Randy Couture has been guaranteed a shot at Lyota Machida’s UFC Light Heavyweight Championship if he beats Brandon Vera. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it was on The Bleacher Report and that’s good enough for me.
If it is true then it’s crap. I jumped off the Randy Couture Warwagon when he was given—as opposed to earned—a title shot against Tim Sylvia. How does getting put to sleep twice by the light heavyweight champ earn someone a shot at the heavyweight title?
It doesn’t matter that he won the fight. He jumped to the front of the line because he would sell more pay-per-views than Andrei Arlovski.
It seems that history is repeating itself. UFC 105 is a weak fight card and Couture is being added to bolster sales in return for a title shot if he wins.
The UFC Light Heavyweight division is the most stacked division in all of MMA. Lyota Machida is the champ. The contenders are who’s who list of the top fighters in the sport. Mauricio Rua, Quentin Jackson, and Rashad Evans are at the top of the list. Each of the top three contenders has won more fights than Couture’s 16 while losing one more fight between them than Couture has lost all by himself.
Rua, Jackson, and Evans also brutalized Chuck Liddell into a forced retirement from MMA. They’re a combined 4-0 against Liddell with four (T)KO’s. Liddell brutalized Couture into a fake retirement from MMA three years ago. That was Couture’s last fight at light heavyweight.
His retirement lasted a year. Then he felt the competitive fires burning and came out of retirement—read Tim Sylvia is slow and has no ground game; I can get paid—and won the Heavyweight title. Couture slammed Gabriel Gonzaga on his face in his first title defense, then resigned from the UFC so he could fight Fedor Emelianenko in a different organization.
The UFC refused to let Couture out of his contract, and after a year of litigation Couture was pounded into the ground by Brock Lesnar. Nine months later, Couture lost to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria. That was his most recent fight.
Couture is riding a two fight losing streak. He hasn’t had been able to put three wins together in eight and a half years. He’s 16-10 overall in his MMA career, 16-9 if we pretend his loss to Vitor Belfort didn’t happen. He’s 6-7 in the UFC since the end of 2001, 6-6 without the Belfort loss.
Those aren’t quite Keith Jardine numbers, let alone immediate title shot numbers. Yet, Couture has positioned himself, again, so that all he has to do is win one fight and he gets another shortcut to another world champion, and this is a longer path than the one he took to his last championship opportunity.
My problem isn’t with Randy Couture, per se. My problem is with the match makers putting short term dollars in front of long term credibility. My problem is with a fighter getting more mileage from what he learned from Dale Carnegie than from Dan Gable.