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UFC 102 Preview and Predictions: The Main Card

ufc 102A battle between undisputed legends of the fight game highlights another UFC card that promises not to disappoint.

UFC 102 is slated for this Saturday evening, August 29, from the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon, and will air live on pay-per-view.

While promoters went with the “Couture vs. Nogueira” theme as the event title, it very well could have been named “U.S. vs. Brazil” as three of the main card bouts pit dangerous Brazilians against some of America’s finest, with two additional bouts on the undercard also fitting the bill.

Outside of the previously noted main event, UFC 102 will feature intriguing showdowns between the likes of Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia, Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva, and many more.

Come along as I throw my two cents in on some of the factors to keep an eye on heading into this card, and give my predictions on the bout outcomes.

RANDY COUTURE VS. ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA

I feel like this fight would have been better served a few years ago, but things don’t play out the way they should in this fight game. With that being said, the main event between Couture and Nogueira is absolutely deserving of its headline status due to the fact that neither man are known for being anything less than crowd-pleasing throughout their many years in the sport.

Nogueira has one obvious key to victory in this fight, the submission. While the submission may be the key to victory for Nogueira, don’t think for a second that the canvas is his turf. Couture has just a good of a chance stopping the fight on the mat as Nogueira does, if not better. Couture could very well mash Big Nog up with elbows from the top position and force an early stoppage. Just one possible avenue to victory for the multi-weight class UFC champion. If Nogueira’s been studying the tapes of Randy getting tapped in bouts with Valentijn Overeem and Enson Inoue, he had better check the date on those tapes because Couture hasn’t been submitted in close to a decade. Of course there are those that would contend that Captain America has never been up against a submission artist as dangerous as Nogueira… and they’re right. I just think the sport has evolved past the point when Nogueira was slapping triangles on everyone in PRIDE. His riddle has been solved.

If the fight goes to the ground, expect for Couture to take the Fedor Emelianenko approach to ground and pounding the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Leaving him no room to breathe and overwhelming him with shots designed to cause serious damage. While knocking Nogueira out on the canvas is not the most likely outcome, the allowance of elbows makes a cut stoppage very likely in this bout.

Ideally Couture would prefer to have this fight standing. Nogueira was dropped with punches in the Mir fight he would have laughed at in the past, and something must be said abut that. It’s in my personal opinion that the many wars Antonio has waged throughout his historic career have finally caught up with him. Not that he’s done being competitive, but in my opinion, he’s done being competitive in the upper levels of the UFC. We’ll see Saturday night.

Winner: Couture via TKO (possibly on cuts)

KEITH JARDINE VS. THIAGO SILVA

I don’t think it would come as too much of a shock to people if Silva tries to jump on Jardine really early in this one. He’s shown an ability to get caught cold in the past, and Thiago would be foolish not to test the waters with Jardine almost immediately. Once you let a guy like Jardine get in a groove, he can be extremely difficult to beat. Just ask Chuck Lidell, Brandon Vera and Quinton Jackson. Sure, Rampage was awarded with the unanimous decision, but Jardine made it anything but an easy road for the former UFC champ, demonstrating he has the tools to make any fighters night a long one under the right circumstances.

Regardless, this fight will be fun while it lasts. Silva’s tenacious style will not allow Jardine to get comfortable, and it should end up making this fight. Depending on how Marquardt vs. Maia pans out, we could very well have a fight of the night on our hands in this one.

If it ends in the first, Silva wins by TKO, if it goes to the second, it’s all Jardine.

Winner: Jardine via TKO

CHRIS LEBEN VS. JAKE ROSHOLT

Both of these fighters have huge question marks over their heads going into this fight. For Leben, outside of whether or not his urinalysis will come back clean this time around, he has to prove that he truly belongs in the UFC. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve long been a fan of Leben and his never say die attitude in the cage, but recent losses to Kalib Starnes and Michael Bisping have left the Hawaii resident with something to prove in the Octagon. Namely, that he belongs, and if he can’t get past Rosholt, there’s no reason to think that he does.

