Stephen Quinn, UFC - For the second time in 2010, the UFC will return to the bright lights of the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada for an action-packed night of fights at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and with the main card consisting of UFC Hall of Famers, former champions, and some of the best fighters in mixed martial arts, this has all the makings of another memorable night in the Octagon. But before the opening bell, it’s time to read on for the UFC 109 main card fantasy breakdown.
For the second time in 2010, the UFC will return to the bright lights of the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada for an action-packed night of fights at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and with the main card consisting of UFC Hall of Famers, former champions, and some of the best fighters in mixed martial arts, this has all the makings of another memorable night in the Octagon. But before the opening bell, it’s time to read on for the UFC 109 main card fantasy breakdown.
DEMIAN MAIA VS. DAN MILLER
After winning the first five fights in his UFC career, Maia suffered his first defeat at the hands of Nate Marquardt in less than a minute at UFC 102. Maia wants nothing more than to show everyone watching that his last fight was nothing but a freak incident and that the real Demian Maia is the guy who won the five previous times he entered the Octagon. In those first five victories, Maia submitted all of his opponents – winning Submission of the Night honors four times.
Fighting out of Whippany, New Jersey., Dan Miller holds an 11-2, 1 NC record. Like his opponent, Miller wants to show everyone watching inside of the Mandalay Bay Events Center and across the world on Pay-Per-View that the fighter who lost at UFC 98 to Chael Sonnen isn’t the real Dan Miller. Prior to losing that fight back in May of 2009, Miller had won three straight fights and was moving up the division’s ladder. Miller knows that beating Demian Maia will be a great way to reintroduce himself to fans of the UFC and to start moving back towards a title shot.
On paper, with both fighters having jiu-jitsu black belts, it seems like both will be looking to bring the fight to the canvas to score a submission victory. But Miller just may want to test the standup waters with Maia to give him a little flashback to the Marquardt fight. It will also be interesting to see if both fighters come out a little slow – with the pressure of having lost their previous fights still in the back of their minds.
Method of Finish? Submission
Likely to go the Distance? No
PAULO THIAGO VS. MIKE SWICK
With an impressive 12-1 record, Brazilian Paulo Thiago is looking to start 2010 the same way he finished 2009 – with a victory. In the thick of the welterweight division, Thiago knows that by scoring an impressive victory on Pay-Per-View, he could catapult his way to the top of the division. The six-time Brasilia Jiu-Jitsu champion will be facing a fighter from the American Kickboxing Academy for the third time in four fights inside of the Octagon, and he knows that a loss on Saturday night may send a member of AKA towards a shot at UFC gold instead of him. That is something he will try to stop come Saturday night.
After Josh Koscheck had to pull out of this fight due to an injury, it was his teammate at AKA, Mike Swick, that got the call to step up and fight Thiago on short notice. In a moment’s notice, Swick went from being the guy who was helping his teammate prepare for Thiago to the one who would be fighting Paulo Thiago. Swick made his mark in the UFC by being given the nickname “Quick” because of how quickly he was finishing fights in the Octagon after being a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter. After starting his career 5-0, with his first two victories coming in less than a minute combined, Swick was close to fighting for the middleweight title until Yushin Okami defeated him. After his loss to Okami, Swick dropped to 170 pounds and put together another winning streak, this time four straight fights, but he is coming off a decision defeat to Dan Hardy last November, making him even more hungry for victory on Saturday night
When the bell rings, look for Swick to come out very fast – much like he did when he won his first five UFC fights in 2005-06. Swick will look to keep the fight standing so he can wait for his opportunity to score a knockout. As for Thiago, look for him to throw Swick off balance a little by coming out with a more methodic game plan. By coming out slow, he may frustrate his opponent. As the fight goes on, look for Thiago to get increasingly confident as he tries to bring the action to the canvas, where he can work his ground game.
Method of Finish? TKO
Likely to go the Distance? No
NATE MARQUARDT VS. CHAEL SONNEN
When the Octagon gate closes on Saturday night and the bell rings, both Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen know the importance of getting a win in their middleweight bout. Both fighters are aware that the result of their first fight in 2010 will dictate whether or not a shot at UFC gold will be a probable goal in the next ten months. A loss will send that goal into at least 2011.
Fighting out of Denver, Colorado, Nate Marquardt has established himself as a top contender in the middleweight division. With a professional record of 32-8-2, Marquardt is currently riding a three fight-winning streak – with wins over Martin Kampmann, Wilson Gouveia, and Demian Maia. Having won eight of his 10 fights inside the Octagon, a victory on Saturday night will almost certainly put him back into a title fight rematch against Anderson Silva. It was Silva that ended the four-fight winning-streak that he started his career in the UFC with.
A native of Milwaukie, Oregon, Chael Sonnen is currently riding a two fight winning streak. Like his opponent on Saturday night, a victory will likely put him near the front of the contender line for a shot at the middleweight title. After losing his first fight in 2009 to Demian Maia, Sonnen got back to his winning ways by beating Dan Miller and Yushin Okami. Prior to fighting in the UFC, Sonnen had won two fights in the WEC before being sent to the UFC when the 185-pound weight class was discontinued.
Known for his strong wrestling skills, Chael Sonnen - a member of Team Quest - will be looking to use those skills to bring Marquardt to the ground. With both of his victories in 2009 coming by way of decision, Sonnen will definitely be looking to end the fight before the 15 minute mark in order to put an exclamation mark on why he deserves at shot at UFC gold. Marquardt will be comfortable wherever the fight may take him, but expect him to try to keep it standing so he can put another highlight reel knockout win on his record.
