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понедельник, 31 августа 2009 г.

UFC 102 Couture vs Nogueira Review

UFC 102 was one of the best shows I've seen in a while even though apparently it did not make the numbers Dana White wanted to see. Impressive knockouts and most notably of course the spectacular KO of Demian Maia by Nate Marquardt in the Middleweight division. The fastest KO ever in UFC history, apparently only 7 seconds in to the first round. Of course a real setback for Demian, who has the best brazilian jiu jitsu in the UFC but has clearly shown his lack of striking skills which he will have to improve fast if he wants to progress further in MMA.

The fight that was supposed to make the night special, Couture vs Nogueira, did make a hell of a night. So much speculation and so many predictions for this fight were made that it is hard to include them all here. One most obvious fact was according to almost everone Couture was supposed to win this fight comfortably. The UFC SMS poll showed that something like 75% of the fans voted that Couture would win.

Big Nog is one of my favourite fighters and of course with his previous performance and the rumor that he got KOd in training, I was really disappointed. The Minotauro that we saw however in UFC 102 was not the same guy that got knocked out by Frank Mir. This was a tough guy who has successfully recovered from the staff infection and the knee injury. Clearly Nog trained a lot for this fight and although we perhaps did not see the Minotauro of the Pride days when he fought the Last Emperor, he looked strong, dominating both in the striking and on the ground.

Antonio Rodrigo Minotauro met Randy Couture in the headline non-championship fight in UFC 102. Randy looked his usual self, strong and I think the same guy that fought Brock Lesnar. This was the same Randy. He looked sharp but Nogueira simply outclassed him. In the first round, Nogueira proved his boxing is superior but also took some solid one-twos from Randy to the chin. This didn't affect Nog however and at some point they even engaged in some brutal striking, toe to toe. Minotauro proved to be the stronger man and sent Randy to the canvas but was unable to finish him as Randy was able to control Nogueira and recover. Randy's age was perhaps a factor here of course.

Later in to the second and third round we saw some very close submissions from Nogueira, securing first a D'arce choke which Couture incredibly managed to escape and later an arm-triangle. Nogueira also displayed some impressive sweeps from his very dangerous guard. He made them look incredibly easy. It was amazing. As a result Nogueira mounted Couture and dominated him on the ground for most of the second and third round.

Overall critics will say that Randy's age was a factor in this fight but really we all knew how old he was when he went in and everybody bet on Couture. Nogueira was the superior fighter last weekend, no doubt about it. Can Big Nog take on Lesnar? Well I think he still needs to improve his conditioning and in particular speed. He looked a bit gassed in the middle of the second round and I think speed and cardio is something that would help against a monster like Brock Lesnar. If Big Nog can sweep Lesnar from the guard and submit him, this could be a very different game. The problem was with Mir in my opinion is that he got taken down by Lesnar and could not maintain control and literally survive on the bottom. Lesnar took him down and kept striking and made sure he could not escape.

Can Nogueira be Champ? Some room to improve still but he could have a good chance here. Good luck to him.

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