The 411 MMA Top 10 09.03.12 Randy Couture's Top Ten Fights
Posted by Alex Rella on 09.03.2012
From his wars with Chuck Liddell and Gabriel Gonzaga to fights with Pedro Rizzo, Tito Ortiz and more, 411’s Alex Rella breaks down the top 10 Randy Couture fights of all-time!
Randy Couture's Top Ten Fights
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at Randy Couture's top ten fights. But first, Thoughts from last week and other random stuff:
• Last week's list was the top ten most disappointing title reigns and it caused some debate in the comment section. And that means most of the comments were ripping apart the list but I'll address some of them anyway.
• I didn't think Machida's reign was that disappointing. I don't see any shame in losing the title to Shogun Rua who is one of the best light heavyweights of all time. Same goes for Rashad Evans who lost his title to Machida, just because you don't have any title defenses doesn't necessarily mean you were disappointing.
• Bas Rutten voluntarily dropped the UFC heavyweight championship as he was hoping to drop down to 205 pounds and fight for the light heavyweight title. It was then after he dropped the title that he became injured and was forced to retire. So Rutten voluntarily giving up his title so he could fight for another one isn't really that disappointing.
• I admit GSP's first title reign should have made the list.
Back to this week's list
The Natural Randy Couture is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He began his career by winning UFC 13 in 1997 and it ended at UFC 129 in 2011 losing against Lyoto Machida. Couture is a UFC Hall of Fame member, three time UFC heavyweight champion, two time UFC light heavyweight champion, the first UFC interim champion (light heavyweight), UFC 13 tournament winner, most UFC championship fights (15), first UFC fighter to hold titles in two different weight classes, the oldest fighter to win a UFC title at 43, oldest to defend at 44, and oldest UFC fighter to win a fight at 47. Couture also headlined the most UFC events. This list was based on the fight quality, Couture's personal performance, the significance of the fight, and personal opinion Honorable Mentions:
• Belfort UFC 49- The rubber match in their trilogy was pretty good as Couture would win back the light heavyweight title after a doctor stoppage after the third round.
• Maurice Smith UFC Japan- Couture's first title win but it wasn't very exciting as he would by majority decision.
• Mike van Arnsdale UFC 54- A competitive fight between two top wrestlers as Couture would win via anaconda choke in the third round.
10: Mark Coleman UFC 109
The two hall of famers were originally supposed to fight at UFC 17 when Randy Couture was the heavyweight champion but the fight was cancelled due to Couture being injured. Pete Williams then stepped in and pulled off a huge upset at the time when Coleman got knocked out for the first time in his career. Though, Couture and Coleman did wrestle each other in 1989 in which Coleman won by one point. This was the first time two UFC hall of famers would fight each other and their combined age was 91 which is also a record. Couture easily out boxed Coleman and took him down to win by rear naked choke in the second round. This would be the last fight of Coleman's career as he was released by the UFC after the loss. This was just a fun fight between two former champions at the end of their careers.
9: Chuck Liddell UFC 57
This was the rubber match of their trilogy. Couture won the first meeting at UFC 43 and Liddell won the rematch at UFC 52. Couture defeated Mike van Arsdale at UFC 54 to earn the title shot against Liddell at UFC 57. The first round was mostly spent with both fighters standing up throwing huge shots at each other. Couture won the first round as he was able to take Liddell down twice towards the end of the round. After the first round, Liddell was cut up and Couture's nose was broken. The second round started in similar fashion with both fighters standing up when Couture went to throw a big right hand and missed. Liddell responded with a right hook knocking Couture to his knees and followed up with some strikes to end it. Couture then announced his retirement after the fight.
8: Kevin Randleman UFC 28
This was Randy Couture's first fight in the UFC in close to three years as he left the company after winning the heavyweight championship in 1997 from Maurice Smith. Randleman was coming off a successful title defense against Pedro Rizzo. Randleman actually outwrestled Couture for the first two rounds as he was able to take him down. Though Couture was able to defend nicely and didn't take that much damage. In the third round Couture took Randleman down to the ground with a nice trip and ended the fight with punches from the full mount to win his second UFC championship.
7:Gabriel Gonzaga UFC 74
Everybody was hoping for a Couture vs Cro Cop fight for the heavyweight title but we got this nice fight instead. Cro Cop took on Gabriel Gonzaga in a number one contender fight which ended with Gonzaga knocking him out with an ironic head kick. This fight at UFC 74 started off real fast with Couture getting the better of a striking exchange and busting open Gonzaga's nose. Couture continued to wreck Gonzaga in the clinch in the second round and won by TKO in the third round.
