Couture Vs. Nogueira: UFC 102 Predictions/Tips

Flying KneeCorrespondent IAugust 28, 2009

Am I the only one having trouble accessing Bodog's MMA lines? I'll be using lines like last time until I can access them again.

Anyway, UFC 102 is here, an important card that will decide who gets back into contention in their respective divisions.

Couture, Nogueira, Jardine, Silva, Vera, and Leben, all trying to bounce back from their losses, and most just one or two wins away from another contender bout. In addition, Marquardt and Maia fight off for a possible title shot.

All odds given as decimals, based on the total return that you receive, assuming that you place 1.00 down. I.e, 2.55 indicates that you will make a profit of 1.55 + your original 1.00 for every 1.00 you place.

Brandon 'The Truth' Vera vs. Krzyzstof 'The Polish Experiment' Soszynski

Brandon Vera

+Strong kicks and proven KO power
+Great Muay Thai combos that incorporate low/mid/high kicks
+Good Jiu Jitsu
+Wrestling background

-Mentally unpredictable, which can throw his game off severely

Krzyzstof Soszynski

+Wrestling background
+Strength advantage and decent athleticism
+Hard hitter
-Slugs it out on the feet without much skill
-Average submission skill

Soszynski can win this with a haymaker, but that's unlikely. He may try outwrestling Vera and working GnP, but he'll likely have trouble getting it to the ground, considering Vera's high school wrestling experience.

If it stays standing, Vera should be able to tear Soszynski a new one, and if anyone is getting submitted in this one, it'll probably be the Pole. Soszynski looks to at least have a natural strength advantage on his side, and I'm not just saying that because he used to be a bodybuilder and pro wrestler, but is that going to be enough?
My Take

Gotta go with Vera by TKO, Round 1. Even an unmotivated Vera should be able to take out Soszynski.

Vera enters at 1.47 while Soszynski enters at 2.75. I'll take Vera with a parlay.

Chris 'The Crippler' Leben vs. Jake Rosholt

Chris Leben

+Iron jaw
+Very heavy hitter, with one-punch KO power
+Decent cardio
-Bad submission skills
-Questionable wrestling
-Brawls too much

Jake Rosholt

+NCAA Division I wrestling champion in 2003 at 184lbs and in 2005 and 2007 at 197lbs, as well as being a 4-time All American
+Good ground control

-Beginner striking
-Little to no submission skill


Rosholt is an extremely good wrestler and not much else, so his modus operandi is simple: take him down and don't let him back up.

Leben's iron jaw will prevent him from being finished, so Rosholt is going to have to pin him down for the decision, because he won't submit him either.

Leben isn't the best wrestler on earth, as seen when Josh Koscheck outworked him for a unanimous decision on TUF, but one punch on the way in is all he needs to put Rosholt's lights out.

My Take

Rosholt by Velasquez/Kongo style victory, winning a UD and surviving the striking portion.

Leben enters at 1.74, and Rosholt at 2.05, so I'll take Rosholt by himself.

Demian Maia vs. Nate 'The Great' Marquardt

Nate Marquardt

+Good wrestler
+Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt
+Great ground and pound
+Unpredictable and versatile striking

-Sometimes overaggressive and brawls
-Does not react well to being pressured

Notable Wins
Wilson Gouveia (2009)
Kazuo Misaki x2 (2004, 2002)

Demian Maia

+Gold medal at ADCC 2007 at 87kg, silver medal in 2005 at 87kg, as well as impressive Mundials showings
+Has little trouble getting fights to the ground, and is very good at pulling guard
-Striking extremely questionable
-Conventional wrestling not a strong point


Maia is one of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts there is, and I'm confident when I say that Marquardt, a BJJ black belt himself, will not want this to go to the ground.

The American has a good chance to keep it standing, being a much better wrestler than Maia and a much better striker, too. Only way Maia brings it to the ground is by pulling guard. That might be particularly risky against Marquardt, who has some wicked GnP.

Marquardt has some big advantages here; his striking is good enough to pressure Maia when they're on the feet, his wrestling is good enough to keep it off and to stand back up when he is on the ground, and BJJ is good enough to avoid submission when it does hit the ground.

My Take
Gotta go with the more well rounded Marquardt, who should be able to stay out of harm's way using his wrestling and get the KO on the feet.