Rosholt’s in the same boat as Leben, just under far different circumstances. While not nearly as established in the Octagon, Rosholt desperately needs to prove he’s where he belongs following a first round submission defeat to Dan Miller in the former star wrestler’s UFC debut in February of 2009. I’m sure Rosholt has focused on his shortcomings in the many months he’s been away from the cage, and I fully expect for him to be the best we’ve ever seen him. Rosholt’s no dummy, he knows what’s at stake in this one.

While I don’t think for a second that Leben can’t catch Rosholt with a submission, I feel like his most likely key to victory is going to be the old fashioned “punch to the face”. I didn’t like how easily Rosholt was rocked in his last fight with the WEC against Nissen Osterneck, and while you can train defense, you can’t train a chin. If Leben puts a good one on Rosholt’s kisser we could have a quick finish to this one.

However, Rosholt is the caliber of wrestler rarely seen in the UFC, or all of MMA for that matter, and you can never discredit that extremely relevant factor. If Rosholt wins this fight, it’s not going to be pretty, but it’s still a fight he can win. He just better not forget where he came from. Not for one moment.

Winner: Leben via Knockout

NATE MARQUARDT VS. DEMIAN MAIA

This has been a personal dream fight of mine for close to a year now, so needless to say, this will be the one fight I will be looking forward to the most this Saturday evening. In my opinion both of these guys are the clear cut number one and number two challengers in the middleweight division. Both with a very legitimate chance of upsetting Anderson Silva in the future due to a variety of different circumstances regarding both men. Silva has shown he can be subbed, Maia is a phenom on the ground. With Marquardt, he has grown tremendously in a variety of ways since his previous encounter with “The Spider”, most notably with his top game, striking and knockout power.

While Marquardt is well schooled in the art of submissions, nobody wants to get caught rolling around on the mat with someone like Maia. I think Marquardt’s submission defense is well above average, but much like Anderson, Nate has shown a vulnerability to submission attacks in the past as well. Maia could submit anyone walking the planet earth given the proper amount of time on the ground, and Marquardt knows this.

Look for Marquardt to come out intelligently dropping bombs with bad intentions. He’s going to keep the distance and make it count when he can. Due to his tremendous size and strength for the weight class, Marquardt’s takedown defense will serve him well against Maia where it hasn’t others in the past. On the feet it’s not even close. Marquardt will show how “really good at a lot of things” trumps “awesome at one thing” every time.

Winner: Marquardt via TKO

BRANDON VERA VS. KRZYSZTOF SOSZYNSKI

A few years ago I would have laughed if a fight between these two had been proposed. While both had been competing in the heavyweight division at the time, the contrast in the fighter’s career’s was like night and day. Where Vera was an undefeated wrecking machine that seemed hopeful to make good on a promise to obtain the UFC heavyweight belt before dropping down to 205 and doing the same, and Soszynki was at the time suffering a series of losses, time has gone a long way in restructuring the career of these two.

Now it’s Soszynski with the momentum, coming off of three impressive stoppages in the Octagon, while Vera is eager to reassert himself as a force since dropping down to light-heavyweight after suffering his own series of defeats. To make matters worse, Vera has recently rekindled the “champion at two weight classes” jibberish.

I think it’s extremely unlikely that we see Vera as a champion of two weight classes outside of a regional show anytime in the near future. In fact, I believe Soszynksi will do enough in this bout to substantially dampen Vera’s current 205 pound championship illusion. It should be an entertaining bout with both men landing their fair share of exchanges, but I feel like Krzysztof’s momentum and wrestling will be the deciding factors in the bout.

Winner: Soszynski via Decision

For Prelim Preview and Predictions Click Here

33 COMMENTS
  • BigDave says:

    Cory I must say this time round I’m almost with you 100% The only place I differ is the winner of the Maia/Marquardt fight. Yes Nate has the better stand up and Maia is one of the absolute best I have ever seen on the ground in any weight class period. Although things could very well go the way you see it I feel that Maia has a good enough chin to take a shot to be able to get inside and if it goes to the ground atol Nate or anyone on the mat against Maia’s night is over.

