With UFC 102 quickly approaching, we're all excited to see the return of former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, Randy "The Natural" Couture. This Washington native, now fighting out of Las Vegas, NV is 46 years old and still throwing down impressively with some of the greatest heavyweights in the world.
Couture will be matched up with 33-year-old Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Antonio "Minitauro" Nogueira (pictured at right). Nogueira is a Brazilian native from Rio de Janeiro, which is home to some of the best Jiu-Jitsu on the planet.
Couture comes in as the favorite at -170. This means if you choose Couture to win, you must bet $170 to win $100. Couture boasts some world-class wrestling skills and has an excellent clinch. Nogueira is a +150, meaning if you pick him to win and bet $100, you will win $150.
Nogueira has decent stand-up and obvious insatiable lust for choking out or arm barring his opponents. He has many different submissions in his arsenal. Both of these fighters may trade blows for a while, but look for this one to get to the ground. If it does hit the ground, look for Couture to mount and then ground and pound with a flurry of punches or Nogueira to go for a submission to get Couture to tap out. I feel Couture is past his prime and will have to win early if he is going to at all. Going the distance with a younger submission specialist like Nogueira will eventually put him at a disadvantage. Training in Jiu-Jitsu myself, I know how lethal submissions can be. I pick Nogueira for the upset.
Another major fight on the card is Thiago Silva (pictured at left) versus Keith Jardine in the 205-pound class. Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine is a Montana native now fighting out of Albuquerque, NM and is our favorite at -185. Jardine is known for his powerful kicks and all out ability to brawl. This guy can definitely take a beating for the distance.
Jardine's opponent, Thiago Silva, is a Sao Paulo, Brazil native and is known for his aggressive striking, be it on his feet or on the ground.
Silva is the underdog at +165. Silva is very explosive and will look to finish this one early. Going the distance with the more experienced Keith Jardine is not in his favor. If these two trade blows, I believe the power is with Jardine but the speed is with Silva. This will be a tough one to call, but I am going to pick the explosivity of Silva and his fury of punches early. I haven't seen a lot out of Jardine's past fights to prove otherwise.
Some other fights that should definitely bring some excitement to fight fans are Matt Hamill +135 vs Brandon Vera -155, Demian Maia +115 vs Nate Marquardt -135, Jake Rosholt +145 vs Chris Leben -165, Justin McCully +320 vs Junior Dos Santos -380 and James Irvin +175 vs Wilson Gouveia -200. Here's to hoping you cash some tickets!
As always, I'd like to thank Mike Colbert at The M Resort Spa and Casino for providing the lines. Check out my column every Wednesday for the latest action on upcoming fights.