Marquardt enters at 1.57, while Maia is at 2.45. I'm confident in Marquardt pulling it off, but that is a severe difference in value. I'll choose to take a parlay with Marquardt.

'The Dean of Mean' Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva

Keith Jardine

+Good, unorthodox kickboxing
+Excellent low kicks
+Elite sparring partners

-Defense is open, and relies on keeping distance
-No offensive wrestling skills
-Questionable submission skills

Notable Wins:
Chuck Liddell (2007)

Thiago Silva

+Brazilian Jiu Jistu black belt
+Vicious ground and pound
+Punches pack power

-Defense is horribly open
-Striking is at beginner's level
-Slow on his feet


Thiago Silva punches hard, but he's not exactly a good striker, with his combinations consisting more of ones than one-twos, and there's no shortage of examples of him getting schooled on the feet for considerable periods of time.

The Dean should take him apart standing, provided he does not get sucker punched, so Thiago will probably try to get this to the mat if he's smart.
I don't think he'll find it as easy as that, though. Jardine hasn't fought the best wrestlers in the world, but sparring with GSP, Evans, and Marquardt is reason enough that I'm going to guess he can sprawl out of Thiago's takedowns.

My Take

Jardine by knockout, taking advantage of Thiago's very lax defense. People think Jardine has a glass chin, but he's only been dropped by rocket-like punches, and Thiago's is certainly no better. Thiago threatens on the ground, but I gotta take the Dean.

Jardine enters at 1.69, while Silva is at 2.19, but I'm relying on Jardine to get the job done. I'd advise backing him in conjunction with Marquardt.

Randy 'The Natural' Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo 'Minotauro' Nogueira

Randy Couture

+Olympic caliber Greco-Roman wrestler
+Very good boxing; good combinations and great head movement
+The master of dirty boxing
+Excellent submission defence
+Great at scrambling and standing back up

-No offensive submission game
-Light puncher
-46 years old
-May have interference from other projects
-Not a versatile striker

Notable Wins
Tim Sylvia (2007)
Gabriel Gonzaga (2007)
Vitor Belfort (2004, 1997)
Tito Ortiz (2003)
Chuck Liddell (2003)
Pedro Rizzo x2 (2001, 2001)
Kevin Randleman (2000)

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

+Great chin and recovery
+Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt
+Jiu Jitsu very well adapted towards MMA, with a very dangerous guard
+Limitless heart

-Weak wrestling
-Coming back after staph, and knee surgery
-Powerless stand-up
-Has taken more punishment than almost any MMA fighter

Notable Wins
Tim Sylvia (2008)
Heath Herring x3 (2007, 2004, 2001)
Josh Barnett (2006)
Fabricio Werdum (2006)
Sergei Kharitonov (2004)
Mirko Cro Cop (2003)
Ricco Rodriguez (2003)
Mark Coleman (2001)


Randy Couture is an Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling, and he possesses greater wrestling than any of Nogueira's past opponents with the exception of Mark Coleman.

Understandably, Nogueira faces a gigantic problem in this regard; if Couture's fight with Lesnar has proven anything, it's that The Natural is very difficult to keep down and has an excellent sprawl.

I'd be surprised if Nogueira takes Couture down once, so I think he'll be forced to pull guard. But what Coleman didn't have was sub defense, which Couture has plenty of, no one avoids submission from Jacaré in a grappling match without it.

Couture also has very good, though not that powerful, boxing, and should have no problem outpointing Nogueira on the feet. Especially considering that Nogueira looked shot in his fight against Frank Mir, and, while he was once a good boxer, does not seem to be able to avoid blows or string combinations together anymore.

I don't think these problems are going to get any better; Nogueira has come through battling staph, and has had knee surgery since he lost to Mir. And aside from that, the guy has been through too much. Every time you take a hard blow, your brain gets rattled, and every time it does, it gets a little looser, easier to rattle again.

I believe Couture should show up in shape, unless his filming of 'The Expendables' sets off his training.

My Take

It's sad saying it, but I really don't see Nogueira pulling this off. I don't ever see him reclaiming his former glory, and I don't think that fighting top competition at this point will do anything good for his health.

It's not just one fight either, he has been looking more and more sluggish, more easily rattled. He's in danger of traveling the same path as Enson Inoue at this point.

So I'd love for him to prove me wrong, but don't count on it. Couture enters at 1.54, while Nogueira is at 2.55. I'll take Couture, whether by himself or in conjunction with Vera.


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