UFC 102 - COUTURE VS. NOGUEIRA
"Guerrilla's Pick" / GueRRillaFight.com - 8.25.09
What is an adept prognosticator to do about the upcoming Nogueira v. Couture main event bout? This fight is literally a nightmare to select as there are so many variables and unanswered questions surrounding both fighters that even my lucky coin stood on edge when I attempted to call it in the air.
One rule I follow with tremendous success is to never pick a fighter coming off a TKO loss in his last outing coupled with a layoff which disqualifies both warriors as Randy lost via TKO to Lesnar last November and Nog put in his worst looking performance ever as Mir vanquished him with a TKO last December. Another criteria I use is to stay away from a fighter who seems to be tailing off and has had many brutal wars from which to recover. Again, this leaves me scratching my follically challenged head as I wonder in absolute amazement when the sand will finally drain from the competitive hourglass on Captain America.
In the opposing corner, Nogueira was reportedly suffering from an injured leg and a staph infection in his dreadful showing against a sharp Mir just after Santa, but sure looked like a lummox lumbering around the octagon attempting to protect himself. His stand-up game completely deserted him and shots he once shrugged off staggered him and scrambled his faculties. Just plain ugly!
So, I look to the line for guidance and again no help as I'm actually a bit surprised to find Couture the favorite at -170 as he does tend to struggle against larger fighters who are skilled in submissions. Barnett, Ricco, and Lesnar all handled Randy and neutralized his dirty boxing. I would feel very comfortable selecting the intimidating Minotauro of Pride days but that line is cause for concern.
So I'm left to dissect strategies....Randy needs to assert himself early, dominate the clinch, cause damage to slow Nog, and transition well in scrambles avoiding the chokes. We know he'll be fit and have a master plan and a backup, but can he execute if the real former champion returns? Nogueira needs to be sharp in his boxing, don't let Randy dictate and bring the armor he once donned absorbing gut-wrenching ground and pound shots from Fedor. Get the fight to the ground in dominant position and wear out the light heavyweight while looking to choke.
My selection in this fight is going to be to give the nod to Nogueira and though Couture has burned me before (first Belfort fight ), and selecting 170 dogs has a very low success rate, I'm willing to throw out that last performance against Mir as Antonio bounces back and secures the victory against one of my favorite UFC fighters .......Minotauro by late choke or UD.
J.Seijas - GueRRillaFight.com