Since I’ve started to change things up a bit in this blog, I thought I’d continue in that vein with my first “Preview and Predictions” post. UFC 102 takes place at the weekend and the card is pretty good, even if there is only one “marquee” name (in the shape of Randy Couture) to appeal to the casual fan, for those die-hard MMA fans there is a lot on offer with this card.
Before I get to it, check out the poster I attached. I don’t think it is the official event poster and I don’t know who created it, but it’s quality – like a really old school boxing poster. Maybe the UFC should get a bit more creative with their event posters rather than the usual glossy black affair they churn out.
Interestingly on this weekends card all fights take place at Middleweight and above. I’m a huge fan of the lighter weight fighters, they are generally faster, more athletic and often make more exciting fights than their counterparts in the heavier divisions. However some would argue that as the weights get heavier then so does the power of the punches and the likelihood of seeing fights end in big KO’s increases which is always exciting to watch too. There is also a great match for the grappling fans in the shape of Maia vs Marquadt here too, if you aren’t only interested in seeing people get KTFO’d.
So here’s my preview and picks starting off with the undercard fights:
Middleweight: Ed Herman vs Aaron Simpson
On paper Herman looks nailed on for a win here with his 20-7-0 record against Simpsons 4-0-0 record with only one of those fights in the ufc (a KO of Tim McKenzie at UFN18). Herman is coming off a decision win against David Loiseau and isnt known for his striking, with most of his wins coming by submission. Simpson on the other hand has won all his fights with first round stoppages so this could be a short night for Herman if that trend continues. Herman has hometown advantage here and the clear edge in experience but I think ginger people are the devils spawn, and being the devils spawn with a really crap fight nickname means I couldnt possibly pick Herman to win, even though my head says he probably will. Instead I’m going with my gut and predicting that Simpson will continue to knock mofos out, but will just take a little longer to do it tonight. Simpson T/KO round 1
Heavyweight: Todd Duffee vs Tim Hague
I know very little about these guys, Hague has a near perfect record and has recorded 1 win in the octagon against Patrick Barry at UFC98. Todd Duffee hasn’t fought in over a year and has the dubious nickname of “the irish car bomb”. Do me a favour! You might as well not have a nickname rather than have a crap one! Im gonna go for Hague based on his far superior record and lack of crap nickname.
Hague T/KO round 2
MiddleWeight: Nick Catone vs Mark Munoz
Again I don’t know too much about either of these guys. What i do know is Munoz was a pretty decent wrestler and came into the UFC at LHW to make his debut against another decent wrestler – Matt Hamill then nearly got his head kicked into Row Z. Munoz showed some ok striking in that fight before he got dropped and now he has come down to middleweight he could be a tough fight for Catone who has one sub win and one sub loss in the UFC (at UFN 17 & 18). I think Munoz will look to make up for that loss against Hamill with a quick GnP win
Mark Munoz T/KO Rd 1
Heavyweight: Mike Russow vs Justin McCully
At one point slated to fight Junior Dos Santos (which would have been an annihilation so he must be breathing a sigh of relief) Justin “the insane one” McCully (ok seriously what is with these nicknames!!) now faces Russow who is making his octagon debut on the back of a 7 fight win streak. Both fighters have the majority of their wins by submission so this could be interesting. McCully benefits from having fought in the UFC twice before so he will be over the “octagon jitters” that have claimed many a debuting fighter. However with 2 decision wins sandwiching his loss to Gonzaga, going by records alone you have to favour Russow. Once again invoking my crap nickname rule, I am picking Russow to choke the stupidly nicknamed “Insane One” into further realms of insanity and I’m going to pick round 3 purely because I haven’t picked that round yet!
Russow sub (choke) rd 3
Heavyweight: Gabriel Gonzaga vs Chris Tuchscherer
Gonzaga is the heavy favourite for this one and will be looking to get back to winning ways after his loss to KO machine Shane Carwin. Tuchscherer will be making his UFC debut and his record shows that he himself is a very heavy hitter with a lot of 1st round stoppages under his belt, although these were against a far lower calibre of opponent than he will face in the HW division of the UFC! He fought in the YAMMA pit fighting heavyweight tournament and had 3 fights in one night ALL going to decisions so that’s 45 minutes worth in one night which is more than some fighters do in 5 or 6 fights!! He may look like a flab-meister but he obviously has gas in the tank as well as power and could pull off an upset, but then I could win the lottery, and am giving Tuchsherer the same odds as me winning the jackpot for him winning this fight. Gonzaga could probably win this anyway he wants but I think it will be decided on the ground with relative ease. I’m going for Gonzaga getting the sub late on in the first round.
Gonzaga sub round 1
On the pay-per-view section of the card there are some potentially great fights. Kicking things off we have the highest scoring fighter name in scrabble…..
LightHeavyweight: Krzysztof Soszynski vs Brandon Vera
A potentially explosive fight here between Soszynski who is undefeated in the octagon so far and Vera who is looking to get back to being the fighter he was once when he went on a four fight tear in the UFC culminating in his dismantling of Frank Mir at UFC65. I love Vera for that, mainly because I can’t stand Frank Mir. Soszynski looks a great prospect and like Vera has fought at heavyweight previously. This could tun into the classic striker vs grappler match with Vera looking to turn it on with his Muay Thai skills and awesome kicking ability and soszynski most likely favouring putting Vera on his back and looking for the TKO or his favourite kimura submission. However, Vera’s ground and clinch game is underrated and is probably good enough to frustrate soszynski. If he can continue the momentum he started to build with his last win against the way overmatched Michael Patt, then I cant see this going any other way than a Vera win. I see Vera controlling the distance, teeing off with leg kicks and eventually taking a TKO win.
