Is Lyoto Machida the Man to End Randy Couture?
By Matthew DeGonzaque, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 31, 2011)
After spending the better part of a decade being counted out and underestimated, only to shock the world with upset victory after upset victory, has Randy Couture finally found the opponent who is the one obstacle he just can't overcome? Its been reported that Couture has agreed to face former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida (15-2) at UFC 129 on April 30th at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.

It's a dangerous fight and one that Couture (19-10) demanded as his next fight. It's surprising that Couture would look for a fight with someone like Machida right now, considering interests he has occuring outside of his fighting career that continue to take him away from fighting like his film work. Couture has been expressing more and more interest in completely transitioning into acting work instead of continuing on as a fighter in his late forties. Its a strategy that is beginning to pay off as Couture is currently filming a role in Set Up starring Bruce Willis and is tentatively scheduled to appear in The Expendables 2, the sequel to the Sylvester Stallone summer action hit that Couture had a supporting role in.

In addition to Couture's fledgling film career, Couture has indicated that he knows that he is no longer a top fighter anymore. “My last few fights in honesty were novelty fights... so I think I would entertain another novelty-type fight” and “...I don't see myself making another run at the title, at heavyweight or light-heavyweight, being honest”.

Couture is telling the truth. His last three opponents; Brandon Vera, Mark Coleman and James Toney were not important fights and did not bring him closer to a title fight. All three fights were made by the UFC to help increase the importance of weaker UFC cards by adding Couture to it. His last two important fights, against Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, were at heavyweight and he was decisively beaten both times.

Couture sounds like a fighter who realizes that he is at the end of his career and is easing his way out of the sport with entertaining, but irrelevant fights. Machida is not a novelty fight. He is going to be a much more difficult fight than anyone Couture has faced since his return to Light Heavyweight. Machida may have lost his last two fights but he is still in the top 5 in the light heavyweight division. After the statements he has made about winding down his career, its admirable that Couture is gunning for one of the divisions toughest challengers. He doesn't want to leave the sport quietly and wants to go out on top.

Couture is a smart fighter, by asking for this fight he must see something in Machida's game he thinks he can exploit. Couture is one of the smartest fighters in the game, one of the guys who really breaks down a fighter and comes up with a solid strategy on how to defeat an opponent.

Its not going to work this time. Simply put, Randy Couture doesn't have the skills to beat Lyoto Machida in 2011.

Lyoto Machida is one of the most difficult opponents to deal with in the sport. His defense and footwork is some of the best in the sport, he easily frustrates fighters by dodging their attacks. His karate background gives him an unusual edge as well, his offense is lightning fast and comes from various angles that most fighters aren't prepared for. Randy was hurt several times and almost stopped by the Brandon Vera's leg kicks at UFC 105, Randy was able to stall and survive in that fight, but how is he going to handle the offense of a superior opponent this time? Machida can and will hurt Randy Couture.

Randy Couture's stand up is not on the caliber of Machida, nor is it on the level of most of the top of the division. Machida's last opponent, Rampage, is a far better striker than Couture and he spent most of his fight with Machida swinging at air. Randy has always used his strikes to set up his takedowns, he is going to have to remember that instead of letting Machida dictate the fight and force Randy to chase him around the cage looking to land shots on him.

Randy's best chance at victory is his wrestling game, it has always been. Couture might be able to scoop up a leg and use it to take Machida down. He has to keep Machida on his back and stifle his offense. Other fighters like Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans and Rampage had trouble effectively wrestling with Machida during their fight. Couture is going to need to keep that in mind when trying to Machida down, he needs to be creative with his takedowns to keep Machida guessing. Don't just press him up against the cage and double leg him, mix it up a little bit and out wrestling Machida just might work out.

Its going to be an interesting, entertaining fight and chances are it will be the last major fight of Randy Couture's career. Its admirable that the former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion is attempting to make a last run at the division's elite, but I'm in agreement with Randy's sentiments that its too late for him to make another run at the championship. He can't get to Shogun if he can't get through Machida.

My prediction for the fight: Machida does what Machida does best, he circles away from Couture and avoids the aging veteran's offense and takedown attempts. Randy gamely tries to get Machida to the ground, but every time he gets in close Machida makes him pay with his counter strikes. Randy gets rattled by Machida's kicks to the body and legs which limit the mobility of 'The Natural'. Machida turns it on towards the end of the first round and uses a barrage of punches, knees and leg kicks that batters Couture and puts him away. Machida wins by TKO in the 1st or 2nd round.

But then again, I could be wrong, maybe Randy 'The Natural' Couture has one last great upset left in him? Maybe he can make become a serious contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at 47 years old. That's why they have the fights.

Questions or comments,
Matthew at:

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