Long Overdue, Legacies on the Line at UFC 102
Preview by Brady Crytzer
On Saturday, August 29th the Ultimate Fighting Championship presents a meeting between two of the most prolific heavyweights in MMA history as former UFC heavyweight champion Randy “The Natural” Couture meets former PrideFC champion Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. Although both men are in the twilight of their careers, world title aspirations still exist and UFC 102 should prove to be one of the most entertaining (and long overdue) bouts of the year. After years of talk, let’s break down this fight and pay homage to the most influential pair of heavyweights in the history of mixed martial arts.
Not to say that this fight is late, but, six years ago “Minotauro” Nogueria was revolutionizing the traditional maxims of striking in MMA. While he didn’t change things for long, Nogueira challenged the sport’s dependence on muay thai in Brazil and began training with the vaunted Cuban National Boxing Team. He was sharper, but his power simply did not translate. Nogueira has a strong jab, but age has taken its toll on the 37 fight veteran’s reflexes. In this sport, striking is based solely on effectiveness. In 2009, Randy Couture has proven in brawls with Tim Sylvia, Gabriel Gonzaga, and even Brock Lesnar that he can still bang. It isn’t always pretty, but it gets the job done.
Nogueira isn’t as sharp as he used to be and his jab won’t be enough. Couture uses timing and discipline to hurt his opponents and this three rounder with “Minotauro” will be no different.
Say what you will about age and recent fights, but there is no doubt that this is still a great grappling superfight. Jiu Jitsu versus wrestling on this level is truly a thing of beauty. “Minotauro” has defined the meaning of warrior over the last decade due to his ability to take a licking and keep on ticking. After being pounded and smashed, Nogueira has rarely failed to pull out a homerun submission. On the flip side, Couture has been the poster boy for taking collegiate wrestlers and molding them into dangerous mixed martial artist. To make matters worse he leads by example. “The Natural” has used his skills to dump great fighters like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga with the greatest of ease.
Once this fight hits the floor its anything goes. While Nogueira enjoys and serious pure jiu jitsu advantage, Couture’s ground n’ pound and cage tactics should neutralize MMA’s most legendary guard.
How They Match Up
There are people who are hailing this as the grappling match up of the year. They may be right, but don’t expect to see this fight anywhere near the mat.
In December we witnessed generally sloppy and ineffective striker in Frank Mir dismantle Nogueira as though he was channeling Roy Jones, Jr. in 1999.
Among those at ringside was Randy Couture. Known as the best game planner in the sport, Couture will surely exploit Nogueira badly declining chin and finish this fight on the feet in the first round.
Couture will use strong combinations and crafty footwork to spin “Minotauro” in circles and send him crashing to the mat for one final time.