Germany gets a second dose of UFC action tomorrow night as UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami comes to the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen. “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-9-2) and “Thunder” Yushin Okami (25-5) headline the event and TUF standouts “The Polish Experiment” Krzysztof Soszynski (20-10-1), Andre Winner (12-4-1), and Amir Sadollah (3-2), light heavyweight prospect Goran Reljic (8-2), and German stand-up fighters Peter Sobotta (6-2) and Denis Siver (16-7) round out a very solid card. A true fan pleaser that serves as the final main card bout before the main event fighters take the stage features the retooled UFC veteran Jorge Rivera (18-7) and the Italian gut buster “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7). With 25 UFC bouts between the two of them, Sakara and Rivera are the definition of The Old Guard and this bout will be one to show the young buck TUF alums on the card exactly what they have to look forward to in the future of their UFC careers. These two men are old school fighters; they see it as their job to win fights, not matches, and they will do whatever it takes to finish their opponent.
At First Glance: This bout is sure to be to the delight of both causal and hardcore fans, as these two warriors come from an era when it wasn’t enough to just win fights in the UFC – fighters had to finish convincingly and regularly in order to stay on the roster. The result is two men who for fifteen minutes will actively seek to terminate the other’s consciousness, dreading the judges almost as much as a loss. In fact, the pair have seen the judges only ten times in a combined 48 bouts, and that number drops significantly when you limit it to wins by decision. The solid favorite is “Legionarius” who has the more refined skill set and a more relaxed and methodical approach to dismantling his foes. Rivera, however, is not one to be written off. He is a solid fighter with a well-rounded kickboxing game that doesn’t understand the word “quit”.
In Depth: The story of this fight could accurately be called “The Tale of Two Strikers”. While both men have visited the ground several times throughout their careers, the number of submission victories between the two can be counted on one had. This bout will take place on the feet, of that there is no doubt. Sakara and Rivera have suffered first -round KO losses and both men have the brutal killer instinct that means even the slightest miscalculation from either man could be all that is needed to end this fight. The two warriors will battle to land the first clean shot then capitalize on rocking his opponent. Rivera recovers more quickly, Sakara lands harder and more often. The term most often used for this kind of pairing is “war of attrition”.
The Wild Card: The devil is in the details, and that devil’s name is Alessio Sakara’s uncanny ability to remain calm in the pocket. A relaxed fighter moves more fluidly and strikes more quickly and that makes all the difference in a fight between two guys with questionable chins and heavy hands. Rivera has an excellent ability to recover from a damaging blow, but if he can’t manage to land in return, “Legionarius” will out run him and finish him in the end. There is also the matter of Sakara’s devastating counter left hook. Rivera will have a tough road ahead of him if he eats a vicious left hand every time he throws a cross in the pocket.
The Verdict: In the end, “Legionarius” and Rivera are mirror images of one another. The difference is that Alessio is the cleaner, crisper fighter and also has the heavier hands of the two. Both men will sit in the pocket and do everything they can to finish their opponent, but in the end, Alessio Sakara will land flush one too many times and Rivera won’t be able to recover in time to stop the ensuing blitz. Sakara via TKO, Round 2.