Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, two of the best heavyweights in the history of mixed martial arts, will finally meet, Saturday night at UFC 102, in an event that's headlined by a clash of titans and features a good mix of fighters on the undercard. We've got a full preview and predictions on the televised fights below.
What: UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira
When: The undercard starts at 7 PM ET Saturday and the televised card begins at 10.
Where: Rose Garden, Portland
How: You can buy it for $44.95 on UFC.com or pay-per-view ($54.95 in HD), or you can just follow along with our live coverage here at FanHouse.
Predictions on the five televised fights:
Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
I've gone back and forth on this one more times than I can count, but I finally decided to go along with the vast majority of my Twitter followers and pick Couture. I still think Nogueira has the ability to submit anyone, and I think he'll look better on his feet against Couture than he did in December against Frank Mir, but ultimately I believe Couture will show superior striking and win a decision. Pick: Couture.
Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva
Both fighters are coming off losses, but Jardine's loss was to Rampage Jackson and Silva's was to Lyoto Machida, so there's no shame in that. I like Silva's aggressive striking style a lot, but I think Jardine and his coach, Greg Jackson, will have just the right game plan to pick him apart from the outside. Pick: Jardine.
Jake Rosholt vs. Chris Leben
I like this clash of styles a lot, with Rosholt the NCAA champion wrestler who will want to take the fight to the ground, and Leben the brawler who will want to stand and trade punches. Rosholt is still relatively green and has far less experience than Leben, but I think he'll surprise Leben and win. Pick: Rosholt.
Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia
For my money, this is actually the best fight on the whole card. Maia is undefeated, has won all five of his UFC fights by submission and has won the Submission of the Night award four times. But Marquardt is good enough on the ground to fend off Maia's submission attempts, and he has looked dramatically improved on his feet in his last couple of fights as well. I think it's in the stand-up game where Marquardt will win it. Pick: Marquardt.
Brandon Vera vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
When Vera is motivated, he has the talent to beat almost anyone at 205 pounds. The problem is he sometimes looks listless in the Octagon, and Soszynski is a strong, tough opponent who will make Vera pay if he doesn't come to fight. I think Vera will bring it on Saturday. Pick: Vera.
We'll have full UFC 102 coverage on Saturday night, and you can follow all the action by following my UFC Twitter updates.