Is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira done?
Nogueira is like something out of children’s television -- a leather boot that talks. Active since 1999, he’s taken more physical abuse than a crash test dummy. (Watch his 2002 fight with Bob Sapp, then marvel at how he can still dress himself.) A career in the trenches seemed to have caught up with him against Frank Mir last December; he’s had the better part of the year off to gather his bearings.
He can afford a loss -- a 2-2 UFC record isn’t cause for extradition -- but he can’t afford an ugly one.
Is Demian Maia the best jiu-jitsu artist in MMA?
There is a fluidity and arrangement to Demian Maia's jiu-jitsu that is often found in high-level grappling tournaments but not nearly as much in MMA. This is because intricate set-ups often fall victim to their orchestrator getting punched in the eye. Maia makes it work: he manages to fight his fight, manipulating opponents like a Rubik’s Cube while avoiding trouble.
Nate Marquardt is the most trouble he’s ever had: if Maia can lock him up, he makes a strong case for being the most enviable one-dimensional fighter in the sport.
Can a non-title headliner draw business?
The UFC does not release official buy rates, but plenty of conjecture gets thrown around. If recent numbers circulated are anywhere near accurate, events with non-title bouts (Franklin/Silva, Jackson/Jardine, Henderson/Franklin) drew homes in the 350,000 range; events with title cappers (Evans/Machida, Silva/Leites, St-Pierre/Penn) attracted a minimum 600,000 purchases. Champions usually get the bulk of attention and PR push: the fact that Nogueira and Couture have nothing on the line beyond intangible historical stroke may wind up selling them -- and the event -- short.
Can Brandon Vera live up to his own hype?
Swagger is nothing new to the sport, but Vera takes it to new strides: despite a mixed record in recent appearances, he’s still adamant he’ll hold two belts at once. Fighting Krzysztof Soszynski, a roughneck fighter with a perfect UFC record, puts him in serious danger of eating those words.
Age doesn’t matter for Randy Couture. Does size?
Couture’s senior discount at IHOP notwithstanding, he’s remarkably durable for a man of his age and experience. Considering Nogueira appears just as old due to battle wear, reflexes and agility may be a wash: physically, Couture will have to deal with the 20-25 lb. weight advantage Nogueira possesses. Standing, that’s not such a problem. On the ground, it may feel like 50.