UFC 102 is not only the first UFC to take place in Portland, Oregon; it is arguably the most interesting card in terms of amount of angles despite not having a title fight. The show takes place at the Rose Garden Arena August 29th with a pay-per-view starting at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT.
Since UFC 103 will be the first UFC with the undercard broadcast on Spike this appears to be the last with a “dark” undercard.
In the main event former HW champions and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) coaches Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira face off in a clash reminiscent of the rivalry between the UFC and Pride. Nogueira is coming off his first UFC loss against Frank Mir last December by TKO for the interim HW title. Couture is coming off a loss to Brock Lesnar for the “regular” HW title. Both these fighters are legends and one deserves another title run but it has to be noted this is the second UFC card this year where the main event consists of two fighters coming off losses, a difficult hurdle to overcome in terms of respecting the main event.
Speaking of TUF several other vets fight on this card however the card isn’t centered on TUF up-and-comers like UFC 101 was. Ed Herman, Krzysztof Soszynski, Keith Jardine, and Chris Leben are all TUF vets however all had accomplishments prior to TUF and are much harder to consider “TUF vets” as main entries on their resumes at this point. Also notable regarding this angle is the TUF vets aren’t facing each other as Leben takes on WEC vet Jake Rosholt, Jardine faces Chute Boxe’s Thiago Silva, Soszynski fellow fan favorite Brandon Vera, and Herman takes on undefeated Aaron Simpson.
Speaking of undefeated Simpson this card gets back to showcasing several fighters who earned their shots the old fashioned way, by climbing the rankings and defeating worthy opponents. 5-0 Simpson defeated David Avellan in WEC before that show dispensed with the MW division, defeated former WEC champion Tim McKenzie in his UFC debut, and now faces Herman who is 4-4 in the UFC. In what is scheduled to be the first fight of the night former ROC champion Nick Catone and another WEC crossover Mark Munoz both come back after their first losses in their careers. Overall this card is much more solid than UFC 101.
This card also stands out as being one of the heaviest or in less kiss-up terms most lopsided regarding distribution of weight classes. Four HW, two LHW, and four MW fights leaves no room for WW or LW on this card. On the one hand this means more development in the weight classes said to draw the most casual fans but on the other hand the classes with a higher percentage of, to be polite, conditioning being a factor. This angle could turn out good or bad.
From a debut angle three fighters step into the octagon for the first time. Todd Duffee from American Top Team faces impressive Tim Hague who won his debut at UFC 98, Adrenaline headliner Mike Russow takes on vet Justin McCully, and YAMMA Pit Fighting finalist Chris Tuchscherer from Minnesota Martial Arts faces Gabriel Gonzaga, the man best known for his KO of Cro-Cop and subsequent HW title shot. This is roughly average for amount of UFC debuts on a card but arguably a step up in quality of such.
One unique angle to this show is that of “the ADCC Worlds fight” between Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia. Maia is the ’07 ADCC -87kg champion who along with Marquardt is confirmed to participate in the ’09 ADCC Worlds in September. Assuming there are no injuries to either fighter they will fight MMA this weekend and could face off in submission wrestling in just four weeks.