    Maia in my opinion is the only man in the UFC at the moment that I would have as a favorite over Silva, and mark my words i see Maia being the the champ by next spring at the latest.

    Good predictions though you are right on the money for the most part in my opinion.

  • fraz says:

    Very good analysis.
    I’ve got Nog by submission in rnd 3, but I agree with the rest of your picks.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    I’m almost against you 100%, Marquadt is the only one I think you got fully right.

    “Couture has just a good of a chance stopping the fight on the mat as Nogueira does”
    ummm…Couture has finished about 9 people in his entire career! Nog has finished about 22 and submitted 20! including Herring, Crocop and Hendo, so I disagree there because Couture prolly finishes the least out of most top HWs. So Nog via submission or Couture via decision.
    I think Vera will destroy his opponent and Rosholt will take Leben down and beat the crap out of him for 3 rds. I will also pick Silva over Jardine via KO.

  • shotokai_ says:

    “Not that he’s done being competitive, but in my opinion, he’s done being competitive in the upper levels of the UFC.”
    Well put, and agreed.

    “Marquardt will show how ”really good at a lot of things” trumps “awesome at one thing” every time.”
    Although I generally agree, try telling that to Frank Mir and Randy Couture (r.e. their losses to Lesnar).

  • fraz says:

    This actually makes for a GREAT main card. All five fights could go either way. (Obviously any fight on any card could go either way, but hopefully you know what I mean). Vegas shows no huge favorites in any of the fights which means that people (and their money) are generally split on who they believe win.

    Looking forward to tomorrow night!

  • shotokai_ says:

    Am I the only that thinks Thiago Silva is overrated? Yeah he is 13-1 and looks big and scary but when I dissect his record I find myself thinking its not really all that impressive. His biggest stength is his BJJ which he is good but not great at. Aside from that he has some powerful, but technically quite sloppy, Muay Thai stand up, and a mean looking face.
    Strangely, before he got the call up to the UFC, only TWO fighters that he beat held positive MMA records. One was Dave Dagleish (who is 30-18, and he won by Heel Hook – Dagleish has 10 submission losses) and the other was Vitor Vianna who he beat when Vianna injured his arm.

    In the UFC he has beaten;
    James Irvin by way of horrible, freak knee injury (a fight in which Irvin actually had Silva down).
    Tomasz Drwal – by far his biggest career win. Of Silva’s 13 victories Drwal is the only one I would call a legit LHW.
    Houston Alexander by mounted ground and pound – enough said.
    Antonio Mendes by TKO after originally getting rocked in the fight. Mendes has left the UFC and is currently on a four fight losing streak.

    And he got absolutely beaten down by Lyota Machida. Machida is obviously a beast, but he still beat Thiago down worse, and with more ease, than any of his other UFC opponents. David Heath fared better than Thiago Silva.

    Am I being over analytical? Probably. But what other ways do we have to assess fighters other than on there in ring performances and the men they have beaten. Aside from the Drwal fight Silva has never impressed me in the octagon. In my opinion he is a man with a relatively limited skill set (relative to the upper levels of LHW in the UFC) that looks like a bad-ass dude. Based on this I think that Keith Jardine is going to school him on Saturday night, culminating in a second round TKO.

    My predictions are as follows;

    RANDY COUTURE via Unanimous Decision.

    KEITH JARDINE via TKO, 2nd Round.

    ROSHOLT via Unanimous Decision.

    NATE MARQUARDT via TKO, 1st Round.

    SOSZYNSKI via Split Decision.

