsu, but the striking power of Silva should prevail.

Prediction: Silva by second-round TKO.

- Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio (Shogun) Rua: With losses in three of his last four fights, this may be the last chance for former light-heavyweight champ Liddell to prove he still belongs in the UFC. He is under pressure from UFC prez Dana White to not only win, but win in impressive fashion. Rua hasn't looked good since coming over from Pride, but says he's healthy and ready after an underwhelming win over Mark Coleman. Both of these guys like to finish fights, so it should make for a good slugfest.

Prediction: Liddell will answer the pressure with a first-round TKO.

- Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Brian Stann: Winnipeg's Soszynski couldn't have a worse matchup. All six of Stann's wins (against one loss) have come by KO, and most of Soszynski's eight losses have come the same way. That said, the Team Quest fighter will be the fan favourite and the additional motivation of not being Stann's stepping stone from the WEC to the big show should carry Soszynski to victory.

Prediction: Soszynski by third-round submission.

- Cheick Kongo vs. Antoni Hardonk: Hardonk has won his last three fights by KO and Kongo -- despite his impressive physical appearance -- looks unsure of himself at times. Both guys are sluggers and neither wants to take this fight to the ground.

Prediction: Hardonk in an upset, by second-round KO.

- Luis Cane vs. Steve Cantwell: This should be a pretty even fight with a slight edge to Cane. The Brazilian will be looking for a knockout, while Cantwell likes ending his fights with armbars. Cane is favoured by the bookies, but you can flip a coin on this one.

Prediction: Cane by third-round KO.

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The Canadians should clean up in the undercard. Look for Vancouver's Denis Kang, Alberta's Jason MacDonald, Toronto's Mark Bocek, London's Sam Stout and Montreal's David Loiseau to all win their matches.

jose.rodriguez@sunmedia.ca


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