UFC 102: Couture, Nogueira finally meet

With both coming off knockout losses and facing questions about whether their time as top competitive fighters were over, the first meeting of iconic figures Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira ended up to be one of the better heavyweight matches in company history.

UFC 102 on Aug. 29, 2009, the company’s first-ever show in the Pacific Northwest, was held at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore., not far from where Couture lived and trained for 13 years, including a stint as an Oregon State wrestling coach.

Couture came into the fight as a five-time UFC champion, including three of those title wins as a heavyweight. Nogueira was the first PRIDE heavyweight champion, and the two, along with Fedor Emelianenko, would likely hold the historical top rungs on the heavyweight rankings.

But it was Nogueira who won a unanimous three-round decision. Couture survived two knockdowns and escaped from a tight D’Arce choke. He came back and was on top of Nogueira, pounding on him as the match ended. The loss caused Couture, who weighed 220 pounds for the fight, to make the decision to move to the light heavyweight division.

NOTEWORTHY

For the company’s first trip to Oregon, UFC loaded up on fighters with local ties, but the area fighters by and large came up short. Couture lost in the main event. Chris Leben, who grew up in the area, lost via submission to Jake Rosholt. Ed Herman blew out his knee and couldn’t continue against Aaron Simpson. The only local product to win was then-unknown Evan Dunham, who took a split decision over the far better known Marcus Aurelio in the show’s opener.

The undercard contained two noteworthy knockouts. In a middleweight battle of top ranking contenders, Nate Marquardt stopped the previously unbeaten Demian Maia with an overhand right to the jaw in just 21 seconds.

The other saw debuting heavyweight, Todd Duffee, set a UFC record with a seven-second knockout over Tim Hague. This broke the previous records of eight seconds for the fastest UFC finish in history, set on February 16, 1996 by Don Frye over Thomas Ramirez, and April 2, 2008, by James Irvin over Houston Alexander.

Quoteworthy: “I don’t have any illusions I won the fight, but I knew it was a damn good fight. Going out and doing what you trained to do is what it’s all about. Of course you’d like to win, but if you do what you trained to do, you can’t ask for more than that.” – Randy Couture, assessing his performance

RESULTS

Evan Dunham def. Marcus Aurelio, split decision
Mark Munoz def. Nick Catone, split decision
Todd Duffee def. Tim Hague, KO, 0:07 R1
Mike Russow def. Justin McCully, unanimous decision
Gabriel Gonzaga def. Chris Tuscherer, TKO, 2:57 R1
Aaron Simpson def. Ed Herman, TKO, 0:17 R2
Brandon Vera def. Krzyzstof Soszynski, unanimous decision
Nate Marquardt def. Demian Maia, KO, 0:21 R1
Jake Rosholt def. Chris Leben, submission (arm triangle) 1:30 R3
Thiago Silva def. Keith Jardine, KO, 1:35 R1
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira def. Randy Couture, unanimous decision.