  • KTru says:

    I do not see Couture finishing Nog
    I do not see Nog finishing Couture
    Due to “Octagon control” Randy wins by a slim margin over Nog

    I want Jardine to win, but see this fight similar to Wand/Jardine
    Silva 1st RD TKO

    I like both fighters, both respectful and talented. I do think Nate is already eying a rematch with Silva and I think his ego will cost him as he gets on the ground with arguably the greatest BJJ practitioner in all of MMA.
    Maia 2nr RD Triangle

    Am I the only one that thinks Leben is in a world of trouble? He has the experience and the one-punch KO power, but I feel he will be pressured and on his back much of the fight and Rosholt will have a career-defining win
    Rosholt vis UD

    Sos v Vera, two guys that have a lot of confidence in their ability. I wish Sos had a full camp coming into this fight, for it would help out even more. Vera has always came across as a tool to me. His arrogance is and will be his biggest downfall.
    Sos 3rd RD TKO G’n’P

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Shotokai you said it correctly, I have been wondering for a while why he is so overrated, espacially after Mendes almost beat him it appeared as he had no chin. Then Machida wipes him out easily. He is a o k fighter but nowhere near a top guy yet, maybe that lose to Machida will help him though, but I am rooting for Jardine here for sure.

  • fanoftna33 says:

    I like the pick in this article except I see Leben winning by submission.

  • Cory Brady says:

    shotokai – “Although I generally agree, try telling that to Frank Mir and Randy Couture (r.e. their losses to Lesnar)”

    Good point, but I generally view Mir and Couture as “awesome at one thing” fighters as well. Couture’s awesome at wrestling, but not really spectacular anywhere else. Mir is awesome at submissions, but his wrestling is lacking and stand-up is way overrated imho. I personally feel that there are a bunch of heavyweights in the UFC that are awesome at one thing. Brock, Randy, Nog, Mir, Velasquez. There are a few heavyweights out there that are really good at everything, just not many.

  • xtreme_machine says:

    Couture – TKO @ 2nd
    Jardine – Unanimous Decision
    Maia – Submission @ 2nd
    Leben – KO @ 1st
    Vera – Split Decision

  • edub says:

    Gentleman and ladies heres the digs.

    Couture by dec in a great fight.
    Silva by KO(Went with my gut here. I think itll be similar to the Wanderlei fight.)
    Marquardt by tko or dec.
    Rosholt by dec.(upset city)
    Vera by KO (crushing first round KO to be exact.)

  • edub says:

    On a side note Cory you dont think Hendo or Okami should be ahead of either Nate or Maia. I kinda think the latter should be Okami, Hendo, Nate, Maia myself right now.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Mir gave Couture a road map for beating ‘Nog. Hit him, hurt him, and keep him standing. Don’t clinch and for pity’s sake don’t go to the ground. Couture might not have the punching power to hurt ‘Nog, might not have the size to push him away from a clinch, and probably won’t resist the urge to grapple. Could go either way, imo, but I think it’ll be a decision.

  • nope says:

    shotokai +1

    Does anyone think Leben should’ve dropped to 170 a couple years ago?

    it always seems like he’s carrying way to much weight.

    Agreed on the article, but i think Vera pulls this win. Sos might be runnin on a bit of high. Vera is a step up from Gusmao and Stann.

  • meatloaf says:

    Angry Mike “Mir gave Couture a road map for beating ‘Nog.”

    Mir didn’t give anyone a road map to anything. The reality is Big Nog is just about done. He’s taken way too much abuse over the years.
    Word is he’s been dropped several times in training. He might go the distance, but as crazy as it may sound at 46 years old Couture should have his way with Nog.

    As for Silva/Jardine even if he loses after seeing his wife Thiago Silva is still going to be a winner.

  • Angry Mike says:

    @meatloaf:

    Regrettably, you may be right about the wear and tear on ‘Nog. Regardless, clinching or grappling with him at this time would be a mistake, imo. Like Mir, Couture should try striking with ‘Nog to test his chin. If you’re right and ‘Nog’s chin is diminished, that’s the best way for Couture to win.

    Off topic, but another site is reporting that Couture recently filed for divorce from Kim. Wonder how that will affect him.

  • “Off topic, but another site is reporting that Couture recently filed for divorce from Kim. Wonder how that will affect him.”

    That’s sorta old news.

    I dunno if the actual divorce proceedings are new but they’ve been separated for months.

