UFC 74 Recap: Please forgive me, Randy
Going into UFC 74, I eagerly anticipated what I believed to be a very good card with great main event fights, as well as depth top to bottom. And, I am happy to say, the night of fights did not disappoint. Yet, despite the fantastic action, the evening was a bittersweet one for me.
Because for the second time this year, I doubted Randy Couture and with no animosity but only consummate professionalism he proved me and all the other doubters wrong yet again. For the second time this year, I predicted Couture would succumb to a younger opponent, who on paper appeared to have all the physical tools to defeat him. His opponent last night, Gabriel Gonzaga, came in fresh off a devastating victory over Mirko Cro Cop in which Gonzaga showed all-around skills on the ground and standing up.
But, Couture has been in the game a long time and he showed again last night at age 44 why he is a UFC Hall-of-Famer. Couture showed that there is no measure for heart, for intelligence, and for proper gameplanning. He showed that age does not have to be a defining number.
In fact, Couture looked like the quicker man last night with his punches. And, despite being almost 25 pounds lighter than his opponent, Couture showed amazing strength with his slam that apparently inflicted the deep gash on Gonzaga's nose. And, Couture rarely allowed Gonzaga the range he needed to unleash his arsenal of punches and kicks -- instead Couture kept the fight in close with his dirty boxing tactics.
So with this performance, how can anyone ever doubt Couture again? I, for one, have seen enough of Couture this year in the heavyweight division to say that I won't be picking against him ever again. From now on, let his opponents prove me wrong. Last night is the last time Couture will do that to me.
With that, I say bring on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, bring on Andrei Arlovski, bring on Brandon Vera, bring on Mirko Cro Cop. And yes, bring on Fedor Emelianenko.
I've got Couture in every one of those matches...
What else I learned last night:
- Georges St. Pierre looked very good against Josh Koscheck and he looked like he had a gameplan that he followed to a T. From beginning to end, St. Pierre made it clear that his goal was to take Koscheck to the ground and work him from the top position. St. Pierre used what many thought was his strength coming in -- his striking -- to set up his takedowns. St. Pierre almost pulled off a kimura to submit Koscheck as well. Despite his wrestling background, Koscheck had no answers for GSP. I would say one more fight and GSP is ready for another title shot...
- Patrick Cote started off the pay-per-view portion of the card with a stunning victory over Kendall Grove. Cote landed a solid punch to the side of Grove's head and that pretty much ended the fight as the Canadian finished the Hawaiian on the ground. This victory was huge for Cote who came into the fight 1-4 in UFC. For Grove, this result is a step back for him, but in MMA losses are part of the game. How Grove comes back from this loss will do much to define him as a fighter.
- Roger Huerta also looked good in yet another exciting lightweight fight against Alberto Crane. Huerta wore down Crane over the course of the fight before finally stopping him in the third round. Still, give Crane credit for seemingly being one mistake away the entire night from a submission victory. I believe Crane showed a lot in his UFC debut and could make some waves in a deep division. While Joe Stevenson looked good against Kurt Pellegrino, I think Huerta moved ahead in the quest for a shot at a potentially vacated lightweight title.
- Thales Leites' armbar submission of a game Ryan Jensen was a thing of beauty. With the victory, Leites has now run off three straight UFC wins. Couple that with Grove's loss and Leites could be moving himself into position to challenge the top of a fairly thin middleweight division.