One thing we should be thankful for this holiday season is that the UFC is being very generous to its fans. From the previous month and into January we are getting two events per month, one of which we can view for free on Spike TV. The events on cable TV surely aren’t the quality of the pay-per-view events. We can count on some stepping stone fights on the undercard, which may lead to relevant fights in the future, with the main event being a fight with more immediate significance.
This month’s free-viewing event pits two top contenders in the middleweight division against each other with a guaranteed title shot going to the victor. So, let’s take a closer look and see if there’s any information we can glean from Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami to try to determine who will squared off against the winner of the February 5th title fight between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.
Age 31 29
Record 33-9-2 26-5
Striking Offense 53% 39%
Striking Defense 49% 68%
Takedowns 70% 80%
Takedown Def. 71% 88%
*Items in bold signify an advantage.
The advantage in the stand-up game heavily favors Marquardt. The statistics above back that statement up, but on top of that there are some intangibles that cannot be measured in statistics. Marquardt is a very creative striker who is not afraid to string together a head kick/spinning backfist/ right hook combination. The one positive for Okami here is he plays very good defense in the stand-up game. This won’t be enough to compensate for Marquardt’s ability to keep opponents guessing where he’s coming from and where he’s going to land on them though.
Here it’sadvantage Marquardt when it comes to striking in the clinch, but advantage Okami when it comes to positioning and takedowns. If Marquardt plans to use the clinch he needs to get in it, and then out of it. He doesn’t want to hang out there too long. Okami, on the other hand, wants to get into the clinch and either secure an over/under or double underhook position and get the fight on the ground in a hurry! The clinch is even up, but whoever asserts their dominant clinch style gets the advantage.
The advantage here is all Okami. He wins the takedown and takedown defense skill. Yushin is at his best when he is in top position and working his ground and pound. Marquardt has decent takedown defense, and it’s probably a safe bet that he’s been drilling his sprawls in camp. Also, you can count on him using the same technique he used in his last fight against Pulhares: getting a sweat going so he is hard to get a grip on from the first round bell. It should be noted that Marquardt also has decent sweeps from bottom position.
This is a classic and common case of “if this then that, but if this then that”. Both fighters are worthy of each other’s attention. However, it’s in our nature as fans to take a side.
In this fight I like Marquardt for his ability to create unique angles and spaces to dominate in the stand-up. There is the chance he will end up on his back, and the fight could go the other way, but he has acceptable takedown defense, and if he is taken down he has sweeps at his disposal to help him get back to his feet. He has the ability to finish the fight with strikes, and is not too shy about submission attempts.
Winner: Nate Marquardt; 3rd round unanimous decision.
Chad Barrows, MMA News 247.