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Five Things We Learned From UFC 102

Todd DuffeeExperts who study boring things that aim to depress us say you can't learn anything watching TV. I say "bollocks" (which is a word I learned watching the BBC). Watching UFC 102 with a finely attuned eye, there was much to be learned.

Here's my list of five things I surmised from Saturday night's fights.

5. Chris Tuchscherer is the toughest man who ever lived
OK, maybe not the toughest, but he's got to be in the top five along with Evel Knievel, Aron Ralston (the hiker who cut off his own hand to survive an accident), Rasputin and of course, Chuck Norris.

For those of you who didn't see it, I strongly advise you to never, ever seek out the video clip. Seriously. (I'm practically dry-heaving writing this.)

Early in the fight, Tuchscherer was unintentionally hit with a Gabriel Gonzaga kick that landed in the worst place a man could be kicked. And as Mirko Cro Cop knows, Gonzaga kicks really hard. The sound was sickeningly similar to the one you hear when Albert Pujols squares up a Brad Lidge fastball.

Needless to say, if Tuchscherer had announced his retirement right then and there, no one would have blamed him. Instead, after puking and taking the full five minutes alloted for unintentional low blows, Tuchscherer somehow rose to his feet, put in his mouth guard and continued. Across the world, men doubled over and watched in equal parts horror and awe. Alas, there was no happy ending for him, as Gonzaga landed a head kick and eventually pounded Tuchscherer out.

Here's hoping that the UFC gives him another fight. He earned it.

4. Todd Duffee knows how to make an entrance
Most fans watching on Saturday night were probably unfamiliar with Duffee, but it's likely no UFC fighter ever made a more circuitous route to his octagon debut than the 23-year-old.

Duffee was signed back in February and was supposed to fight at UFC 99 before being pulled off the card in favor of the returning Cro Cop. Adding to his drama, he was asked to fly to Cologne, Germany as a potential replacement if something should go wrong. But everything went fine, so he stayed on the sideline. By the time he arrived in Portland, he'd racked up over 12,000 flying miles to make it to his debut fight.

Not surprisingly, Duffee shot out of the gate with the ferocity of a caged animal, needing only seven seconds to knockout Tim Hague (that set a mark for the fastest KO in UFC history). Then he turned to the cameras and said, "Hello, world!"

Hello, indeed.

3. There's no home-field advantage in MMA
Five fighters with roots in or close to Portland walked into the octagon Saturday night, and only one walked out with a win. And even that one -- Evan Dunham -- needed a split-decision to do it.

Ed Herman, Krzysztof Soszynski, Chris Leben and Randy Couture all lost despite competing in front of 16,000 partisan fans.

2. Nate Marquardt has made a notable career progression
Marquardt's been thought of as a top 185-er for some time, but even that fails to take into account just how much he's altered his fight game in the last few years.

Most of the time, when fighters say, "I'm a whole different fighter," it's simply not true. But Marquardt is a whole new fighter, and to prove it, we point to this stat: In his first seven UFC bouts, Marquardt didn't have a single knockout. After knocking out Demian Maia on Saturday night, he now has three in a row.

Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that his striking has been the last thing to develop. Marquardt spent the early part of his career fighting under Pancrase rules (open-hand striking only). Marquardt credits his improvement to renowned boxing coach Trevor Wittman.

Should Marquardt get another crack at Anderson Silva, his improved hands will only add to his confidence level. Not to say it's a good idea to trade blows with "The Spider," but Marquardt is suddenly showing everyone his standup is truly something to fear.

1. Nog's demise is greatly exaggerated
After Frank Mir knocked out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira last December, the whispers immediately started that Minotauro was done, that he was too slow and had taken too much damage over the years. Some even suggested that Nogueira, who was only 32 at the time, should retire.

Somehow, many of us forgot that his whole career -- his whole life, really -- has been about comebacks.

As a child, Nogueira almost died after being run over by a truck. He still bears the scars as a reminder. As an adult, he routinely takes a beating and finds a way to win. The guy has more sequels in him than the Harry Potter franchise. Sure, his hands aren't quite as quick as they were a few years ago, but his jiu-jitsu is still a loaded gun to respect and fear.

Will Nog ever capture another major title? Who knows, but Saturday night was a reminder to bet against him at your own risk.

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