6: Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira UFC 102
Couture was offered to defend his heavyweight title at UFC 81 against Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira but it didn't end up happening as Couture was having his various disputes with the UFC at the time. The fight was then rescheduled for UFC 97 (Couture no longer had the title at this time) but it was delayed again as Couture needed surgery on his elbow. So we finally got the fight between two of the best heavyweights of all time at UFC 102. This was just a really exciting fight from start finish with great striking and excellent ground game. Unfortunately for Couture, Big Nog just got the better of most of their exchanges. He ate all of Couture's punches and swept guard both times he was on the ground. Nogueira would win by unanimous decision in the Fight of the Night and many publications would name it Fight of the Year in 2009.
5:Vitor Belfort UFC 15
The first fight in the Couture-Belfort trilogy and the best as well. This was only the third fight of Randy Couture's career and his second night of fighting after winning the UFC 13 tournament a few months earlier. Belfort was also undefeated at this point having won the UFC 12 tournament and all of his wins came be either KO or TKO. Belfort was only 20 years old at this point which is ridiculous, I can't imagine fighting Randy Couture at that age. His last victory was against Tank Abbott at UFC 13. This was a number one contender fight and Belfort was favored coming into it. Belfort's striking was amazing at the time and his last four fights combined only lasted three minutes and four seconds. Though Couture pretty much neutralized Belfort's striking as he effectively used the clinch and dirty boxing to wear him down. Then Couture timed a takedown nicely when Belfort was exhausted and finished him punches while mounted on his back at 8:17 in the first round.
4: Tito Ortiz UFC 44
Couture took on Tito Ortiz in a champion vs champion fight for the undisputed UFC light heavyweight championship. Ortiz had been the UFC light heavyweight champion for over three years and a half years with five title defenses. Thought his fight with Couture was his first fight in close to a year as he last defended his title against Ken Shamrock at UFC 40. This fight went the full five rounds and had some nice wrestling and striking exchanges. Couture won by unanimous decision as he just overpowered and outwrestled Ortiz for almost the entire fight. And the fight ended with Couture spanking Ortiz up against the cage.
3: Chuck Liddell UFC 43
After losing two heavyweight title fights in a row to Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez, Couture decided to drop down to light heavyweight. His first fight was against Chuck Liddell for the interim UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 43. The champion Tito Ortiz was not fighting at the time due to a contract dispute/ducking Chuck Liddell, so these two fought to decide who would take on Ortiz when he eventually came back. One would expect this to be a classic striker vs grappler fight but Couture decided not to go with that route. Couture shocked everyone when he out struck Liddell for three rounds and eventually won via TKO on the ground to win the interim title. Couture became the first person in the UFC to hold titles in two different
2:Pedro Rizzo UFC 32
UFC 31 was the first UFC event under Zuffa management and it was a stacked card. It had BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell, Matt Serra, Pat Miletich, and Randy Couture defending his title against Pedro Rizzo in the main event. This was Couture's first title defense and Rizzo was coming off back to back victories over Josh Barnett and Dan Severn to earn his shot at the title. Couture almost pulled out an early victory as he pummeled Rizzo's face into a bloody mess in the first round and Rizzo was saved by the bell. In the second round we would see the opposite as Rizzo would come back and Couture came close to getting knocked out but he was saved by the bell as well. The next three rounds would have some brutal back and forth exchanges and fifth round ended with Rizzo on top of Couture throwing punches. Couture won the close fight by unanimous decision but many felt Rizzo won and it set up the eventual rematch at UFC 34, which Couture won by TKO in the third round. But their first meeting was named fight of the year in 2001 by Wrestling Observer.
1: Tim Sylvia UFC 68
Randy Couture came out of retirement (only a over a year long) to take on Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 68. Couture was thirteen years older, six inches shorter, forty pounds lighter, and was at a twelve inch reach disadvantage when compared to Sylvia. Sylvia was in his second run as heavyweight champion and had defended his title twice (tied for the record). Eight seconds into the fight, Couture knocked down Sylvia with his first punch. Couture would then pounce on him and throw a lot of strikes and end the first round on Sylvia's back. Couture would control the rest of the fight, coming out on top of nearly all their striking exchanges and taking down Sylvia multiple times. Couture won the 2007 Fight of the Year by unanimous decision as he won his record fifth UFC championship at 43 years old.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fight out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Save the date: Sept 14 I make my professional wrestling debut with Pro Wrestling Syndicate.
• For next week: let me know if you would rather read Chuck Liddell's top ten fights or the top fighters to never win a title.