While absent of a championship bout, UFC 102 has the potential to wind up as one of the most memorable events in recent promotion history. The event features a slew of bouts that are a testament to match-making gone right, five or six of which have realistic possibilities of stealing the show.
UFC 102 is set for this Saturday evening, August 29, from the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon, and will air live on pay-per-view.
The show will be highlighted by a main event pitting Randy Couture up against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira , with other intriguing match-ups including Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt, Thiago Silva vs. Keith Jardine and many more.
However, in this segment we’ll be taking a closer look at the fights that make up the preliminary portion of the card. A prelim show any red blooded mixed martial arts fan can get excited for.
AARON SIMPSON VS. ED HERMAN
This fight is going to tell us a lot more about Aaron Simpson than it will Ed Herman. With five wins and five stoppages by either KO or TKO, there is still a great deal to discover in regards to the still developing Simpson. I personally believe, and have believed that Simpson has all of the skills necessary to become a champion in the UFC someday. While that day may not be tomorrow, I feel like he has the tools to get there eventually with the proper development. Proper development he’s sure to receive under the care of the Lally brothers at Arizona Combat Sports. Simpson has a huge punch, a top level wrestling game and a killer instinct that can’t be taught.
With that said, Herman will without a doubt be the toughest test he has face up until this point in his career. Herman has established himself a legitimate UFC middleweight with impressive victories over the likes of Joe Doerkson and Scott Smith during his time spent in the Octagon. He possesses a powerful punch himself, a strong wrestling game and slick submissions.
Simpson can’t help but be exciting when he fights, and I don’t expect for this bout to be any different. Expect fireworks for as long as it lasts, and although I’m fully aware that Herman has never been knocked out in the history of his career, there’s a first time for everything.
Winner: Aaron Simpson via TKO
GABRIEL GONZAGA VS. CHRIS TUCHSCHERER
Gabriel Gonzaga is arguably one of the two or three most talented heavyweights currently competing in the sport, it’s always been a matter of which Gonzaga shows up. When properly trained and performing at his full potential, Napao could very well beat any heavyweight in the business on the right night. Gonzaga has demonstrated the ability to end his fights with head kicks, punches and submissions. A true triple threat.
On the other hand, everyone has their weaknesses, and outside of being punched in the face by Shane Carwin (which I’d imagine would be a weakness for just about anybody, man or beast) I feel like Gonzaga is vulnerable to some good old fashioned ground and pound. The exact type that Tuchscherer is an expert in delivering. That’s Tuchsherer’s whole thing; put you on your back and make hamburger out of you. That’s what he does for a living. Not boring GNP either; I’m talking about the type of punishment from the top that makes you thank your lucky stars that you’re not on the receiving end of it. 260 pounds is a lot of man to deal with when the guy’s dropping bombs like Chris does.
I’m fully aware that Gonzaga is a huge jump up for Tuchscherer at this point, but hell, Gonzaga would be a huge jump up for anyone on the face of this earth outside of four or five guys. I’m going to get slammed for this one, so slam away, just call it a gut instinct.
Winner: Chris Tuchscherer via TKO
For any readers wishing to dispute this prediction, please see the included picture for further clarification of the reasoning behind my choice. Furthermore, I will fully admit partial bias in this one – War Chris!
JUSTIN MCCULLY VS. MIKE RUSSOW
I’m glad to see Russow make his UFC debut as I feel as it was an appropriate move on all ends. Russow is a scary heavyweight that shouldn’t be let out of a major promotion like the UFC to assault lesser fighters. He’s a big, powerful heavyweight with a smothering and technical ground game. With a submission ratio rarely seen in the heavyweight division, 8 of Russow’s 11 victories have come by way of tapout.
McCully is an always dangerous heavyweight, but his advantages over previous opponents aren’t going to work for him against Russow. Where McCully has utilized a superior wrestling game to overpower past foes, a similar gameplan isn’t going to work against a guy like Russow. McCully has yet to score a knockout in his professional career, and I highly doubt he’ll score his first this Saturday night. With the ground and pound decision and one punch knockout seemingly out of the equation, that leaves a possible submission for McCully? Not going to happen. The fact that McCully has been submitted in all four of his prior losses can’t be viewed as a good omen either due to the fact that Russow has made a career out of strangling necks and twisting limbs.
Russow is just a little bit better in too many areas, and he’ll show it at UFC 102. The UFC’s heavyweight division just got a little more crowded.
Winner: Mike Russow via Submission
TIM HAGUE VS. TODD DUFFEE
Another heavyweight slobberknocker! I don’t know if it has to do with me obsessing over guys like Mike Tyson, Razor Ruddock, Tommy Morrison and Riddick Bowe growing up or what, but I love to watch a couple massive dudes trying to clobber one another in a controlled environment. This is one thing that will never get old to me.
Hague really impressed me in his debut. I already knew he was a monster of a man standing at 6’4″ and weighing right around the 265 pound mark with an impressive record, but what I was most in awe of was his ability to rebound from the brink of defeat to pull out the victory. A trait impossible to teach in the fight game. What I saw in Hague’s last bout convinced me he will be a problem for any man he ends up facing in the future. He was nearly decapitated with brutal head kicks from Pat Barry, yet recovered his wits and put the stranglehold on the decorated kickboxer.
Duffee seems to be taking the Cain Velasquez approach to the UFC, jumping headfirst into a sea full of sharks just a few fights into his career. The fact that Duffee holds a prior win over a fighter as seasoned as Assuerio Silva, and trains at one of the best gyms on the face of the earth at American Top Team in Florida tells me that it’s a step that Duffee feels more than ready to make. Four fights and four devastating KO’s make Todd a heavyweight prospect to keep an eye on, and this a bout to watch.
Winner: Todd Duffee via TKO
NICK CATONE VS. MARK MUNOZ
Undoubtedly a must-win fight for a couple of men with extremely promising futures in MMA ahead of them. Both guys have strong wrestling backgrounds, and both men were undefeated going into their previous defeats in the Octagon. Catone succumbed to a second round guillotine choke at the hands of Tim Credeur, while Munoz fell victim to a first round head kick at the shin of Matt Hamill.
This should wind up being more of the competitive bouts of the night , but it’s hard to guess what to expect. So often we see two wrestlers go in there trying to slug it out, or we may see that one man has a decisive advantage in the wrestling department. What I do feel pretty sure of is that this one will be extremely competetive. The man with the better cardio could very well take this one home.
Winner: Mark Munoz via Decision
MARCUS AURELIO VS. EVAN DUNHAM
Much like the Simpson vs. Herman bout, this fight is going to tell me so much more about Dunham than it will Aurellio. Dunham is a stud prospect with an undefeated record of 8-0, having only been pushed to the scorecards once in his professional career. He already established he had what it took in the UFC by stopping a capable Per Eklund via TKO at UFC 95.
However, normally Dunham’s bread and butter is his submission arsenal and we all know what Aurellio’s forte is. He’s a decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt that has faced some of the toughest competition the lightweight division has had to offer over the years.
The experience and submission advantages go to Marcus, the momentum and unknown factors go to Dunham. This will be one to watch. Should be a great way to kick off what should be a great night of fights.
Winner: Evan Dunham via Decision
*Final Card Preview and Predictions Coming Soon!