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UFC 102 preview:

Breaking down UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira

Looking at the big picture following UFC 102

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Andy Samuelson

Randy Couture, left, faces off against Antonio Nogueira Friday after weighing in for their UFC 102 main event bout at the Rose Garden Arena.

Back for the First Time

UFC Legend Randy Couture talk about his main event match against Antonio Nogueira headlining UFC 102 in Portland, Oregon. Couture, the Oregon native also talks about the UFC in Portland for the first time.

Fireside Chat with Dana White: UFC 102

UFC President Dana White is known for sitting down with media members at every pre-fight press conference to answer any and all questions about his organization. In our first installment of Fireside Chat, White discusses everything from a contract extension for Randy Couture, to Chuck Liddell on Dancing with the Stars.

UFC 102 Workouts

Randy Couture, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva work out for the media before Saturday's UFC 102 event in Portland, Oregon.

It’s not advisable for a fighter to look past his next fight.

Fans on the other hand, may do it all they want.

The heavyweight division is shaping up to be one of the most interesting to follow as 2009 plays out with another championship fight on the schedule for UFC 106 in November between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin.

So where would a win at UFC 102 place either Randy Couture or Antonio Nogueira in the top contender mix? Probably pretty high.

“They’re both in the heavyweight picture, they’re two of the top heavyweights in the world,” said UFC President Dana White. “I think an impressive win (Saturday) would make people interested in seeing them again.”

Also in the mix would be undefeated Cain Velasquez, who was originally scheduled to face Carwin at UFC 104 in October. Velasquez is now set to fight Ben Rothwell at that date instead.

Because White is committed to giving fans the fights they want to see, it’s seems likely that if Couture wins Saturday he would earn an immediate title shot, especially if the champion remains Lesnar.

Although Couture lost to Lesnar by TKO last November, the 46-year-old fighter was certainly holding his own until getting caught with a right hand to his temple in the second round.

“Couture wants that, he wants another shot because he thinks he’s figured out Lesnar,” White said. “When you think about the guys who have fought Lesnar so far, Couture was the most interesting. I watched that fight again and Randy almost took him down twice in the first round and both times Lesnar grabbed the fence.”

It would also seem likely that Couture would get the shot because if he doesn’t, he’d probably look to drop to the light heavyweight division.

As it sits it appears that Couture and Velasquez have the best chances of receiving the next title shot depending on how impressive they are in their next fights and which heavyweight emerges victorious from UFC 106.

However Nogueira would find himself right in the thick of it with a solid win over Couture on Saturday. A possibility that should not at all be counted out, taking into account Nogueira’s history of rising to the occasion against top opponents.

“I think your opponent motivates you,” Nogueira said. “When I faced Fedor (Emelianenko) and Cro Cop (Mirko Filipovic), I got in great shape. It’s the same now. I know who I’m fighting and I’ve got to get ready.”

Quick Hits:

These are two fighters who have had enormous amounts of success using two vastly different styles.

As a former three-time alternate for the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team, it’s no surprise that Couture utilizes the clinch against nearly all his opponents. The times he was winning in the Brock Lesnar fight were the times the two were in the clinch against the cage.

Nogueira, like many Brazlian fighters, will rely on Jiu-Jitsu more than wrestling once the fight moves the ground. His striking skills used to be fearsome, but through three fights in the UFC they have appeared to not be on the same level they were during his glory years of PRIDE.

Neither fighter feels uncomfortable on the ground, but it’s a good bet that Nogueira will look to take it there more than Couture, since Couture’s boxing skills might give him a slight advantage on their feet.

The winner of this fight will be the one who is able to control where the fight goes.

“He’s not one to lay around and wait to see what happens,” Couture said. “He’s going to come out and get after it and that tends to be my fighting style as well. We both have our strengths where we want to get the fight and I think we’ll both go out and try to have it our way.”

Last Time Out:

Randy Couture: lost to Brock Lesnar on Nov. 15 by TKO.

Antonio Nogueira: lost to Frank Mir on Dec. 27, 2008 by TKO

The Lines: Randy Couture: -160 Antonio Nogueira: +130

Final Words:

Randy Couture: On constantly being asked about his age: Sometimes it gets tiresome when my age comes up but it is what it is. I expect it every time now. Hopefully they won’t be saying the same thing when I’m 50.

Antonio Nogueira: On the main event: People are excited to watch this. I’ve been wanting to fight him for a long time. He’s one of the best fighters in the heavyweight division. Finally we’re going to face each other.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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