UFC 102 Odds and Picks: A fight in UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira that holds a lot of interest for me is the Brandon Vera vs. Krzysztof Soszynski match-up.
This is a light heavyweight fight that will solidly place one of these fighters on the track towards the title. While Vera looked like he was on his way in the heavyweight division once, he eventually dropped weight to light heavyweight.
He was expected to start chewing up competition. So far, he has yet to dazzle and we are patiently waiting for him to make his break here. He's 10-3. While Vera is definitely talented and skilled, we're just waiting for consistently capable.
Overall, he remains quick, dangerous and threatening. Vera's fan's know he has devastating and somewhat unorthodox muay thai and a solid ground game to round himself out. We recognize his talent and we can see the potential in Vera, we just hope that he can put it all together. Fighting against Soszynski will definitely give him a chance to show us how seriously we should take him.
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On the other hand, Soszynski has had great exposure through "The Ultimate Fighter" and hasn't disappointed yet. While Soszynski's been around, but he's a fairly new face in the UFC. His overall record is 18-8-1 and in the UFC he's 3-0.
He's fought under a few different promotions, most notably IFL and had some exposure on Strikeforce. This will be Soszynski's second time on the main card PPV. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for Soszynski. His fans believe in him.
So does Dan Henderson. Soszynski's a humorous, well spoken guy that people are noticing. If he keeps submitting with authority and showing us his knock-out capability - like he did when he KO'd Andre Gusmao at UFC 98 - he'll definitely have the momentum to start challenging for a contender position.
When asked about Vera, Soszynski said, "He's probably the first person in the UFC that I'm fighting that's really well-rounded, from striking to wrestling to his jiu-jitsu. It's going to be a huge test for me, but I'm really excited for the opportunity. I'm looking forward to this fight. I think it's going to be fireworks. We're going to stand and bang and see what happens."
I expect Vera's takedown defense to be sharp Saturday night, as Soszynski is quite comfortable on the ground. I think Soszynski is showing some maturity here in the pre-fight game because I really don't think he would want to stand and trade with Vera. I think he would much rather press for the take him down and use his size and strength to control Vera while looking for the submission.
I expect Vera to look like the early aggressor and gain control of the stand-up, but I think Soszynski will weather it and get him down to control him from the top.
I'm putting another win in the column for Soszynski. Second round submission, I almost said by decision. Either way, money's on Soszynski. I like this underdog bet.