Is Couture/Coleman a wrestling or boxing match?
The last thing two wrestlers typically like to do in a mixed-style fight is wrestle: their advantage negated, their gas tanks run dry -- and quickly -- in the clinch and while jockeying for position. They resort to trading, and the best boxer-in-the-wrestler tends to win.
Neither Couture nor Coleman will be confused for kickboxers anytime soon: their three-round main event Saturday may come down to who gets tired first and eats the majority of combinations they’re too fatigued to avoid.
Is Couture’s fight frequency a factor?
While fighters generally sit on their hands, fighting only two or three times per year, Couture has hit the pedal on his remaining time in the cage: this will be his third fight in five months, with two having gone the full fifteen minutes. This could work in his favor -- timing and athletic efficiency tend to stay hydrated with activity -- or it could be asking too much of a body with 13 years invested in a grueling sport.
Is Marquardt Anderson’s biggest test?
Marquardt has improved in strides since a 2007 loss to Anderson Silva, displaying a comfort in his stand-up ability that some athletes can only find in the gym. If he beats Chael Sonnen Saturday, it will be impossible to argue anyone else is more deserving of a title bid -- particularly Vitor Belfort, who’s jumping ahead in line and meeting Silva in April.
Can Maia make a psychological recovery?
After an undefeated start in MMA, submission machine gun Demian Maia ran into Nate Marquardt in August and suffered his first loss -- and loss of consciousness -- in the cage. He’s physically healed, but it’s the psychological scars of a brutal KO loss and proof of vulnerability that can endanger fighters. Fighting Dan Miller is an especially tough rebound: Miller’s strength is his ground game, meaning that Maia could face some resistance where he’s normally most comfortable.
Is AKA too friendly for the 170-pound division?
If Mike Swick defeats Paulo Thiago Saturday, he’ll join teammates Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch as three men who could make a serious case for a shot at Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight title. In most instances, they’d be paired against one another in elimination -- but AKA, like many high-ranking camps in the sport, largely refuses to get incestuous in competition. It’s not a concern if they’re spread over the top ten, but the division is now top-heavy with that gym’s contenders. Will fans understand the pacifism?