UFC 109: Randy Couture Vs Mark Coleman - light-heavyweight bout
Randy Couture 1/5, Mark Coleman 10/3.
Randy "The Natural" Couture first became a UFC champion in December 1997; he last fought for a belt in November 2008 when losing the Heavyweight Championship to Brock Lesnar. Ten years at the top have seen Couture contest 15 title fights, become the first and one of only two men to hold titles in two weight classes, and win championship belts on 6 separate occasions. He holds wins over Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Vitor Belfort... A who's who of UFC competitors. And, also, losses to some of the most fabled contenders in the UFC. Randy's competitive nature has seen him take on bigger men than he when fighting in the heavyweight division and recent defeats at the hands of Lesnar and "Minotauro" Nogueira have helped him decide to return to the 205lbs class.
Couture's recent win over Brandon Vera at 205lbs was a close run thing; employing his usual game plan of smothering his opponent, and using punches inside the clinch and his Olympic-level Greco-Roman wrestling to tire and subdue his adversary, 46 year old Couture was given a unanimous decision by the judges. However, Vera landed some damaging blows and his reluctance to engage and look for the KO finish may have cost him the bout. Mark Coleman may have in mind the knockout victory as his greatest chance of winning this fight, and further damaging "The Natural's" MMA record of 17 and 10.
Coleman is another man who has fought the best in the business, with a similar record of 16 and 9, and now gets to tick Couture off his list. Coleman was the UFC's first ever heavyweight champion, at UFC 12 but left to compete in Pride before the postponed match with Couture, due to Couture sustaining an injury, could be re-arranged.
There, "The Hammer" won the 2000 Open Weight Grand Prix, defeating Igor Vovchanchyn, and thus avenging close friend Mark Kerr's loss - eventually ruled a no contest due to illegal knees - to the Ukrainian. In his final fight in Pride he was submitted by Fedor Emilianenko, and so re-joined the UFC looking to make a run at the light heavyweight belt. Coleman is a similar fighter to Couture, with a strong wrestling background - indeed, the two men have met before, wrestling in a freestyle match back in 1989 - Coleman won by a single point.
Couture's strong favouritism here at 1/5 takes into account his recent level of top quality opposition, his wins over Gonzaga and Sylvia, and his preternatural conditioning and stamina. There are unlikely to be any surprises in his approach to the fight; he will look to impose his wrestling and dirty boxing on Coleman, asking questions a young Coleman may have been able to answer, but that the 45 year old version may not. Of course, "The Hammer" is credited as being the "Godfather of Ground and Pound" and may have Couture questioning his tried-and-tested strategy.
I see this going to the judges, with neither man able to overcome the other's will to survive, and in all likelihood being a unanimous decision to Couture. The man has made getting the judges onside into an art form and is probably one of the smartest fighters of all time in fighting to the rules and winning the bout. Coleman may come to see this as one last hurrah, his final shot at a name fighter, and his odds of 10/3 should make good reading for anyone who fancies an early finish to the fight and gives him the obligatory punchers chance.