We’re back! Another week, another Heavy MMA Roundtable. The topic at hand – UFC 109. We’ve brought in the experts to break down the real issues surrounding this historic card where two UFC Hall of Fame members will tangle in the Octagon for the first time.
– Jeremy Botter: Lead MMA Writer for Heavy.com
– Hector Castro: Host of The Ground and Pound Podcast
– Nate Lawson: Feature MMA contributor for Heavy.com
– Matt Brown: Senior MMA Editor for Heavy.com
Topic 1 – Many are assuming the Matt Serra and Frank Trigg match is a “loser leaves town” match. Do you think the guy that loses should retire from professional MMA?
Lawson: If Serra loses, he should just go back to his gym. If Trigg loses, he should find a commentary gig. Either way, the loser should seriously consider retirement from MMA.
Botter: I’m not sure it’s fair to say that one of these guys should retire after a loss, especially when the main event of the same card features two guys who are ten years older than Serra or Trigg.
Brown: I think it is probably inevitable that the loser of this bout will seriously consider retirement. I’d never say they should, but MMA is trending towards being a young mans game. In two or three years, the talent level is going to be unreal and the older guys will find it harder and harder to compete.
Castro: No, I don’t necessarily think the loser of the match would need to retire. Both fighters can still fight at a high level and both bring charisma into the Octagon that fans love to see starting from the top of the UFC food chain with Dana White. Despite not being title contenders, they still can handle most of the talent within their division.
Lawson: Serra’s heavy hands and jiu-jitsu should be enough to dictate this fight. Serra via unanimous decision.
Botter: I think we’re going to see a slugfest, and I think Matt Serra has heavier hands. Matt Serra by TKO in the 2nd.
Brown: I don’t see fireworks in store for this one. My gut tells me Trigg by decision.
Castro: Trigg grinds out a split decision victory.
Topic 2 – Of the four guys on the SpikeTV broadcast (Ronys Torres, Melvin Guillard, Justin Buchholz, Mac Danzig), which fighter do you feel has the brightest future in the UFC?
Botter: Justin Buchholz has plenty of personality, and personality will take you a long way in this sport. But he has to win his fights, and the fact that he’s riding a two-fight losing streak can’t help.
Brown: I still feel Melvin Guillard has some game left in him. We all know he has power. He’s only 26 with over 30 fights under his belt. Add to that the fact that he’s now training under Greg Jackson, I think we might see a more complete Melvin Guillard.
Castro: Despite have loads of potential, Guillard and Danzig are barely treading water lately. Buchholz has really struggled against the lower half of the division. The easy answer here has to be Ronnys Torres. This 23-year-old is a mastermind on the ground and has shown improvement with his hands. If they can catch up to his ground game, we have a potential title contender here.
Lawson: Ronnys Torres has only lost once in 15 professional fights, so I would give him the nod. Not like he has much competition out of that group, though.
Botter: Justin Buchholz over Mac Danzig by decision and Ronys Torres over Melvin Guillard by submission.
Brown: Guillard by KO in the 2nd and Buchholz beats Danzig via decision.
Castro: Danzig submits Buchholz via Rear Naked Choke in the 2nd round. Torres submits Guillard via Guillotine choke in the 3rd round.
Lawson: Torres via unanimous decision and Danzig via unanimous decision.
Topic 3 – We’ve all seen Demian Maia dazzle with his world-class BJJ. But after the Marquardt fight, he lost quite a bit of the momentum he had going. Do you consider Maia a true contender in the division, or does his lack of a striking game prevent him from being a legitimate threat?
Castro: With the rapid growth of MMA, many fighters have taken their development of all aspects of MMA seriously. Demian Maia hasn’t been able to establish his hands as a major weapon in his arsenal. Because of that, he has gone with what works for him. Unfortunately, everyone knows what his game plan is going to be. Until he establishes his striking, Maia will be a solid fighter but not a contender.
Botter: Maia’s jiu-jitsu skills serve him well against most of the middleweight division. But you need more than jiu-jitsu to compete at the highest levels of the division, which is why I can’t consider him a contender at this point.
Lawson: Though his striking game is sub-par to say the least, I certainly consider him a top contender. His jiu-jitsu is just too good.
Brown: Had I been asked this six months ago, I would have said that Maia was a contender based solely on his jiu-jitsu. Nobody could figure him out. Enter Nate Marquardt to cover me in doubt. Unless Demian shows me vastly improved striking on Saturday, I’ll have a tough time considering him a title contender.
Brown: I say Maia tricks Miller into taking the fight to the ground and slaps on a triangle in the first.
Castro: Dan Miller wins via TKO (Punches) in the 3rd round.
Lawson: Maia’s submission game will take over once again, and Miller just won’t be able to handle it. Maia via submission in Round 2.
Botter: Demian Maia over Dan Miller by submission, round 1.