  • hall says:

    Im going for NOG on this one. I have watched NOG fight for years and only seen him knocked out by mir and rocked by herring. Usually he’s good at taking shots. I mean look at his fight wid Bob Sapp. Bob beat the crap out of NOG but still NOG won by submision NOG took some hard shots to the head but he hung in there. You know that might be why he cant take a hit now HA HA! Na but really I hope he wins. But if Randy wins I’ll be happy for him also. I LOVE MMA HOW CAN YOU NOT! GOOD LUCK TO ALL THE FIGHTERS

  • edub says:

    Im changing my Silva pick to Jardine by tko.

  • JollyDV says:

    No updates or chat for the site tonight not sure why so I am posting them here.

  • JollyDV says:

    MARCUS AURELIO VS. EVAN DUNHAM

    Round 1 – An intense staredown as the fighters get final instructions. A touch of gloves gets the evening’s first contest underway. Dunham looks to work a combo early. The two dance and trade right hands. Dunham the early aggressor. Aurelio parrying and just misses with a heavy counter right. Aurelio lands a lead right, but Dunham answers with a jab. Two minutes in, and Aurelio is now initiating more action. Dunham lands a 1-2 that backs Aurelio against the cage, but he quickly slips away. Dunham lands a left hand that drops Aurelio, and he charges in with a flurry on the ground, Several shots connect, and Aurelio is hurt. Aurelio hangs on, and Dunham briefly settles into guard before standing up and motioning Aurelio to do the same. Aurelio looks to shoot, but Dunham sprawls. Aurelio throws a few wild shots before an unsuccessful takedown attempt. Aurelio appears recovered with a minute remaining. Aurelio wings a few wild rights, but Dunham scores with a straight left. Dunham ends with a flurry and easily takes the first, 10-9,

  • JollyDV says:

    Round 2 – Aurelio comes out with the first punch, then another missed takedown. Dunham slips and scores with a few straight left hands. Another left backs Aurelio up. “Maximus” looking for the takedown again, but Dunham defends. Aurelio finally lands a right hand, and he takes Dunnham down against the cafe. Aurelio takes half-mount, and Dunham eats a few punches with his arms trapped. Dunham shakes free and returns to his feet. Aurelio breathing hard, and Dunham scores with a left hand down the middle. Aurelio lands a wild right hook, and a follow up catches Dunham in the eye. Dunham winces and gets a brief respite. Aurelio moves in on the restart. Dunham pushes away from a clinch. Two minutes left in the round. Aureio stalking, but Dunham answers with several hard punches and a kick. Dunham misses with a left haymaker, and Aurelio ducks in and works for a takedown. Dunham sprawls and defends, then pushes away. Dunham lands a kick to the legs. Dunham scores with a right hand and narrowly misses with a high kick. Aurelio slowing, though Dunham still looks fresh as time expires. Closer round, but Dunham takes it

  • JollyDV says:

    Round 3 – Aurelio immediately shoots in and Dunham pulls guard. Aurelio works to pass with his legs as Dunham holds tight with his arms. Dunham throws a few elbows on bottom, and Aurelio answers from top. Dunham’s head trapped on the cage, and Aurelio passes to half-mount, then swings out to north-south. Dunham stands during the transition, then drops to a knee as Aurelio looks for a guillotine choke. Aurelio squeezes tight with an arm-in guillotine, then drops and rolls to tighten the hold. Dunham lasts the hold, escapes and stands. The crowd cheers wildly, and the pair trades wildly in the center. Aurelio shoots in again. Dunham defends, but he’s forced to his knees. Aurelio picks the ankle and eventually forces Dunham to his back. Dunham scrambles and stands with 90 seconds remaining. This time Dunham shoots in and works the fight to the floor. They stay there only briefly. Wild swings by both fighters with under a minute. Aurelio shoots in again, but Dunham sprawls. Dunham lands a high kick, and the pair is toe-to-toe for the final 10 seconds. Great opening fight, and the crowd shows their appreciation.

  • JollyDV says:

    Evan Dunham def. Marcus Aurelio via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).

