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Nogueira defeats Couture in legendary fight

Octagonside by Andreas Hale
Photo by Joe Cordova

Randy “The Natural” Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was a legendary fight that fans of mixed martial arts have been begging for. The clash that has been talked about since Nogueira and Courture held the PRIDE and UFC heavyweight titles (respectively), took several years to come to fruition, but did not disappoint.

Both fighters were coming off of losses - Couture’s TKO loss to heavyweight stud Brock Lesnar and Nogueira’s drubbing at the hands of Frank Mir - and skeptics questioned if their best years were behind them.

In front of 16,088 rabid fans at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR, UFC 102 set the stage for a legendary clash that went above and beyond all expectations and will be logged in the annexes of UFC history forever. In the end, “Minotauro” Nogueira was a step ahead of the fighter they call “Captain America” and took home a unanimous decision victory to prove that his loss to Mir several months earlier was merely an aberration.

The 46-year-old Couture also proved that he still has gas in his tank - he revealed that he signed a new 28 month, six fight deal with the UFC afterwards - and put on a show for his hometown fans who went absolutely berserk from the moment he emerged from the locker room to the final bell.

The clash was one for the ages. From the opening bell, Nogueira and Couture traded emphatic punches with ill intent. Giving and receiving each other’s best, fans knew immediately they were in for something legendary. When the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist was shrugged off trying to pull guard early in the fight by Couture, the 16k erupted to decibels that would leave Dana White’s head ringing long after the fight.

The first round featured it all - heated exchanges, a powerful knockdown by Nog and a near submission via D’Arce choke that Couture masterfully escaped from and came roaring back to land a beautiful left right combination to close the round. If the first round set the pace, the second saw the future Hall Of Famers go right back to work. Couture would takedown Nogueira and land some solid blows from the former PRIDE and UFC champion’s guard. But just as quickly as he went to work, Nog surprised Randy with a brilliant sweep and ended up in full mount. A collective gasp took over the crowd as “Minotauro” nearly sunk in an arm triangle and yet again finished off Couture. Captain America was resilient and somehow managed to escape the choke and scramble to his feet. At this point, the Rose Garden roof was nearly blown off by the “Randy” chants.

Although Nogueira was ahead after two rounds, he would not rest on his laurels and looked for a finish in the third. Couture frantically attacked with a rousing three punch combination at the beginning of the final frame but ate a massive right hand that sent him crumbling to the canvas as it appeared that it was over yet again. Somehow, someway Couture weathered the storm and made it to his knees as the crowd erupted yet again. Nogueira was not finished as he worked his Jiu-Jitsu and managed to take Couture’s back and got one hook in and looked like he’d secure a read naked choke. Couture called upon his championship heart once again and managed to sweep Nog and land in the top position before landed a few elbow strikes as the time expired.

It wouldn’t be enough to sway the judges, who all scored the fight in favor of Nogueira: 30-27 twice and 29-28.

The victory puts Nogueira’s MMA record at an impressive 32-5-1 and possibly in line for a future fight with the winner of Brock Lesnar’s heavyweight championship showdown with Shane Carwin.

During a post fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Nog revealed that injuries - specifically a staph infection - set him up as damaged goods before entering the Octagon with Frank Mir in December. His victory on Saturday night proved that “Minotauro” is ready and willing to trade with the best of them.

"I was in the hospital for one week before the fight against Frank Mir, then I had my … meniscus torn out. So I had a lot of injuries -- my neck, my knee, everything -- but now I am here. I want to be at the top of the UFC. I want a title belt. If you guys give me a chance to fight against Lesnar, it would be my pleasure."

Couture looked as incredible as one can look on the wrong side of the scorecards. He fell to 16-10 in defeat but proved that he still can go with the best of them and we’re sure we will see the UFC legend back in the Octagon sooner than later.

"I'm obviously disappointed to lose, but you've got to love this sport," Couture said afterwards. "I tell you what, these guys come out here, and every single fight tonight, they put it on the line. That's what I love about it. You never know what's going to happen."

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Silva Redeems Himself; Flattens Jardine In 95 Seconds

After a devastating knockout loss to Lyoto Machida back in January, Thiago Silva knew he needed something spectacular to place his name back into light heavyweight contention. Keith Jardine was also coming off of a loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and was looking for a little payback himself. Silva wasn’t expected to be as easy as Silva made him appear to be.

In a mere 95 seconds, Thiago Silva knocked out Keith Jardine in extremely devastating fashion to stamp himself as again one of the premier fighters at 205lbs.

“The Dean Of Mean” came out aggressive and landed rattling leg kicks early. Silva would catch one of Jardine’s leg kicks and shove him to the mat. Silva couldn’t keep Jardine down and the two went back to stand-up - which is probably the worst thing Jardine could have had happen.

Jardine would shoot an uppercut towards Silva that the Brazilian would slip past and launch a menacing counter left hook that rocked Jardine and sent him to the canvas. Seconds later, Silva sent several ill intentioned punches that finished off the fight as referee Herb Dean called the fight off and the Rose Garden watched in awe.

And just like that, Thiago Silva went from possibly over hyped to definite contender.

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Rosholt Puts Leben To Sleep

Chris Leben was the hometown boy. Jake Rosholt was the relative unknown who could care less where his opponent was from. In the end, Rosholt would choke the fan favorite with a brilliant arm triangle at one minute and thirty seconds in the third round.

Rosholt was looking to avenge his UFC debut loss to Dan Miller back in February and did so in rousing fashion. The usually durable Leben was pressured by the four time All American wrestler from the outset. The Oklahoma State alumni landed a jumping knee that bloodied up Leben early and set the tone for the rest of the fight.

Leben looke sluggish throughout but managed to muster up some offense to keep things competitive. In the second round Leben would knock Rosholt down but couldn’t put enough together to put his opponent in any serious danger.

Leben entered the final frame looking gassed but swung wildly for the fences. Rosholt kept his composure and easily took down Leben and settled into side control. Rosholt appeared to go for Leben’s back but masterfully locked his hands in for an arm triangle and switched over to the other side to lock the hold in and put “The Crippler” to sleep as the fight was called to a halt.

“It was a great fight,” Rosholt said as his MMA record improves to 6-1. “I knew Leben was coming after me. I wanted to TKO him or submit him.”

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Nate “The Great” Pulverizes Maia

One of the evening’s most intriguing match-ups turned out to be completely one-sided as middleweight contender Nate “The Great” Marquardt made extremely short work of Demian Main in a fight with future championship implications.

The chatter before the fight surrounded whether or not Marquardt could deal with Maia’s remarkable Jiu-Jitsu skills on the mat or if Maia could find his way through Marquardt’s remarkable offense and take matters to the canvas.

Marquardt didn’t give anyone a chance to see if he could deal with Maia’s ground game as all he needed was one punch and 21 seconds to put the Brazilian away in devastating fashion.

Maia oddly tried an ill fated high kick early on that Marquardt stepped inside of and lowered the boom with a vicious right hand that put Maia’s lights out before he hit the floor.

It was a statement fight for “The Great” who has been pining for a rematch with pound for pound king Anderson Silva. This fight could very well have locked him in for a middleweight title fight as long as Silva remains at 185lbs and is willing to defend his title.

“I want that belt and I don’t know who’s going to get the next shot, but if you want someone who’s going to kick Anderson Silva’s butt, you’re going to give that shot to me,” Marquardt said afterwards.

With that one punch statement, truer words may never had been spoken.

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Vera Slips By Soszynski

In a match-up of 205 pounders, Brandon Vera kept Krzysztof Soszynkski off balance and managed to pull out a unanimous decision victory. Vera - who has yet to look terribly impressive at light heavyweight since coming down several fights back - was much more fluid in his striking and never provided an opening for “The Polish Experiment” to take advantage of with his own standup. Soszynski would never get the opportunity to lock in his trademark kimura or even manage to take down “The Truth” as he looked baffled and lost for most of the fight.

Vera never found himself in much danger and utilized enough leg kicks and left hands to score the 30-27 victory on all three judges scorecards. Unfortunately, the slow paced fight didn’t manage to help bolster Vera’s resume and proved that once again he has yet to reach his full potential.

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Injury Gives A-Train TKO Victory

Undefeated Aaron Simpson kept his streak going as he defeated TUF Season 3 alumni Ed Herman via TKO at 17 seconds in the second round. A-Train came out with his guns blazing as he landed several strikes and a huge slam early in the first round. Herman couldn’t get anything going as he was dropped by a overhand right and was dominated throughout the first stanza. Herman would hobble back to his corner at the end of the first as his knee looked to be injured. As the second frame opened, Herman attempted a kick that was caught by Simpson and shoved him aside but Herman hit the mat writhing in pain. Yves Lavigne was forced to wave off the fight as Herman could no longer continue. Replays showed Herman’s knee completely give out on him.

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Gonzaga bounces back from loss

Gabriel Gonzaga bounced back from his knockout loss to Shane Carwin with a very impressive TKO victory over Brock Lesnar training partner Chris Tuchscherer at 2:20 in the first round. The fight was in danger of ending prematurely as Gonzagaused one of his trademark kicks and landed a low blow to nearly put Tuchscherer out of business in the opening seconds. Tuchscherer would writhe in pain for several minutes before finally opting to continue the fight. He may have been better off letting this one go as Gonzaga would blitz him and land a monster head kick that dropped Tuchscherer to the canvas and allow Gonzaga to smash his way to the TKO victory.

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Russow manhandles McCully

Ex-Cop Mike Russow manhandled Justin McCully throughout most of their heavyweight bout to earn an easy unanimous decision victory. Russow would take down McCully at will and pound away at his seemingly listless opponent. A vicious left hand while on the ground caused some nasty swelling under McCully’s eye as Russow would continue to pound and control his opponent en route to the easy victory. Officials scored the fight 30-26, 30-27 and 29-28 all in favor of Russow.

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Duffee wins in UFC debut

Making his UFC debut, Todd Duffee knocked out Tim Hague in a UFC record seven seconds in their heavyweight match-up. It wouldn’t take long as the massive Duffee shot a stiff jab that floored Hague immediately after the bell sounded and then pummeled him with hammer fists as Mario Yamasaki called a halt to the fight.

“I came out aggressive and he came out aggressive,” Duffee said about his remarkable record setting victory. “He made the first move, I countered with a jab and he went down.

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Munoz wins split verdict over Catone

In middleweight action, “The Filipino Smashing Machine” Mark Munoz took home a debatable split decision victory over Nick Catone.

Munoz was in need of a victory after the brutal knockout loss at the hands of Matt Hamill back at UFC 96 and may have received a gift from the judges in this one. Catone started the bout firing on all cylinders as he looked faster and sharper in his standup. But Munoz would put his excellent wrestling skills on display and get a couple of big slams and takedowns late in each round which apparently swayed the judges in his favor. Judges scored the fight 29-28 for Catone, 30-27 and 29-28 in favor of Mark Munoz.

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Dunhum wins opener

In the evening’s first bout, Evan Dunham used a sharp standup game to upend Marcus Aureilo via split decision. Dunham - who hails from nearby Eugene - looked sharp on his feet and used his superieor striking to score the victory. Judges saw the bout 29-28 for Aurelio while the other two judges had it 30-27 and 29-28 for Dunham.

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