Middleweights Nate Marquardt and Dan Miller will kick things off on the televised portion of the upcoming UFC 128: "Shogun vs. Jones" pay-per-view event scheduled for March 19 from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
Marquardt was originally slated to face Yoshihiro Akiyama, but the sexy one was forced to withdraw from the contest after the recent earthquake/tsunami/nuclear catastrophe combination ravaged his adopted homeland of Japan.
Proving (again) that the Miller brothers will fight anyone, anytime, any place, Dan Miller quickly stepped up when UFC matchmaker Joe Silva made the call looking for a last-minute replacement.
Can he score a huge upset on such short notice? Or will Marquardt be unfazed by his change in opponent and get the job done in "Brick City?"
We break it all down after the jump:
Record: 14-4 overall, 5-3 in the UFC
How he got here: AMA Fight Club pupil Dan Miller is currently riding a two-fight win streak, with wins over the likes of Joe Doerksen and John Salter. Dan, along with his brother Jim, are both known to take fights on short notice because they're both constantly in shape and ready to fight. Originally, the New Jersey native was scheduled to meet fellow Jersey boy Nick Catone, but since Yoshihiro Akiyama had to withdraw, Miller jumped at the chance to step up in competition and face Marquardt.
How he gets it done: Miller needs to land effective striking so he can drag this fight to the mat. Once Miller can get it there, he needs to make sure and tie-up Marquardt's left wrist, as Marquardt scrambles very well once he's put on his back. From there, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt needs to land some punches to set up his guard pass and work his submissions.
Record: 30-10-2 overall, 9-4 in the UFC
How he got here: Last we saw Nate Marquardt; he dropped a unanimous decision to Yushin Okami in a number one contender's match for Anderson Silva's middleweight title. Prior to the loss to Okami, the Greg Jackson student had defeated Brazilian Top Team's own Rousimar Palhares via TKO at UFC Fight Night 22. Marquardt over the last few years has shown that while he may not be the best fighter at middleweight, he's still among the elite and is skilled in all areas of the fight game.
How he gets it done: The Denver, Colorado native needs to make sure to keep the fight standing and stay off his back with Miller. If Marquardt ends up on top though, it will be a bad night for the New Jersey native, as Marquardt can land devastating ground and pound. However, the more Marquardt keeps the fight standing, he will dominate Miller with his powerful striking and crisp combinations.
Fight "X Factor:" I believe the last minute change in opponent for Miller will play a factor. Both had to prepare for UFC 128, but Miller was training for an opponent who is nowhere near the level of "The Great," while Marquardt was expecting Yoshihiro Akiyama who, even despite a two-fight losing streak, is still a more dangerous middleweight with heavy hands and strong Judo. Miller does have a different style than Akiyama, but with Marquardt having over 40 fights, it's unlikely that Miller has a style that Marquardt hasn't prepared for.
Bottom Line: Marquardt will probably dominate Miller if he fights aggressively. With how tough Miller is, I don't believe that Miller will be finished in this fight, but it's hard to imagine him getting the victory. The problem with Miller's game is that his striking isn't too technical and he's not an explosive enough a wrestler to put Marquardt on his back and keep him there. I envision Marquardt bloodying Miller and being awarded a very convincing unanimous decision victory.
Which middleweight will emerge victorious at UFC 128? Tell us what you think here!