Matt Serra vs. Frank Trigg?170 lbs.
This is a matchup of a former welterweight champion and a fighter who had two chances to win a welterweight championship himself. Matt ?The Terror? Serra?s most recent victory came when he upset Georges St. Pierre in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. Unfortunately for Serra, this fight happened in 2007, so he has not had the winning feeling for some time. Frank ?Twinkle Toes? Trigg has had only one fight since returning to the UFC and was handed a TKO loss by welterweight contender Josh Koscheck. Trigg does have very good wrestling and Serra is a very good Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, but this will likely be more of a standup fight. I do not see Trigg trying to take this fight to the floor, and it will likely be a fight with a few bursts but will not be overly exciting.
Prediction- Serra by split decision
Demian Maia vs. Dan Miller?185 lbs.
Maia vs. Miller features two Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu black belts and should be a great ground battle. Maia has some of the best BJJ in the entire UFC so this will be one of the few times where Miller does not have a distinct ground advantage. Maia?s last fight was a loss to Nate Marquardt and Miller?s was a loss to Chael Sonnen. Marquardt and Sonnen are ironically fighting each other this night as well. Maia?s loss to Marquardt was a very quick and devastating knockout, so if Miller is wise he will try and keep this fight standing. Maia?s chin has now been tested and this matchup may come down to how much the New Jersey native, Miller, has improved his standup.
Prediction- Maia by submission
Mike Swick vs. Paulo Thiago?170 lbs.
This fight was originally expected to be a rematch between Josh Koscheck and Paulo Thiago. Koscheck was injured during training and would not be able to have trained well enough to be ready to fight on this date, so his teammate and fellow welterweight contender Mike ?Quick? Swick has filled in. Swick lost his chance at a title shot by not defeating Dan Hardy in November. This is a good test for Swick to show that he belongs among the divisions? elite. Thiago will have faced every American Kickboxing Academy welterweight after this fight, after already having won by T.K.O. against Josh Koscheck and losing to Jon Fitch by decision. His win vs. Koscheck was controversial as it seemed Josh was still able to fight, and his only other UFC victory was against Jacob Volkmann. These are two reasons why many question how good Thiago really is. If he defeats Mike Swick, he will have solidified himself as a top-10 welterweight and will put him back on the path for a title shot. Swick is known for a great burst right out of the gate, and I expect him to continue his quick and powerful game plan against Thiago.
Prediction- Swick by knockout
Nate Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen?185 lbs.
Team Jackson?s Nate ?The Great? Marquardt will take on Team Quest product Chael Sonnen in a matchup of fighters who have recently had very impressive wins. Since Marquardt lost to Thales Leites in the summer of 2008, he is 3-0 with victories over Martin Kampmann, Wilson Gouveia, and Demian Maia - all three were stoppages due to punches. Marquardt?s aggressive style and with a great coach in Greg Jackson have made Nate arguably the best middleweight fighter outside of Anderson Silva. Marquardt believes those are the type of fights he should be having, and is upset with his matchup vs. Sonnen. Even though he feels this fight is unnecessary, if he looks past Sonnen he will not come out with a victory. Sonnen has recently beat Yushin Okami and Dan Miller by decision. Chael has great wrestling and working with Dan Henderson gives him a great coach who has experience converting Olympic caliber wrestling into mixed martial arts success. If Chael is able to use his wrestling advantage a ground and pound style fight could be in store and an upset victory for Sonnen may occur. However, if Marquardt is able to keep it standing he has a distinct advantage on the feet. Expect Sonnen to try for takedowns in every round, but will get stuffed and eventually knocked out.
Prediction- Marquardt by knockout
Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman?205 lbs.
The two elder statesmen of the light heavyweight division do not have many fights left in their 45+ year-old bodies. Both were world class wrestlers before entering the UFC and both are UFC Hall of Famers. These two fighters have paved the way for many collegiate and Olympic wrestlers to succeed in the UFC. Coleman and Couture have proven that wrestling is one of the best backgrounds to have in the UFC and it is hard to believe that these two have yet to cross paths. Randy ?The Natural? Couture recently defeated Brandon Vera and Mark ?The Hammer? Coleman beat Stephan Bonnar?both were by unanimous decision. In this fight, whoever is able to control the octagon and score a few takedowns will likely come out victorious. Neither has much knockout power left in their hands and this fight will likely end in a decision with the resilient Couture coming out on top.*
Prediction- Couture by unanimous decision