Can 46-year-old Couture neutralize Nogueira?

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

The world's biggest fight club breaks new ground tonight with its first show in Portland, Ore.

While UFC 102 might lack the storylines that have filled the past couple of events, it should produce a solid night of fights.

With that in mind, here are the Scrapyard predictions:

- Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira:

Two veteran statesmen of the sport each with nothing left to prove in their storied careers. Questions about retirement -- Couture is 46 and Nogueira 33 -- have dogged both fighters in the lead-up to their showdown and each is coming off a loss. Couture, a master tactician, will likely look to keep Nogueira pinned to the cage to neutralize the Brazilian's devastating ground game. Nogueira will take whatever punishment comes his way until he sees the opportunity to isolate a limb and clamp in a submission. If the fight goes the distance, Couture should get the nod.

PREDICTION: Couture by decision.

- Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva: At one point, this would have been a top contender fight to carve a path to the light-heavyweight belt. But with each fighter coming off a loss -- Jardine to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Silva to now-champ Lyoto Machida -- the loser will slip a few rungs on the ladder. Silva was undefeated before he fought Machida, but has notorious knockout power. Jardine is unpredictable, but also susceptible to knockouts.

PREDICTION: Silva by second-round KO.

- Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt: Hometown bad boy Chris "Crippler" Leben is back following his steroid suspension and needs a win to prove he belongs in the UFC. The troubled fighter lost to Michael Bisping last November and has been inactive following a positive test after the fight. Rosholt has a decent 5-1 record, but is coming off a loss to Dan Miller. Leben's heart and experience should lead him to victory. But he'll have to pass the post-fight pee test.

PREDICTION: Leben by first-round TKO.

- Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt: The best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC against the always-tough Marquardt. Despite Marquardt's tenacity, Maia's perfect record should move to 11-0. His ground game should prove too much for the seasoned Marquardt.

PREDICTION: Maia by second-round submission.

- Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Brandon Vera: Winnipeg's Soszynski has a devastating kimura and has yet to lose in the UFC. Vera, once touted as a top light-heavyweight contender, has been on a see-saw of late, with a 2-3 record in his last five fights. Soszynski, who trains with Oregon-based Team Quest, will also be seen as the hometown fighter.

PREDICTION: Soszynski by second-round submission.

JOSE.RODRIGUEZ@SUNMEDIA.CA


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