July 8, 2009: UFC 102 Card is Set

July 8, 2009: UFC 102 Card is Set
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UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira Saturday, Aug. 29 Rose Garden Arena Portland, Ore.

Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia Brandon Vera vs. Matt Hamill Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Chris Tuchscherer James Irvin vs. Wilson Gouveia Junior dos Santos vs. Justin McCully Todd Duffee vs. Michael Russow Mark Munoz vs. Nick Catone Matt Veach vs. Evan Dunham

Props: Sherdog.com

A showdown between heavyweight greats Randy Couture and Nogueira will headline UFC 102, which also features a light heavyweight scrap pairing Keith Jardine with Thiago Silva and a middleweight matchup pitting Nate Marquardt against Demian Maia.

Chris Leben will return from a nine-month, steroid-related suspension when he squares off with Jake Rosholt in a featured middleweight match at UFC 102 “Couture vs. Nogueira” on Aug. 29 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Ore.

Leben (18-6) lost to Michael Bisping by unanimous decision at UFC 89 in October and was subsequently suspended after he failed a UFC-administered post-fight drug test in Birmingham, England. The 28-year-old product of season one of “The Ultimate Fighter” had won back-to-back fights before the defeat and seemed to have turned a corner in his personal life, as well. Leben holds knockout victories against reigning Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago, welterweight contender Mike Swick and UFC, EliteXC and Strikeforce veteran Benji Radach.

A four-time All-American wrestler and three-time national champion at Oklahoma State University, Rosholt (4-1) entered mixed martial arts with plenty of fanfare. Based out of Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, the 26-year-old suffered his first career defeat in his promotional debut, when he succumbed to a Dan Miller guillotine choke at UFC Fight Night 17 in February.

In a showdown between UFC newcomers, unbeaten American Top Team product Todd Duffee will lock horns with Pride Fighting Championships veteran Michael Russow.

Duffee (4-0), another standout mixed martial artist spawned by the ATT-affiliated Hardcore Gym in Athens, Ga., has not competed in almost a year. However, he has finished all four of his opponents, including UFC veteran Assuerio Silva at Jungle Fight 11 in September. Duffee was originally scheduled to debut at UFC 99 in June but was pushed aside in favor of 2006 Pride open weight grand prix winner Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.

Russow (11-1, 1 NC) will carry a seven-fight winning streak into the match. The 32-year-old Chicagoan last appeared in December, when he submitted Braden Bice with a north-south choke at Adrenaline MMA 2. Russow -- who suffered his only career defeat to Sergei Kharitonov at Pride 33 -- has finished all seven of his opponents during his current streak, six of them inside one round.

Finally, Brazilian upstart Junior dos Santos will put his string of three consecutive victories on the line when he butts heads with Justin McCully.

Dos Santos (8-1) burst on the scene with his stunning first-round technical knockout victory against Fabricio Werdum in October. He returned to the Octagon in February and needed just 54 seconds to dispatch the 6-foot-11 Stefan Struve at UFC 95. A training partner of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, dos Santos has never gone the distance as a professional. The 23-year-old has delivered six of his eight victories by knockout or TKO.

McCully (9-4-2), a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, has posted five wins in six fights, including a unanimous decision against Eddie Sanchez in December. The 33-year-old has never been knocked out in 15 professional bouts.

Cageside's take:

Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Both fighters are coming off a loss. Couture by TKO - Rd 3.

Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva: Holy mackeral! Jardine NEVER gets an easy fight. It's as if the UFC has a vendetta against him. Silva via KO - Rd 2

Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt: Rosholt is an awesome wrestler, but so far the rest of his game looks incomplete, but he has an iron chin. Rosholt via decision

Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia: WOW! This is an incredible match up. Maia has submitted his last 400 opponents. Can Nate avoid a submission? Nate via decision.

Brandon Vera vs. Matt Hamill: Another good match up. Vera via TKO rd. 2

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Chris Tuchscherer: Gonzaga is fighting for his UFC life. Gonzaga via KO - rd 2

James Irvin vs. Wilson Gouveia: Gouveia via guillotine, rd 1

Junior dos Santos vs. Justin McCully: dos Santos by KO rd 3

Todd Duffee vs. Michael Russow: ??

Mark Munoz vs. Nick Catone: Catone is too slick. Wins via submission, rd 1

Matt Veach vs. Evan Dunham: ???

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