Tonight’s UFC 102. the pay-per-view show from Portland, Oregon, features my favorite mixed martial arts fighter, the legendary Randy Couture, who, at the age of 46, will be facing a tough opponent in Antonio Nogueira in a heavyweight battle.
I’ve met Couture, spending some time with him in Las Vegas, and saw him live in March 2007 when he won the UFC heavyweight championship for the third time in a stunning upset of the much bigger Tim Sylvia in Columbus, Ohio, at UFC 68. He remains one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever covered.
Like always, I turned to my resident MMA expert, my son, Nick, who got me hooked on the sport, for an analysis of how Couture may fare against Nogueira and the outcome of the other co-main event, Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva, in a light heavyweight fight.
“Nogueira is coming off a loss to Frank Mir and is trying to redeem himself. Couture has always trained for a five-round fight, so he will be extremely explosive coming into this three-rounder. He can push the pace in a five round fight pretty good, so he is going to be able to push the pace in a three rounder a lot harder.
“Everyone talks about Nogueira’s Brazilian jiu jitsu, but Gabriel Gonzaga was great in Brazilian jiu jitsu and in the clinch, and Couture overwhelmed him with his boxing and wrestling skills. Couture should be able to do the same with Nogueira.
“In the other match, Silva is coming off a loss to Lyoto Machida. Silva is very heavy handed and is pretty good on the ground. Jardine has been on a roller coaster, with a loss, a win, a loss and then a win. I think it is Jardine’s time to shine and prove to UFC president Dana White that he is ready. Jardine is very unorthodox and hits hard and loves to bang it out. Whoever hits who first will win and that will be Jardine.”
Tune in to “The Sports Fix” co-hosted by myself and Kevin Sheehan noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN 980 AM Washington and espn980.com.
For more information about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com