  • JollyDV says:

    MARK MUNOZ VS. NICK CATONE

    Round 1 – Urijah Faber cageside as the action begins. A quick touch of gloves gets us started. Munoz works immediately to the clinch, though Catne backs him tot he cage, works his arms free and lands a few hard shots. Munoz backs away and shoots in, taking Catone down, but only momentarily. Munoz misses a jab and Catone cores with a counter right. Munoz lands a heavy rihgt, then moves in for another clinch. Munoz lands a knee inside, then just misses with an elbow as he backs away. Catone pumps a jab but caches an inadvertant low blow in the exchange. Replays show the left low kick scored directly on the cup. Catone rests briefly, the jumps back in with three minutes remaining. Munoz misses a punch, and Catone ducks under and works him to the floor. Catone takes side control and throws several knees to Munoz’s right side. Munoz tries to roll free, and turns Catone by grabbing his leg and rolling. The two stand, Munoz at the rear. Catone lands a back elbow, but Munoz dumps him on the floor. Catone stands immediately back up. One minute remains, and Catone lands a flurry. Munoz misses a takedown, and the two again clinch. The pair trades knees as time expires, and Catone works it to the floor as time expires. Close round,

  • JollyDV says:

    Round 2 – Catone opens the second with a few quick shoots. Catone shoots in, walking into a Munoz knee, but the blow doesn’t faze him as he finishes the shot. Catone works to side control, then to the back as Munoz rolls. Munoz stands, and Catone lands a knee on the break. Munoz moves forward again into a clinch. and with double underhooks works Catone to the mat. He pops immediately back up, and Munoz releases the hold. Liytle less bounce by both fighters with three minutes remaining. An exchange of punches mostly misses. Munoz works for angles, but Catone lands the heavy shot that wobbles Munoz Munoz wobbles. TOugh to tell if he’s feigning, and Catone does not rush in. Munoz clinches and drags Catone to the floor. Catone again stands, though Munoz is the one that lands the knee this time. Munoz again shoves Catone to the cage, and he lands a nice right hand. Munoz takes a second to clean his feet, and Catone allows it. Catone lands another nice right hand. Munoz answers, then narrowly misses a homerun shot. Munoz grabs a guillotine choke as Catone drops to his knees. Referee Yves Lavigne watches closely, but Munoz releases and resorts to a headlock. The round ends, and though Catone had a few stunning shots,

  • JollyDV says:

    Round 3 – Smattering of applause as the third round starts. Munoz looks a little but livelier, and he narrowly misses on a single-leg. Munoz lands a punch as he pulls away. Munoz looks comfortable on his feet, though Catone snaps a jab to his nose. Catone misses with a few hard shots, and Munoz ducks under for a shot. Catone slips away, narrowly missing a hard right hand. Munoz looking to attack from the feet, but Catone using decent footwork to escape. Munoz grabs hold of the head, dropping down while looking for a guillotine. Catone jumps to the side and Munoz is forced to release it. Catone tries to grab an ankle lock, but Munoz slips free and spins t top position. Munoz backs away and lands a nice 1-2, but Catone backs away and shoots in. Catone works to the back, though he’s too high as Munoz stands and shucks him off. Munoz falls into Catone’s guard, then quickly works out to half-mount. One minute remains, and Munoz moves out to side control. Catone turtles, and Munoz passes on a chance to work in a choke in favor of control and a barrage of right hands. Munoz switches to left hands as Catone tries to slip free. Munoz’s wrestling background helps him to hold Catone down for the remainder of the round, delivering a few solid punches to the hand and taking the fight

  • JollyDV says:

    Mark Munoz def. Nick Catone via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).

  • JollyDV says:

    TODD DUFFEE VS. TIM HAGUE

    Round 1 – eferee Mario Yamasaki gets the two massive heavyweights started.

  • JollyDV says:

    That is referee Mario Yamasaki

  • JollyDV says:

    Dufee lands a stiff jab as Hague opens an attack. The blow drops Hague immediately. Duffee pounces, and a flurry of blows follow. Some miss, but a big left hand on the ground doesn’t. Yamasaki is forced to jump in, and Duffee earns the rapid stoppage. Todd Duffee def. Tim Hague via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:07.

  • JollyDV says:

    Hope we get to see this one on replay!!!

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