UFC 122 Preview: Marquardt vs. Okami Main Card Breakdown

November 13, 2010

UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami” marks the Las Vegas based mixed martial arts promotion’s second trip to the Western European front. Returning to Germany, UFC 122 is headlined by a top contenders match between Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami with a title shot on the line.

The 11-bout fight card is filled with international talent featuring fighters from 11 different nationalities. Held live at the Konig Pilsener Arena on Nov. 13 in Oberhausen, Germany, the event will air on same day tape delay in the U.S. on Spike TV and on ESPN in the U.K..

Kicking off the pay-per-view portion of the card are light heavyweights Krzysztof Soszynski and Goran Reljic.

Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Goran Reljic
Reljic makes his return to the 205-pound division after dropping down to middleweight and losing back-to-back fights.

Soszynski is coming off a loss to Stephan Bonnar at UFC 116 in July and wants to rebound with a win over the Croatian kickboxer. A loss will likely result in a pink slip from Zuffa, terminating the loser’s contract. Their jobs are on the line.

Reljic is kickboxer who needs space to execute his craft. He has devastating kicks, but Soszynski trained at Team Quest, notorious for turning out successful mixed martial artists who are experts in the wrestling aspect of the game.  He now works out of Mark Munoz’s Reign Training Center

Look for Soszynski to close the distance and grind on Reljic in the clinch, possibly turning the bout into a war or attrition.

Reljic was absent from competition for nearly two years after suffering a serious back injury in 2008. He’s lost two in a row since coming back, and hasn’t looked the same.

He used to be able to move in and out quickly and choose his shots to pick his opponents apart, but hasn’t shown the same promise in his 185-pound bouts. Maybe returning to the light heavyweight division will resurrect his career, but I see Soszynski pulling out a decision.

The odds makers pegged the match-up as a “pick em.”

Amir Sadollah vs. Peter Sobotta
Sobotta is coming off back-to-back losses and his UFC employment could be on the line when he faces “The Ultimate Fighter 7: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest” winner at UFC 122.

But don’t let the back to back loses fool you, Sobotta is an aggressive striker who likes to throw kicks. His weapon of choice is his left leg, but isn’t afraid to let his hands go. He has good submission defense as he showed in his UFC 115 loss to James Wilks. The Polish-German descendant is strong in the clinch and active on the ground with excellent grappling and submission skills.

He likes to go for single-leg takedowns to get the fight to the canvas where he’s most comfortable and most dangerous.

Sadollah is well-rounded and doesn’t mind striking against stand-up specialists. He utilizes his jab well and mixes in push kicks to keep his opponents at distance. With Sobotta’s tendency to latch on to a single leg, Sadollah may not be able to use his powerful kicks, push kick, and knees in the clinch as effectively as he has in the past.

Sadollah has a definite edge in the conditioning department. Sobotta looks to fade some in fights and that will likely be what gets him in trouble against Sadollah.

Expect a competitive bout with Sadollah winning by decision or a late stoppage.

The odds makers have Sobotta as a +250 underdog. If you’re looking for an upset pick, this could be the one.

Andre Winner vs. Dennis Siver
This match-up should be a crowd pleaser with both Siver and Winner willing to stand and bang.

Siver’s a brawler. He has the most success moving forward and winging punches and kicks. On the ground he employs a relentless ground and pound game from the top position.

Winner is the more technical striker of the two with a precision right hand. He possesses good takedown defense and he’ll also enjoy a speed advantage against Siver.

This really comes down to technique. Winner should be able to pick Siver apart standing and win via technical knockout if he doesn’t allow Siver to turn the fight into a brawl. As long as Winner sticks to what he does best, which is box and move, he’ll win. Where he could get in trouble is he has a tendency of dropping his hands in fights and Siver’s not a guy you want to do that against.

The odds show Siver as a slight favorite, but I think they have it wrong.

Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara
This match-up has the makings of a potential Fight of the Night candidate. Rivera has rejuvenated his career as of late and is riding a three-fight win streak heading into UFC 122, as is Sakara.

Both fighters don’t mind standing toe-to-toe with opponents and slugging it out, and that’s likely what we’ll see on Saturday.

Rivera may have more weapons standing but what Sakara does he does well. He’s a good counter puncher and packs enough power to end a fight with a single shot. Rivera moves forward constantly applying pressure but may play into Sakara’s style.

On the ground the American Top Team trained Sakara should have an advantage, although, Rivera has made improvements in that department. I don’t anticipate much of the action taking place on the ground, but if it goes there, Sakara should be fine.

This fight could come down to who lands that clean shot first. Rivera’s stance is tall and he doesn’t have the best head movement in the game and tends to get hit.

Sakara should come away with a decision if not a TKO.

The odds makers have this fight as basically a pick em bout with a slight edge for Rivera. I have it with a slight edge for Sakara.

Nate Marquardt vs. Yushin Okami
The main event features two fighters who have set up permanent residence in the middleweight top ten for years, Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami.

Both are known for their size and strength but neither will likely enjoy that edge in the title shot elimination bout.

Marquardt throws big right hands and unleashed combinations of punches and kicks. Okami’s a south paw who really only has one combination, a one-two, but is effective with it. He dropped former titleholder Evan Tanner with it. It’s not fancy but it’s straight and accurate.

Both are accomplished grapplers. Both have good clinch games, but this is where Okami excels.

The winner will likely be decided by who controls the distance. If Marquardt can keep the fight on the outside, he should be able to damage Okami on the feet.

If Okami can close the distance and get to the clinch, he can be effective and put Marquardt on his back from there. Only issue is he has to get through Marquardt’s punches to get to the clinch.

Marquardt is typically a fast starter while it takes Okami a few minutes to find his range and get comfortable. In a three round fight, Okami can’t afford to drop a round.

Okami’s style neutralizes opponents and he’s difficult to damage, but Marquardt should do enough to take a decision win and get another shot at the UFC 185-pound title and the winner of Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort at UFC 126.

The odds have Marquardt as a -220 favorite.