UFC 102 will be upon us next weekend, and this will be Zuffa's third event in the month of August. The event doesn't seem to have a lot of hype around it right now, probably all the other MMA news have been soaking up the headlines. At first glance, it looks like a solid card on paper with no title fight. However, if we peer a bit closer, this event has a lot of things that could impact Zuffa in the short run. Let's check'em out:
- Randy Couture/Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira-There's not really much we can say about this fight, other than it would have been better had it happened 5-6 years ago. I'm still intrigued by the fight though, because Nogueira is quite possibly my favorite heavyweight fighter ever. The winner of this fight is right back in the mix in terms of getting a title shot against the formidable Brock Lesnar. Whereas the loser of this fight probably either faces retirement(depending on how they lose) or settling on becoming a gatekeeper for what was once a weak heavyweight division. There's no doubt that a Couture/Lesnar re-match would probably do decent numbers, and a Nogueira/Lesnar fight would probably do slightly less PPV wise. However, they would be able to promote either fight using the Couture was hanging with Lesnar until he got clipped angle, or hyping the submission game of Nogueira against Lesnar. This should be a good one
- Thiago Silva/Keith Jardine-There's nothing really that sticks out about this fight. In fact, I thought that Maia/Marquardt deserved to be the co-main event. Regardless, a loss for Silva here derails what little of his hype train that remains. A win for Jardine keeps his streak in tact of losing one and winning one. I expect Jardine to wreck Silva, but then again it's Jardine we are talking about.
- Nate Marquardt/Demian Maia-Well, it seems as if Dan Henderson has received first dibs on a re-match with Anderson Silva. However, I think the winner of this fight deserves that fight with Silva waaaay more than Henderson. We have Maia going up against the best opponent he has ever faced. We'll finally get to see if his willingness to using a one dimensional approach will come back to haunt him. For Marquardt, it's a another chance to prove that he deserves another shot at Anderson Silva, or at least a shot at Dan Henderson for the right to face Silva.
- Brandon Vera/Krzysztof Soszynski-Soszynski is taking this fight on short notice since Matt Hamill got injured. This fight is basically about Brandon Vera continuing his ascent back up the LHW ladder. An impressive win here puts him into a position to face someone of stature. A potential fight with the likes of Luiz Cane, Rich Franklin, or a re-match with Keith Jardine seems like a good idea.
The undercard will feature Gabriel Gonzaga trying to right the ship since getting KTFO against Shane Carwin. This card also features fighters with ties to the Northwest in Ed Herman and Chris Leben. Overall I think it's very solid card that could possibly do around 450K-500K. I think this card will take a hit financially with it being the second Zuffa PPV within the same month. There are reports that there are still plenty of tickets available for the event as well. I expect Zuffa to sell around 12K-13K and probably paper a couple of thousand to help fill the venue that seats close to 20K.
Also, don't forget that we'll be provided live commentary with the open thread and discussion for UFC 102 as we do for all the major events. Also, we'll be getting out picks in for the MMA4Real betting game, so get your game faces on! If you would still like to join our fight camp, it's not too late to do so. What fight on this card are you looking forward to the most?