Three heavyweight bouts add power to the UFC 102 under card, rounded out by two middleweight matches and a lightweight meeting. While star power does not run high on the following bouts, the hunger and potential for fireworks does.
Let’s break down the “Couture vs. Nogueira” under card.
Ed Herman (15-7) vs. Aaron Simpson (5-0): Here we have experience in Herman vs. a short, yet undefeated career in Simpson. This will be Simpson’s second fight in the UFC, as he was called up to the Octagon this year after delivering a quality knockout win previously in WEC (late 2008). Herman recently battered David Loiseau for three rounds and saved his spot on the UFC roster but has stated he feels as if he still has to prove he deserves to have a job through this fight against Aaron. “A-Train” will need to be well-rounded coming into this bout as Herman poses danger from all areas.
Gabriel Gonzaga (10-4) vs. Chris Tuchscherer (17-1): What a contrast we have here with these two heavyweights. Gonzaga was not too long ago at the pinnacle of his pro MMA career having defeated Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and earning a shot at the title. Couture, his opponent, dominated him from beginning to TKO ending in that championship match. He then went on to lose to Werdum (also by TKO), racked up a couple of wins against mid-tier fighters and suffered another brutal KO loss to Carwin this March. Gabriel is fighting to stay relevant while newcomer Chris Tuchscherer is on a solid rise in the sport. Tuchscherer trains out of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy and regularly is called into spar with behemoth champ Brock Lesnar. Chris has a strong wrestling base but knows how to finish fights too, with 13 of his victories coming by way of submission or TKO. Look for this fight to end on the ground either by Gonzaga submission or Tuchscherer ground-n-pound TKO.
Justin McCully (9-4-2) vs. Mike Russow (11-1): Russow has been dominating smaller shows for some time now and even made an appearance in PRIDE (to little fanfare). McCully has similar experience but has three fights in the Octagon under his belt (with a 2-1 record). Both men are large for the division and while McCully looks for the submission, Russow also prides himself on being able to work well on the ground. In fact, eight of Mike’s eleven wins have come by way of submission. This fight could very well put either man on the main card of their next event with an exciting win.
Todd Duffee (4-0) vs. Tim Hague (10-1): Rock ’em sock ’em match-up right here with two men looking to continue their win streaks and make a name for themselves in the UFC heavyweight division. Both Duffee and Hague possess submission skills but more often than not find themselves scoring Ws with the power in their hands. Expect this bout to end in an exciting fashion.
Nick Catone (7-1) vs. Mark Munoz (5-1): Both men are coming into this fight off of tough losses . Catone was finished off with a Tim Credeur guillotine choke and Munoz suffered one of the most brutal head kick KOs (from Hamill) ever seen inside the Octagon. Although Munoz has better name recognition for his NCAA wrestling accomplishments, Catone boasts a solid wrestling background as well and this could turn into a stand up battle if the take downs are continually stuffed. It’s important to keep in mind that this is Munoz’s middleweight debut and he has been training with the Nogueira brothers at Black House. Catone certainly has his work cut out for him in this fight and should exploit the stand-up for a shot at victory.
Marcus Aurelio (18-7) vs. Evan Dunham (8-0): Undefeated Oregonian wrestler Dunham will face perhaps the toughest test of his pro career in Aurelio this weekend. Aurelio was recently cut by the UFC for lackluster losses, albeit maintaining a reputation as a ground wizard. Now after two stoppage victories in smaller shows, he’s been asked to return to the big time. Dunham is well-rounded and not afraid to exert aggression. This could be Evan’s break-out fight or Aurelio’s chance to reverse his earlier fortune.