Too many times in the past few weeks, I've heard that the loser of Saturday's UFC 102 main event between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Randy Couture should retire.
Randy Couture is 46, and looked a step slower in his last fight, a loss to Brock Lesnar. Of his nine losses, five were knockouts or TKO. He also has a film career and is a businessman, so it's not a crazy thought to think that Couture may retire.
But Nog? He's 33. His only TKO loss was his most recent fight, the loss to Frank Mir. He is one fight removed from being a UFC champion, and before that, he was a PRIDE champion. Does that sound like the resume of someone headed to Shady Pines?
Nogueira's age is right around that of the champions of MMA. Brock Lesnar is 32. Lyoto Machida is 31. Anderson Silva is 34. Mike Brown is 33. Fedor Emelianenko will turn 32 at the end of September.
Perhaps Nogueira is perceived to be older because he has fought in so many bouts -- 37 in ten years to Couture's 25 in 12 years. Maybe it's because he likes to hang out with a geriatric boxing coach. But a 33-year-old fighter is not always one who should be walking out on the sport, when that's the point where many fighters are reaching their prime. Let's not buy him a condo in Del Boca Vista just yet.