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UFC 102 predictions

Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt
I don’t know how to feel about this fight. On one hand, Chris Leben is going to get back in the win column; on the other, it’ll be at the expense of a green, still raw fighter. Leben is going to win early however he wants. It’s such a shame that a guy like with potential has been rushed into such big fights with so little experience. The “trial by fire” method isn’t for everyone, and that’s exactly how Jake Rosholt is being treated. I also wonder how many wrestlers will look at Team Takedown, see how little success they’ll have had in MMA and decide not to try it out themselves. Could Chris Leben keep an entire generation of competitors from entering the sport? I dunno, but he’ll at least keep Jake from entering the winner’s circle tonight.

Brandon Vera vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
I’m still a Brandon Vera fan despite all of the hiccups he’s had in his career. People make it out like he fell from grace when he took his leave of absence in 2006, but he was never really on the pedestal people had him on in the first place. Loss to Sylvia? Everyone lost to Sylvia back then. Loss to Werdum? That’s on Mirgliotta. Fights with Jardine and Andy? Those guys match-up stylistically for 99% of people. Yeah, Vera set some lofty expectations for his career at Fight Night 2, but people should just back off and let him get sorted out before the failure label gets permanently affixed. Krzysztof is the perfect kind of opponent to see if Vera can really hang or not. But since I’m never going to get the image of Ben Rothewell smashing on him out of my head, I’m gonna say Vera takes a TKO sometime in the second – could possibly be underwhelming or an addition to the Filipino’s highlight reel.

Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia
Who has a coin? Demian Maia is a grappling monster that has TKOed guys with chokes (“technical submission” my ass), while Marquardt has been on a tear for the last two years pulling off small-package guillotines, piledrivers and Mortal Kombat 3 dial-a-combos. lYou know how people use the “puncher’s chance” expression to describe how a stiker could win? Well, Demian Maia has a grappler’s chance ™. And I believe that’s all he has; Maia has made it very clear that he prefers to throw no strikes because he wants to bring more respect to BJJ. DUMB. Marquardt is the best fighter Demian will have faced yet. As good as Quarry, Herman and MacDonald are, they are not on the top 99th percentile like Nate is. I believe Marquardt will punch from the outside while avoiding any and all grappling. He eventually beats Maia down enough to warrant a mercy stoppage late in the third round.

Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva
For being a typical Chute Boxe brawler, Thiago Silva can’t take what he gives. James Irvin was putting him in his place during their fight and Machida slaughtered him when he moved forward. Thiago is also a guy who got put on too early. Someone tell me why he was ever top ten again? Because he beat Houston Alexander and almost got KOed by Antoino Mednes? *face palm* He’s just another Helio Dipp to me. Keith Jardine is the kind of guy who you can never get a feel for because he’s so awkward. You’re not even safe if you can somehow find a groove because he’ll change stances and throw off the timing again. His fighting style is like the T-1000, the way it keeps altering to throw you off. Liddell, Rampage, Forrest, Vera, Goiveia and Bonnar all couldn’t find a way to strategically fight the guy; a sloppy, non-technical banger like Silva won’t find a range for his hands, let alone a home for them. His only chance is to bull rush Jardine. If your gameplan is to do the Bart Simpson “I’m gonna swing my arms around, and if you just happen to be in the way…” offense, you don’t have much of a chance.

Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Maybe this fight doesn’t have the sheen it did seven years ago, but at least we get it. Randy Couture is an old dude who could kill you with his bare hands and Noguirea is a guy who can be KOed by looking at someone’s hands. It’s not a good sign if a newbie sees both of these guys and has to ask which one is 46 years old. Randy – despite all of his virtues – must have made a deal with Malebolgia to stave off the aging process. (Seriously, Randy could be the Jack Lalane of MMA one day.) In any case, I see this going horribly for the former PRIDE champion right off the bat. Randy drops him with his first punch, like he did to Sylvia, and gets top position from there. I expect Nog to struggle off of his back and hit no sweps or any offense whatsoever. This is gonna look very similar to Randy vs. Gonzaga, and the ol’ man is gonna earn himself one more “can he do it?” fight with Lesnar in 2010.