UFC 102 Preview: The Main Card

Maia vs. Marquardt

Aug 26, 2009
Photo by Sherdog.com

Nate Marquardt.
Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt

The Breakdown: Title implications abound, as jiu-jitsu demigod Maia looks to lock up a date with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva by keeping Marquardt from a second date with the Baryshnikov of violence. At this point, Maia is a tough fighter to gauge, as his jiu-jitsu has proven so dominant that no one has forced him to show anything but his all-universe mat machinations. While Marquardt is a solid grappler in his own right, he is well out of his depth against Maia and must instead focus on using his strength and striking advantage in tandem to keep this fight upright. Otherwise, Marquardt will be padding Maia’s bank account by ending up on the wrong end of a “Submission of the Night” award.

The X Factor: No one knows anything about Maia’s striking or conditioning, and Marquardt has the style to keep this fight going long enough to get answers on both fronts. Plenty of fighters look like the second coming of Chuck Norris when they get to play by their own rules and just as many come crashing down to earth when the game changes on them. Sooner or later, Maia is going to have to step outside his kingdom, and Marquardt may just drag him out of it kicking, screaming and perhaps even tapping.

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The Bottom Line: This will be Maia’s toughest fight yet, but not even Marquardt busting out the pile driver again will be enough to save him from getting ensnared in the Brazilian’s web of tangled limbs and blocked airways. The difference maker this time around will be Maia’s wrestling, as Marquardt struggles to keep him at bay before learning the same lesson Chael Sonnen learned against Maia -- some of these jiu-jitsu guys have that wrestling stuff pretty well figured out.

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