Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira rebounded from his disappointing loss to Frank Mir in his fight with an exciting unanimous decision victory over Randy Couture in the main event of UFC 102 on Saturday at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon.
The pair went to war for the duration of the three-round bout, mixing it up on the feet with crisp striking that saw both legendary heavyweights connect with numerous combinations, while also showing off world class grappling when the fight hit the ground.
Nogueira proved to be too much for Couture on this night, as he was dropped to the canvas in the first and third rounds, and nearly submitted in both the first and second. “The Natural” fought through the chokes and survived the knockdowns to go the distance, but was unable to secure the finish he desperately needed to win the fight.
The judges awarded Nogueira a unanimous decision victory with scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 in what is certain to be the event’s “Fight of the Night”.
With the win, Nogueira improves to 32-5-1 and remains in the heavyweight title-hunt, while Couture falls to 16-10 in defeat and has now lost two-straight.
In the UFC 102 co-headliner, Thiago Silva bounced back from the first loss of his career earlier this year to Lyoto Machida with a first-round knockout of Keith Jardine. Silva, now 14-1 following the win, remains on the long list on contenders at 205-pounds, while Jardine drops to 14-6-1 and looks for answers after losing his second-straight and fourth in his last six fights.
Nate Marquardt needed just 21-seconds to knockout jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia in a battle of middleweight contenders on the UFC 102 main card, then promptly called out 185-pound champ Anderson Silva, though he’ll likely need to go through fellow-contender Dan Henderson to earn the rematch.
In other main card action, Jake Rosholt submitted a returning Chris Leben in the third-round to earn the first win of his UFC career, while Brandon Vera again looked lackluster at 205-pounds in picking up a unanimous decision over Krzysztof Soszynski to kick off the pay-per-view.
The UFC 102 prelims were highlighted by Todd Duffee’s record-setting 7-second knockout of Tim Hague in his UFC debut, snapping the promotion’s previous mark of 8-seconds held by James Irvin over Houston Alexander in 2008.
Aaron Simpson logged an impressive opening round against Ed Herman on the preliminary card, before improving to 6-0 on his young-career after Herman was unable to continue early in the second after suffering a knee injury.
Gabriel Gonzaga’s impressive first-round TKO of newcomer Chris Tuchscherer was marred by a brutal kick to the groin that nearly stopped the contest. Tuchscherer managed to continue after the accidental foul but wasn’t the same fighter, as he was quickly downed a head kick from Gonzaga and finished on the ground midway through the first.
Mike Russow, Mark Munoz, and Evan Dunham all picked up decision victories in the remaining preliminary fights.
The official results for UFC 102 were:
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira def. Randy Couture via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Thiago Silva def. Keith Jardine via KO (punches) — Round 1, 1:35
- Jake Rosholt def. Chris Leben via submission (arm-triangle) — Round 3, 1:30
- Nate Marquardt def. Demian Maia via KO (punch) — Round 1, 0:21
- Brandon Vera def. Krzysztof Soszynski via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Aaron Simpson def. Ed Herman via TKO (injury) — Round 2, 0:17
- Gabriel Gonzaga def. Chris Tuchscherer via TKO (strikes) — Round 1, 2:27
- Mike Russow def. Justin McCully via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-27)
- Todd Duffee def. Tim Hague via KO (punch) — Round 1, 0:07
- Mark Munoz def. Nick Catone via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
- Evan Dunham def. Marcus Aurelio via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Pictured: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira