August 30, 2009
A 46-year old shouldn't be able to go toe-to-toe with a 33-year old in mixed martial arts, but that's exactly what Randy Couture did against Brazilian legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He simply wasn't big enough to hurt Nogueira on the feet. When the fight went to the ground Nogueira was better technical fighter. He threatened with the most dangerous moment of the fight in the middle of the second round with an arm-triangle choke for 42 seconds. Nogueira rolled to a unanimous decision (29-28 and 30-27 on two cards) over the former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion at UFC 102 in Portland.
Nogueira (32-5-1, 3-1 UFC), a former Pride and UFC heavyweight champ, put himself in line for a shot at Brock Lesnar's title down the road. It was an excellent comeback performance after he looked so sluggish in a loss to Frank Mir at UFC 92. He was also dealing with a staph infection at the time and said he was in the hospital a week before the fight. He looked much more crisp tonight and took repeated heavyweight punches walking through Couture bombs on several occasions.
Couture was gracious in defeat:
"I'm disappointed to lose [but] you gotta love this sport. The guys come out and every single fight they put it on the line. What keeps me going are guys like Nogueira and interesting fights. He was very tough tonight."
Couture didn't sound like he's ready to retire:
"We’ll let the dust settle see what the UFC wants to do. I feel the best I’ve ever felt."
Nogueira set the tone in the opening round as he stood right in front of Couture trading leather. Nog landed a right of his own that floored Couture with three minutes left in the first. He turned that into a choke attempt (pictured at the top of the story) that Couture eventually freed himself from.
Couture, master of ground and pound, had top control on several occasions but couldn't never unload big shots. Nogueira held Couture close to his body and was able to reverse the position on each occasion.
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