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At Age 46, Randy Couture is a Living Legend

Despite what ended up being a very decisive loss to Minotauro Nogueira on Saturday night at UFC 102, Randy Couture proved that he still belongs in a UFC Octagon. At an astonishing age 46. After the fight, the UFC endorsed the notion that Couture still has ’it’ by extending his contract, leaving him with a six-fight commitment and 28 months of service remaining on his deal.

In other words, Captain American is going nowhere, and we can look forward to seeing him throw down for a few more years. Right up to age 48.

Yes, Couture’s overall record of 16-10 does not scream Hall of Famer, but when you look at his fight logs, you can’t help but stare in awe. Nogueira happened to be just Couture’s second non-title fight in 19 UFC bouts. So while Couture’s record may not be sterling, nobody in the history of the sport has faced tougher competition more consistently. He has taken all comers, avenged losses, granted rematches, and won titles in different weight classes multiple times over.

And yes, Couture got beat decisively by Nogueira on Saturday. A 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 scoring was a bit generous in my eyes, as Couture had trouble wearing down the strong chin of Nogueira and spent a good portion of the fight defending against submissions. There were three times (strikes, a D’Arce Choke, and a front head-and-arm triangle) that most thought the fight was over, but Couture persevered and escaped each time. His striking still looked strong, and his defense was generally impressive.

One would think, however, that Couture is due for a drop to Light Heavyweight. At 220 pounds, Couture is one of the lightest Heavyweights on the circuit and will give up weight to almost any competitor. For a wrestling specialist, this is a fairly large issue, though it hadn’t plagued Couture until recent fights against Lesnar and, to a lesser degree, Nogueira. A switch to Light Heavyweight could produce intriguing potential match-ups with Lyoto Machida, Tito Ortiz, Anderson Silva, Rampage Jackson, Shogun Rua, and more.

Regardless of where he heads in his next six fights, Couture is the face of Mixed Martial Arts past and one of the first true legends in the sport. The fact that he is still competing at age 46 puts him in a class with Julio Franco, Chris Chellios, Kevin Willis, John Carney, and Archie Moore as the ageless icons of sport. He is an ambassador for the sport and the UFC, but it appears too soon, still, to speak about him in terms reserved for the retired.

For Nogueira, a title shot may be on the horizon against Brock Lesnar, should he defeat Shane Carwin in November. While it hasn’t been confirmed, Nogueira is the last of the four men who took part in the de facto tournament for the Heavyweight title last year (Lesnar d. Couture, Mir d. Nogueira, Lesnar d. Mir) to get a shot at the non-interim belt, and a win over Couture is great for the resume.

For Couture, the future is bright but cloudy. Another title shot seems a few fights away, and without a move to Light Heavyweight, potential opponents (save for Mir) are difficult to get excited about. Still, there’s no questioning his continued ability to fight and draw a crowd – after all, UFC 102 was a fairly thin card at the top (albeit with great depth) and Couture v. Nogueira did a good job buoying the card as a main event.

I’d expect an announcement on Couture’s near-term future soon, as the UFC hype machine has been doing a good job announcing fights for their top guys well in advance of late.

And finally, on a non-Couture note, the next two UFC events take place September 16 and 19: UFC Fight Night 19 on the 16th, kicking off the next TUF season and headlined by Nate Diaz v. Melvin Guillard and Gray Maynard v. Roger Huerta; and UFC 103 on the 19th, headlined by Vitor Belfort v. Rich Franklin, Mirko Cro Cop v. Junior dos Santos, and Martin Kampmann v. Mike Swick.

What? Hell yeah I self promote and cyber-stalk celebrities via Twitter! I sign on like twice a week, ya! You can follow me here.

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