The World Heavyweight Championship/Gears of War 2 presents UFC:Couture vs. Lesnar-Saturday November 15 10pm LIVE on Pay-per-View…..Randy Couture is the underdog and Brock Lesnar is the favorite…..Couture is the CHAMPION and Lesnar is the challenger….Here’s how it all shapes up as we move toward the Epic Collision:
When the UFC resolved its contract dispute with heavyweight champion Randy Couture, the choice for his first opponent was, well, a natural. The fight business is about making matches people want to see, and Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar is a compelling contrast of style and personality. Wrestler vs. wrestler. Youth vs. experience. Size vs. technique. WWE champion vs. UFC champion.
Lesnar could be the future of the UFC’s heavyweight division.
The stakes are high for both Couture and Lesnar. The 45-year-old Couture can’t hold off Father Time forever. A loss to Lesnar and Couture might never again fight for a championship. Lesnar, for all his potential, only has a 1-1 UFC record. Another defeat and the bloom might be off of Lesnar’s rose.
Each man faces unique challenges. Couture will be returning to action after over a year layoff. Couture and the UFC had a contentious contract dispute, and Couture attempted to leave the fighting organization. Eventually too much time and money had been spent and Couture returned to the UFC.
While questions remain about that layoff as well as his age, Couture insists that he will be ready for Lesnar at UFC 91. He trains year-round in fighting with a host of world class competitors at his Xtreme Couture gym, and says that training is as valuable as actual fights.
“I don’t think it’s the same as in boxing,” Couture said of layoffs from fighting. “I think the training is as real as the fights. What’s important is getting in the gym, training, refining my skills and techniques, and going in Saturday and showcasing them.”
Couture will also have to worry about Lesnar’s overwhelming advantages in size and strength. Couture is a small heavyweight, light enough to have competed at 205 pounds. Lesnar, on the other hand, cuts to get to the 265-pound heavyweight limit. Lesnar is well aware of this advantage, and will seek to exploit it on Nov. 15.
“I’ve got to push around 230 pounds and Randy’s got to push around 275 pounds,” Lesnar pointed out. He adds, “Randy’s fought big guys but they don’t know how to wrestle and Randy knows that too. The bigger guys that Randy fought aren’t half the athlete I am as a wrestler or as a fighter.”
Couture knows he can’t match Lesnar in raw size and strength, but doesn’t view that as an insurmountable hurdle.
“I have to find a way to make that an advantage,” Couture said. “I’m a pretty fair athlete myself and move fairly well. Brock’s a big and explosive guy. I certainly don’t want to stand around in front of him.”
Couture has dealt with bigger opponents before. After his last layoff from fighting, Couture returned to face then-heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, another 265-pound giant. Couture cracked Sylvia with an overhand right at the beginning of their bout and coasted to a 25-minute decision victory. To prepare for the Lesnar fight, Couture has brought in many of the same larger training partners that assisted him in advance of the Sylvia fight.
Lesnar faces a different set of problems in dealing with Couture. But there is one potential problem he isn’t worried about. Lesnar couldn’t care less about the criticism in some circles that he doesn’t deserve a title shot at this stage of his career.
“This is a once-in-a-life opportunity, and no one in my position would have turned this fight down,” Lesnar noted. “Dana (White) and Zuffa and the UFC put on fights that people want to see. Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture is a fight people are going to want to tune in and see.”
While Lesnar has great potential in MMA, he is still learning his way, and few fighters are better at targeting and exploiting an opponent’s weaknesses than Couture. Lesnar is aware of this, and will seek to take the fight to Couture and impose his game.
*****from Todd Martin, special to CBSSports.com*****