|Randy Couture vs. Antonio Nogueira: Better late than Never
By Brian O. Blake, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 27, 2009)
Once upon a time, the UFC and Pride FC were two separate entities that boasted their respective heavyweight champions in Randy "The Natural" Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. MMA fans around the world coveted the thought of the two stepping into the same arena to do battle.
After eight years of waiting, the dream-match becomes a reality as the two will headline UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira on Aug. 29 from the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, OR.
Both men are coming off of 2nd round TKO (punches) losses taking place in late 2008.
Couture (16-9) lost his heavyweight championship to Brock Lesnar back in November, while Nogueira (35-1-1, 1 NC), a month later, watched Frank Mir walk away with his UFC interim heavyweight belt.
Couture believes his plan of attack should have been different and recently spoke of what it would take to beat Lesnar.
"I think it's going to boil down to out-wrestling him. He's a big, strong, athletic guy and standing in front of him and trying to punch it, is probably a bad idea. I think using the cage and finding ways to make him fight off of his back is probably the way to potentially beat him. Still, there's no easy way around a guy that size."
Nogueira feels that his most recent loss was a combination of Frank's skill and an injured knee.
"Bad fights happen, you know. You won't be 100% for every fight. In my last fight, I had a knee injury 15 days before. It's no excuse, but I couldn't be in shape when my knee was out. It was very bad for me to fight. I couldn't move at all, and that day Frank caught me with a good left hand three times. He made the fight, he [did] very good that night."
Now they look to pick up the pieces and get back in to the win column to avoid back to back losses.
At the age of 46, Couture doesn't have many years left in this sport, but has proven over and over again that his heart, talent and rigorous work ethic all transcend time.
Meanwhile, Nogueira, who is no spring chicken himself, believes that at 33, the best is yet to come.
Couture, a decorated wrestler, has always impressed the MMA world with his takedowns and ground-and-pound offense.
Nogueira, on the other hand, is just as lethal on the ground and has some of the sports most impressive submission wins to prove it.
When these two meet in "The Octagon" you can expect fireworks while the both of them are on their feet, and just as much excitement when the two display their technical abilities on the ground.
Both fighters are literally fighting for their MMA lives, and their intensity on August 29 will reflect that sentiment.
Couture and Nogueira have both risen to the top of the sport and have already cemented their legacies as two of the greatest ever.
A loss in no way diminishes their past accomplishments as both have stood the test of time and proven to be more than just one-hit wonders.
It will, however, serve as a reminder that those days of glory and domination are no longer going to come as easy. Most outsiders will conjure up talks of retirement, especially if the end comes in devastating fashion.
Thus far, Couture and Nogueira have waved off any talk of retirement, with both of them not only focusing on their fight with each other, but their MMA future following a win.
A win for either Couture or Nogueira not only spares them from talks of retirement, but puts them one step closer to being able to challenge Brock Lesnar for his UFC Heavyweight Title.
Although, when that would happen isn't so clear, as it has been recently reported that Brock Lesnar will put his title on the line against Shane Carwin in November as the main event for UFC 106.
For now, Couture and Nogueira can only focus on their upcoming fight with each other.
A fight that eight years ago, when both men ruled the heavyweight division in their respective organizations, would have been an epic showdown.
If you go back as little as last year, when Randy was the UFC heavyweight champ and Antonio held the interim strap, it would have been a bout of more significance.
Even with most of the glitz and glamour that once surrounded this fight now gone, we still get the opportunity to watch two of the sports all-time greatest heavyweight practitioners go at it; in what could turn out to be one for the ages.
And I, for one, am looking forward to it.
Questions and comments can be sent to: BrianOBlake@yahoo.com
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