The UFC announced today that the main event for UFC 102 will feature five-time champion Randy "The Natural" Couture facing off against former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight champion Antonio "Minotauro" Noguiera on August 29, 2009. The event will be held at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR.
“We’re extremely excited to be heading to Portland,” UFC President Dana White said. “When you get two mixed martial arts legends that are all heart and have wanted to fight each other for years, plus the fact that Randy has roots in Oregon, that tells me that not only will the crowd be electric but it’s also a night where the fighters will be looking to cement their legacies.”
This fight can certainly be viewed as a high profile consolation prize to the UFC heavyweight title as Couture and Noguiera were both TKO'd by champion Brock Lesnar and interim champ Frank Mir, respectively, in their last bouts.
The future was a bit uncertain for Couture after his loss to Lesnar last November with many speculating that the future hall-of-famer would hang it up. While everyone else was speculating Couture was in the gym training.
"Nogueira is the type of fighter that is dangerous everywhere,” Couture said. “He’s difficult to knock out and he’s a world class jiu-jitsu player. I will have to train very diligently and very specifically for him. Also, the fact that I’m fighting in Oregon makes me want to put on a great show and win for these fans.”
With Couture turning 46 in one week he's clearly on the downside of his legendary career and a win might breathe a bit of life into his future but it would seem that he could only go so much further as Lesnar took him out in fairly devastating fashion. A loss would all but seal his fate in the sport.
The submission artist Nogiuera looks to bounce back from his first loss in three years and put himself back in the title picture.
“I’m honored to face such a great fighter as Randy Couture,” Nogueira said. “I wanted to fight him for some time now and I know to become a legend you have to beat a legend.”
At the end of the day it might not be one of the more meaningful fights as far as the future of the heavyweight division goes, but one thing that can't be disputed is that this one will be fun for as long as it lasts.