Two middle-aged guys will fight this weekend and it won’t have anything to do with the Super Bowl. Randy Couture and Mark Coleman will boast a combined age of 91 when they step into the Octagon at UFC 109: Relentless on Feb. 6 but both looked spry in their last bouts, wins over Brandon Vera and Stephan Bonnar, respectively. The next middleweight contender will also be decided when Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen step into the cage, Mike Swick is looking to climb back into contention against Paulo Thiago and two guys who don’t like Matt Hughes (Matt Serra and Frank Trigg) will fight to stay relevant at welterweight. Here are FIGHT!’s Picks for Saturday night’s fights with odds courtesy bodog.
Both pioneers of wrestling for MMA, Couture and Coleman are boxer-wrestlers who rely on position and pressure. The difference is that Coleman relies on his shot while Couture utilizes his Greco-Roman base for trips, throws, and dirty boxing. While “The Hammer” brings more power standing and on the mat, “Captain America” grows stronger as the fight drags on. Coleman’s Achilles heel has been his cardio; however, Coleman’s last camp under Couture’s former striking coach Shawn Tompkins corrected the Ohioan’s endurance and Coleman was strong through 15 minutes against Stephan Bonnar last July.
An argument could be made that Coleman’s power could pose problems for Couture but “The Natural” has worked more diligently than his contemporaries on rounding out his game – that’s why he’s still relevant at 46. Couture can be outboxed but Coleman doesn’t have the skills and he won’t take Couture down as easily as he did Bonnar.
FIGHT! LOCK Pick: Couture.
(Nate Marquardt’s a really nice guy. Most of the time. Courtesy of Zuffa, LLC)
Dana White recently announced that this is a #1 contender fight that will either give Marquardt a much-deserved second crack at Anderson Silva (yes, we’re assuming he’ll take out Vitor Belfort at UFC 112) or give Sonnen the opportunity to expose “The Spider” as an over hyped fraud.
While this fight isn’t a walkover, Sonnen’s pre-fight talk is much better than his walk. He is an extremely good wrestler but he got tooled on the ground by Demian Maia, a guy who Marquardt crushed in 21 seconds. Marquardt’s jiu jitsu is world class and his striking is better than any of Sonnen’s previous opponents. Sonnen’s wrestling base may give Marquardt fits but “The Great” is simply too good at too many things to lose this fight.
FIGHT! Pick: Marquardt.
(Courtesy of Zuffa, LLC)
This fight is interesting because you’ve got two guys who are nearing the end of their careers, a process that may be sped up significantly with a loss on Sat. The difference is that Trigg seems to be feeling the weight of it while Serra is completely unburdened. As he puts it, after winning a title, “it’s all gravy,” and he can move on with his life knowing that for one night he was the best 170-pounder in the world.
Serra isn’t the best welterweight in the world but we’re confident that he is better than Trigg right now. Trigg’s best bet is to bully Serra with wrestling and top contol. Unfortunately for Trigg, the Renzo Gracie black belt is comfortable on his back.
FIGHT! Pick: Serra.
(“Quick” Swick finds out just how ‘Hardy’ his opponent’s chin is.)
Paulo Thiago is tough and fearless but Swick has the defensive wrestling and ability to get off his back to negate aspects of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt’s mat assault. Keeping Thiago standing will help Swick exploit his opponents wide striking style.
FIGHT! Pick: Swick.
(Maia makes it look easy. Courtesy of Zuffa, LLC)
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Demian Maia looks to rebound from his first career defeat loss (see above)—against former International Fight League 185-pound titleholder Dan Miller. Miller is coming off a loss to one of Maia’s submission victims, Chael Sonnen. If Miller punches in-and-out and keeps the fight center cage both standing and on the mat, the New Jersey native’s blend of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and ground and pound allows him a second option to take the fight away from the ADCC Champion. But – and I hate to rationalize this pick with MMAth, but Miller coudn’t get past Sonnen, a fighter Maia wrapped up fairly easily. Miller is solid and may develop into a contender but Maia got within a fight of the title without using anything but his jiu jitsu. Unless Miller knocks him out, Maia gets back in the win column.
FIGHT! Pick: Maia.
FIGHT! LOCK Pick: Couture. Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Nate Marquardt (-525) vs. Chael Sonnen (+325)
FIGHT! Pick: Marquardt. Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Matt Serra (-155) vs. Frank Trigg (+125)
FIGHT! Pick: Serra. Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Mike Swick (-500) vs. Paulo Thiago (+300)
FIGHT! Pick: Swick. Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Demian Maia (-500) vs. Dan Miller (+325)
FIGHT! Pick: Maia. Resulting Outcome: CORRECT