Topic 4 – Is fighting Paulo Thiago a no-win situation for Mike Swick? Thiago is a very dangerous opponent that lacks big-time name value – the kind of opponent that if you win, some will discredit, and if you lose, some will start to think you’re really not that good.
Botter: It’s a very dangerous situation for Mike Swick, most notably because there’s a good chance he loses this fight. The Countdown show did a world of good in building up Paulo Thiago as an interesting character, so I don’t think it will be as damaging as some might think.
Brown: It is certainly one of those “tricky” fights. Thiago did get a boost by the Countdown show, but the vast majority of the casual fans don’t catch those. So, yes, I think Swick is in a weird spot with this fight. Fighting a really good “nobody” is not the situation you want to be in if you’re looking for a title shot like Mike Swick.
Castro: After losing his title shot due to a disappointing performance at UFC 105, Swick is going to be more focused than ever on getting a victory. There are no easy fights in the UFC, which Thiago showed Swick’s AKA teammate Josh Koscheck. Beating guys like Thiago (name recognition or not) is just part of the gig.
Lawson: If Swick wins, he doesn’t get a title shot, and if he loses, that will be two in a row for him. I don’t think this is a very good fight at all for “Quick” except for the chance to redeem AKA teammate Josh Koscheck.
Brown: Swick via TKO early in round 1.
Thiago has a heavy uppercut that should keep Swick on his toes. On the ground, I don’t see much of a comparison. Thiago via unanimous decision.
Botter: Paulo Thiago via decision.
Castro: Mike Swick wins via TKO (punches) in the first round.
Topic 5 – Dana White has officially announced that the winner of Nate Marquart vs. Chael Sonnen will fight for the title against the winner of Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort. It would be hard to argue that Marquardt isn’t deserving, but should Sonnen pull out the fight, does he deserve that fight?
Lawson: Sonnen’s wins over Yushin Okami and Dan Miller are certainly nothing to scoff at. A win over Marquardt would make him worthy of a title shot in my book.
Botter: Sonnen beating Marquardt would be huge, and he would definitely deserve the title fight. Beating Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt consecutively should automatically make you the number one contender, and Sonnen has the verbal skills to make a potential bout with Silva an interesting one.
Brown: Love him or hate him, Chael Sonnen can fight. And consecutive wins over top-ten guys Marquardt and Okami would put him right at the top. There would be sexier fights out there for sure, but probably nobody more deserving.
Castro: Chael Sonnen hasn’t proven himself against any top talent that the UFC has to offer. This bout will answer all those questions. Nate Marquardt is one of the few fighters with a legit shot at beating Anderson Silva. If Sonnen can beat Marquardt, then he deserves a shot at Silva, but I highly doubt that will happen.
Brown: I have Marquardt winning every phase of this fight. I say Marquardt by submission in the 2nd.
Castro: Marquardt wins via TKO (punches) in the 2nd round.
Botter: Nate Marquardt over Chael Sonnen by TKO, round 1.
Lawson: Sonnen is tough, but Marquardt has come too far to look back now and will dictate this fight from the opening bell. Marquardt via unanimous decision.
Topic 6 – And finally, do you think the casual fan will appreciate Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman? Certainly die-hards are excited about seeing the two legends in the cage. But, given that most of Couture’s and Coleman’s bodies of work were formed a few years back, will the guy that just started watching MMA a year ago really care about this one?
Botter: The casual fans love Randy Couture, so fan interest in his bouts will automatically be a high level, no matter who his opponent is. The UFC has done a tremendous job of selling this bout as a landmark moment in the history of the sport, and I think that’s going to translate into plenty of interest from the casual fanbase. It’s not going to do a gigantic number on pay per view or anything, but I think it will be respectable.
Brown: I think there will be a ton of huge MMA fans out there that aren’t going to be going bananas for this fight like myself. Who are these die-hards that are not going to appreciate such a monumental battle? They’re called seniors…in high school. Sophomores in college. Kids, who love MMA to death, but were hardly out of diapers when Randy and Mark were wrecking people. So, I say it’s a huge fight to about half of the fan base.
Castro: There is a storyline here that is a bit intriguing to any type of MMA fan. The first time two active UFC Hall of Famers face each other in the Octagon. But is this match-up enough to carry a PPV event? No. The UFC has had to pad the card with several other good fights in order to ensure sales. At least this is what Dana White is hoping guarantees that all types of fans will tune in on Saturday to watch this card.
Lawson: Couture certainly has the name-recognition, but I don’t think the casual fans will be as pumped about this match up as the hardcore one. That being said, I still believe the casual fan will be tuning in.
Lawson: Couture is a master at putting together the perfect game plan. He should be able to grind out a decision over Coleman. Couture via unanimous decision.
Castro: Couture wins by unanimous decision.
Botter: Mark Coleman by decision.
Brown: Randy just seems to find ways to win, even when I think he loses (Vera fight). Couture wins a unanimous decision.