Vera TKO round 2
Middleweight: Demian Maia vs Nate Marquadt
There is quite a lot riding on this fight in terms of determining who is up for the next crack at Anderson Silva’s title. Obviously Dan Henderson is in contention too and whether he gets a straight rematch with Silva or faces the winner of this fight for the number 1 contender spot is yet to be determined. But it’s a huge fight for both guys and for me this is fight of the night.
I’m a huge fan of the grappling element of MMA and when Maia does it in the cage it is truly great to watch so I’m rooting for Maia in this fight. However, it would be foolish to dismiss Marquardt’s chances out of hand, he is bigger, stronger and more powerful than Maia and his striking is certainly far superior. The question is going to be whether he can keep Maia stood up and make it hard for the jiujitsu wizard to take him down. If it does go to ground, can Marquardt use his own groundskills to stop Maia’s sneaky setups, avoid the submission and inflict some damage. As much as I like Marquardt I think strength and power only comes into play when skill is equal and Marquardt is not in Maia’s league in terms of skill on the ground. His only chance here is stood up and so the key to this match is Marquardts anti-grappling skills against the takedowns of Maia. A lot of people are picking Marquardt on the basis that Maia is quite 1 dimensional, but he is so good in that dimension that, in the end I think it is inevitable this fight will go to the floor, once there it is only a matter of time before Maia catches Marquardt in his web. A tough win for Maia but a win nonetheless
Maia sub round 2
Middleweight: Chris Leben vs Jake Rusholt
Leben is an out and out brawler and this is his first fight back after testing positive for a banned substance. Jake Rosholt is an elite level wrestler but he picked up a first loss at UFN 17 against Dan Miller. He is going to have a point to prove in this fight and I think this one is going to decision. Rusholt will be looking to use his wrestling to dominate and if he can avoid the big punch he will probably do just that to grind out a decision.
Rosholt decision rd3
LightHeavyweight: Keith Jardine vs Thiago Silva
I don’t know what to make of Keith Jardine, he is kind of horrible but awesome to watch at the same time. He is very unorthodox with his striking and can be devastating and devastatingly bad in equal measure. Silva is a legitimate badass who was made to look about as effective an opponent as a little fluffy kitten against an outstanding Lyoto Machida last time out. Jardine is probably the hardest opponent Silva has faced other than Lyoto, he also is a product of the Jackson camp and Greg Jackson ALWAYS has great gameplans for his fighters. This is going to be a great brawl and although I have to flag up the obviously crap nickname of Jardine – “the Dean of mean”, I’m not sure I can go with my rule that I just made up in this post of not picking the crappy nicknamed guy. In this case I’m making an exception and picking Jardine to eek out a razor thin decision based on a sound well-executed gameplan from mr Jackson and his general awkwardness and freaky angles of attack.
Jardine decision rd3
Heavyweight Randy Couture vs Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira
The main event of this card is another great fight. It arguably would have been even more awesome when Randy ruled the UFC and Nog ruled pride but I still think there is a lot to like about this fight. Both coming off TKO losses and both perhaps coming to the end of their illustrious MMA careers. You wouldnt think it to look at them but Nog is actually 10 years younger than Randy and is showing the effects of many a hard fought battle much more than Couture does. This for me is what will be the deciding factor in this fight…. Nog is much less the fighter he was than Couture is. There has been much talk of Nog being ill in his last fight against Frank Mir when he was virtually a punching bag. Whilst I’m sure we will see a much better Nog than we did in that fight, I still dont think it will be a good night for him.
Randy is amazing in the clinch and uses dirty boxing to great effect, Nog is more skilled in “pure” boxing and is certainly far superior in jiujitsu but Randys wrestling should be enough to help him out of any precarious positions. I dont see either fighting winning this by KO and can’t see either being able to secure the sub so this another one that goes to the judges with Randy nicking the decision
Couture decision rd3
***UPDATE WITH RESULTS******
Aaron Simpson vs Ed Herman– My Pick: Simpson tko rd 1 Actual: Simpson tko rd2 (injury)
Tim Hague vs Todd Duffee– My Pick: Hague tko rd 2 Actual: Duffee tko rd1
Mike Munoz vs Nick Catone– My Pick: Munoz tko rd 1 Actual: Munoz tko rd1
Micahel Russow vs Justin McCully– My Pick: Russow sub rd 3 Actual: Russow dec
Gabriela Gonzaga vs Chris Tuchscherer: My Pick: Gonzaga sub rd1 Actual: Gonzaga tko rd1
Brandon Vera vs Krzysztof Soszynski– My Pick: Vera tko rd 2 Actual: Vera decision
Nate Marquadt vs Demian Maia– My Pick: Maia sub round 2 Actual: Marquadt ko rd1
Jake Rosholt vs Chris Leben– My Pick: Rosholt decision Actual: Rosholt sub rd3
Keith Jardine vs Thiago Silva– My Pick: Jardine decision Actual: Silva tko rd1
Randy Couture vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – My Pick: Randy decision Actual: Nogueira decision