UFC 102 rolls into Portland, Ore., with an intriguing main card littered with hometown heroes, headlined by Washington native
Despite rumors of troubled ticket sales and the lack of a title fight to carry the card, UFC 102 is an outstanding collection of important fights that will affect the title picture.
Let's take a look at some of the questions that will be answered Saturday night.
While this fight may have been even more compelling a few years earlier when both were at the top of their game, Couture and Nogueira enter this fight with a singular purpose of returning to the top of the heavyweight division.
Each man lost a portion of the heavyweight title in his last fight, and with
Skill and ability are not questions for either man; both are veterans with a multitude of talents inside the ring and numerous noteworthy wins in their careers.
Still, you have wonder when age will catch up with each fighter.
Couture will enter the cage Saturday night at 46, 13-years older than his opponent. Though he has made a career of defying the idea of age, time eventually catches up with everyone.
Nogueira's 10-year career has included numerous wars and more rounds than you can count. His streak of never being stopped came to a halt against
With their name recognition and decorated careers, the winner will be on a short list of title contenders, while the loser will be at a career crossroads.
Over his past six fights, "The Dean of Mean" has alternated between wins and losses, following upsets of
A win over
That lone loss came the last time Silva entered the Octagon at UFC 94, when he was left looking up at the lights by current light heavyweight champion
Now, it's time for Silva to answer some questions of his own. Did he simply fall to a better opponent, or was his unblemished record a result of walking through weaker opposition?
Before Henderson and Bisping built their heat through "The Ultimate Fighter," this fight was viewed as a No. 1 Contender match, and rightfully so.
A black hole of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Maia is undefeated in his career, including going 5-0 with five submission wins since entering the UFC.
While some question how he will fare if this fight remains standing, those same questions have circled each of his previous encounters. And the answer has always been the same: Maia via submission.
For Marquardt, this fight is a chance to get back into the ring opposite Anderson Silva. After losing to the middleweight champion at UFC 73, the former King of Pancrase has gone 3-1 with wins over
The loss, a split decision to recently released
Finding a way to prevent Maia from imposing his will and dragging this fight to the ground is the true test for Marquardt. Even though every opponent knows that Maia is masterful on the ground and unproven on his feet, no one has managed dictate where the action takes places against the Brazilian.
Marquardt has the benefit of super strategist
However, Marquardt hasn't suffered a submission defeat in over six years despite competing at the top level in both Pancrase and the UFC, while his striking has looked lethal in earning stoppages in each of his last two fights.
This is actually the fight many fans want to see most, and with good reason. It has the makings of a terrific technical battle.
Since storming out of the gates to an 8-0 start, Vera has gone 2-3 in his past five fights, relocating to the light heavyweight division at the urging of the UFC three fights ago.
While he's won two of three matches since dropping to 205, wins over
Since losing to
Now Soszynski steps in on short notice for the second consecutive fight, filling the shoes of an injured