UFC 102: Why Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva Might Steal the Show
Much has been made about the headlining fight between Randy "The Natural" Couture and Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira on Aug. 29 at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR. Fans will get to see two of the sport's legends finally square off inside the octagon, but the fans of MMA might get much more than they expected to witness with the under-cards of UFC 102.
There is a matchup to determine a potential challenger for Anderson Silva's title in the highly anticipated matchup between Nate "The Great" Marquardt and submission ace, Demian Maia.
Krzysztof Soszynski finally gets to prove how good he could really be if he is pushed hard enough with an opponent of Brandon Vera's gate-keeping caliber.
The main card also showcases the potential come back of the middleweight bad boy, Chris Leben as he takes on former WEC prospect, Jake Rosholt.
The fight that might garner the most post-fight buzz might very well be the matchup between light-heavyweight contenders Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva in the night's co-main event. Both are coming off of a serious set-back in their bid for a title shot.
Keith Jardine most recently with his three-round battle with former champ, Rampage Jackson back at UFC 96. Thiago Silva looks to recover from his decimating first-round loss on the co-main event of UFC 94 at the hands of the eventual light-heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida.
Both fighters are known for their aggressiveness and their willingness to stand there and trade punches. Thiago is excellent in the clinch with his muay thai and take downs, while Keith is skilled with the single collar tie and connecting with a big strike on his way out.
Silva completes his package with a black-belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which may be useful against Jardine, who is very difficult to keep on his back.
Game-plan: Thiago Silva
There is no doubt that Silva should get inside, grab, and maintain a clinch if he chooses to stand with "The Dean of Mean." Keith has strange timing coming from even more bizarre angles, which may be a tough riddle for Thiago to crack.
Sure, he could stand and bang with him, but Silva has taken plenty of shots to the chin and Jardine is someone who could capitalize on that.
Should this fight go to the ground, Silva will have a serious advantage as a black-belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
However, Silva must take his time if he wants the fight to stay there. Jardine is unbelievably tough to keep down and fighters tend to expend a lot of energy trying to keep him on the mat. This is a great opportunity for Thiago to show off his under-utilized Jiu Jitsu.
Game-plan: Keith Jardine
Jardine's unorthodox style should be used to keep Thiago at bay and not so aggressive. Silva is able to put together combos that often connect, which could spell trouble for Jardine.
He should stick to a more defensive version of his gameplan for Chuck Liddell and try avoiding the slug-fest. Just like Jardine, Silva is an opponent that's able to capitalize on one mistake.
The area that could spell trouble for Jardine is the ground game even though he has a few arm-bars under his belt. He should try to keep this one standing as Thiago is very dangerous from his back and deadly on top.
If this one spends some minutes on the ground, top or bottom, Jardine should just remain patient and avoid falling into a submission.
Betting odds are placing the favorite as Keith Jardine, but this one could go either way. Each have certain advantages in different aspects of the game, but are about dead even in terms of talent and heart. Fight fans can expect to see fireworks from the opening bell to the spectacular finish, whether it's a knock-out, submission, or decision.
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