UFC 109: Relentless - Mandalay Bay Events Centre, Las Vegas
UFC 109 is already guaranteed to be a record breaker for the promotion - the combined ages of its Main Event fighters come to a whopping 91 years, as Randy "The Natural" Couture and Mark "The Hammer" Coleman, two veterans of the Octagon finally fight each other.
Also on the card, middleweight title hopeful Nate Marquardt looks to advance his claim for a second shot at champion Anderson Silva, and New Yorker Matt Serra comes off back to back defeats to two legends of the welterweight division aiming to experience victory for the first time since April 07.
Couture last fought in Manchester when beating Brandon Vera via unanimous decision, in his first fight since dropping back to 205lbs. Coleman's second stint in the UFC has seen him lose to fellow Pride acquisition Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, and subsequently beat Stephen Bonnar. Couture's recent experience of top level competition sees him go in as a 1/5 favourite, with Coleman at 10/3. This fight was originally intended to take place at UFC 17, in 1998, but was cancelled due to an injury to Couture. Finally the relevant Hall-of-Famers' offspring will be able to back up the boast "my dad could have your dad". Read the full preview here.
Canadian fighter Nate Marquardt faces Chael Sonnen to fine tune the middleweight rankings; Marquardt certainly has his eyes on Silva's belt and following his crushing KO defeat of Demian Maia at UFC 102, looked likely to get the second title shot he craves. However, the re-signing of Vitor Belfort meant he was pushed down the pecking order, and now Chael Sonnen, fresh off a convincing victory over Yushin Okami at UFC 104, has a chance to throw a spanner in the works. Former King of Pancrase Nate "The Great" has a more well rounded game than Sonnen, who relies heavily on his wrestling, which earnt him a place as an alternate on the USA Olympic team. Marquardt is a 2/7 shot, Sonnen 12/5, read the full preview here.
Two men unlikely to be getting further title shots anytime soon go head to head in Matt Serra and Frank Trigg; however, that doesn't mean this fight should be overlooked. Plenty of trash-talking and the natural desire to put on a show held by both men means this could be a cracker. Serra has lost his last two fights to Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre and needs a win to consolidate his position in the welterweight division; Trigg has two defeats to Hughes on his resume and marked his recent return to the UFC with a first round TKO loss to Josh Koscheck. Both fighters have had their pride hurt by losses and will be determined to make amends; Serra is at 8/13, Trigg 6/5 and the full preview is here.
Completing the main card are two more top quality fights in Swick - Thiago and Maia - Miller. Demian Maia is one of the most technically gifted fighters in the UFC, his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is of a standard far surpassing the average no-gi grapplers who describe themselves as BJJ fighters. Unfortunately this was of little use to him when, in his last fight, he spotted Nate Marquardt's right fist arcing towards his chin, too late to do anything other than take the blow like a man, and collapse to the floor like a beaten one. However, he should have what it takes to defeat Dan Miller, as reflected by his price of 2/7. Miller, at 12/5, has a solid wrestling game but will need to out-strike Maia to win.
The final fight on the main card sees Mike Swick step in for injured American Kickboxing Academy team mate Josh Koscheck to attempt to avenge Kos's defeat to Paulo Thiago. Thiago dropped Koscheck with a short uppercut, upsetting the odds in their fight, and as 13/8 outsider will need to do the same here. Swick recently lost to another capable striker in Britain's Dan Hardy, but goes in as 4/9 favourite. Swick can take a lot of confidence from his all round game and competence in every area, but personally I'd be thinking "Thiago works for the elite special police force in Brasilia... gulp". I think this fight is more open than the betting suggests, and the 13/8 about Thiago looks reasonable value.
The preliminary card features TUF 6 winner , and owner of a three fight losing streak Mac Danzig taking on Alaskan Justin Buchholz, TUF 2 alumnus Melvin Guillard fighting Ronnys Torres, who makes his debut in the UFC following eight straight wins in Brazilian competition, and UFC newcomers Chris Tuchscherer and Tim Hague looking to progress in the heavyweight division.