Method of Finish? TKO
Likely to go the Distance? No
MATT SERRA VS. FRANK TRIGG
It didn’t take long for both Matt Serra and Frank Trigg to start the back and forth verbal jabs at one another. In fact, it seemed as if both fighters started to verbally hype the fight once the contract was signed. But although they’ve been going back and forth at each other through the media for weeks, when the Octagon gate closes Saturday night, the war of words will quickly go silent and the only thing fans will hear are the sounds of punches and kicks hitting one another – and quite possibly a few taps, if one of these veterans is able to land a submission.
Matt Serra has found himself in many different positions while being with the UFC. The native of New York started his UFC career by being knocked out by a spinning back fist by Shonie Carter that still finds itself on many highlight-reels. After his loss to Carter, Serra put together a 4-3 record before becoming a contestant on season four of The Ultimate Fighter. By reaching the finals, Serra faced Chris Lytle for a guaranteed title shot against welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. In a hard fought fight, Serra edged out a split decision victory over Lytle. Leading up to his fight with St-Pierre at UFC 69, many considered it potentially one of the most lopsided title fights ever, but Serra shocked everyone by not only winning the welterweight title but also by winning the fight without practically getting touched. It took less than four minutes to dispose of GSP, and in a reverse of roles, Serra went from being a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter to becoming a coach on season six, scheduled to fight opposing coach, Matt Hughes at the conclusion of the finale. However, he was forced to withdraw from the much-anticipated fight with Hughes due to injury. After recovering from the injury, Serra went on to lose his belt in a rematch to St-Pierre. Since losing his belt, Serra dropped a close decision to Hughes when they finally met in May of 2009. Currently riding a two-fight losing streak, Serra knows the consequences of losing another fight in a division that has so many world-class fighters.
With a professional record of 19-7, Frank Trigg has won fights in 13 different organizations throughout a career that started in 1997. Having a career that has found him fighting in so many different organizations and places around the world, Trigg has become a well-recognized fighter that fans enjoy watching fight. Although he has jumped around throughout his career, Saturday night will mark the seventh time he’s entered the Octagon. Trigg may be best known for taking Matt Hughes to the brink of defeat in their championship rematch. Although he came up short in that fight, Trigg had Hughes in a deep choke that turned made the then-champion turn red in the face and nearly pass out. At 37-years-old, Trigg believes that he has one last title run in his career, and a win on Saturday night will move him one step closer to the top.
With vastly different styles, it will be interesting to see whose game plan prevails. Serra, who is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with knockout power in his fists, may want to keep it standing, but if it goes to the mat, he has the tools to get the submission. Trigg will probably be looking for the takedown early in order to work his ground and pound game, while also keeping a close eye on Serra’s submission attempts from the bottom.
Method of Finish? Submission
Likely to go the Distance? No
RANDY COUTURE VS. MARK COLEMAN
Originally scheduled to fight each other over a decade ago, both Randy Couture and Mark Coleman will finally get their chance on Saturday night to face each other. For the first time in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, two active Hall of Famers will square off against each other. But with both fighters in their 40’s, they know that a loss will all but end their chances of making a final run at a UFC title.
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Randy Couture will enter the Octagon on Saturday night for the 22nd time. At the age of 46, Couture has accomplished nearly everything there is to in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Considered by many as the most successful fighter in the history of the UFC, Couture has held the title multiple times in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. Along with holding belts in two different weight classes, he is also a member of the UFC Hall of Fame. After starting his career in 1997, it didn’t take long for him to make an impact in the UFC. After winning the first three fights inside the Octagon, Couture took on and beat Maurice Smith for the first of three heavyweight championships. He has been just as successful at 205 pounds, with wins over Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and Vitor Belfort, among others. After a year-long retirement, Couture returned in 2007 and has gone 3-2 as he approaches Saturday’s pivotal showdown with Coleman.
One of the true pioneers of the sport, Mark Coleman is the UFC’s first-ever heavyweight champion and a member of the UFC Hall of Fame who knows that with a victory over Couture, he will begin another march towards a title shot. Making his debut at UFC 10, Coleman went on to win the first six fights in his UFC career – with notable wins over Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, and Dan Severn. After losing his title to Maurice Smith in 1997, Coleman was scheduled to take on Couture at UFC 17 in 1998, but a Couture injury forced the bout to be scrapped. Coleman would go on to lose to Pete Williams that night, and after another defeat to Pedro Rizzo, Coleman left the UFC to fight in Japan for PRIDE. In PRIDE, Coleman resurrected his career by winning the Open Weight Grand Prix Championship in 2000, and continued to fight the organization’s best until 2006. In 2008, Coleman was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, and in 2009 he returned to active duty in the Octagon with a three round scrap against Shogun Rua and a decision win over Stephan Bonnar. Now looking to string multiple victories together in the hopes of one day fighting for the title again, Coleman knows that the road to the top runs through Randy Couture.
It’s no secret that both Couture and Coleman rely strongly on their wrestling abilities to bring their fights either to the canvas for some ground and pound, or to the Octagon fence, where they pin their opponents against the cage for some punishing clinch work. But with both fighters known for relatively the same game plan – something has to give. Each time Couture enters the Octagon, he seems to be sharpening his standup ability, so don’t be surprised if he looks to try to keep the action standing. But the question many are asking is how will the fighters look on Saturday night if the fight goes into the third round? Although Couture is known for great cardio, this will be the third time in less than a year that the 46-year old fighter will enter the Octagon; will he still have enough in the gas tank after such a busy schedule? For Coleman, who actually may be the stronger wrestler of the two, look for him to stick with his regular game plan of bringing the fight to the ground. If Coleman is successful in doing so, it could be a long night for ‘The Natural’.
Method of Finish? Decision
Likely to go the Distance? Yes