From the first time I saw Randy Couture fight, I was a fan.
I got into the sport of MMA in 2006, and the first fight I watched was UFC 61: Bitter Rivals. The main events were Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski and Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz 2. I was disappointed because the Sylvia/Arlovski fight was boring, and I felt the Tito/Ken fight was stopped way too early.
But despite the fights that I saw, I was hooked. My family and I continued buying the UFC fights on PPV...when the prices were fair (about $30.00).
Finally, the night of UFC 68 was upon me.
The Main Event was Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia. Randy Couture was coming out of a year long retirement to fight Tim Sylvia for the Heavyweight Title. I remember NOBODY was giving Randy a chance because his last fight was at light-heavyweight against Chuck Liddell and he got knocked out.
Everyone was saying, "How is Randy going to beat a 6'8", 265 lb. heavyweight if he can't beat a 6'2'', 205 lb. Chuck Liddell?"
I was rooting for Randy; I had never seen him fight before, but I immediately became a fan. I will admit, though, I was wondering how he was going to beat a guy that much bigger than him. However, in the next eight seconds I was shocked and relieved, like everyone else who was watching the fight that night.
Randy and Tim met at the center of the ring and touched gloves. After quickly circling each other, Randy threw an inside leg kick and hit Tim with an overhand right. Immediately, Tim Sylvia was on his ass and Randy Couture had swarmed all over him.
After that, Randy was able to out-wrestle Sylvia to keep him down, and eventually had his back and almost rear-naked choked him in the first round. Unfortunately, Tim was able to recover and prevent Randy from submitting him.
Over the next four rounds though, it was clear who was going home with the belt that night, as Randy outboxed him on the feet, and took him down at will with his superior wrestling. That night Randy won a unanimous decision over Tim Sylvia and took home the Heavyweight Title for a record third time.
Following this win, Randy TKO'd Gabriel Gonzaga in the third round of their fight. But Randy fell into a rut again at heavyweight when he fought the Goliath known as Brock Lesnar, and lost a unanimous decision to Minotauro Nogueira.
Since then, he dropped down to light-heavyweight again and beat young contender Brandon Vera and fellow UFC Hall-of-Famer Mark Coleman.
Since his recent wins at light-heavyweight, there has been a lot of speculation as to whom Randy will face next. Some people want to see him fight the winner of Rampage/Rashad, and then the winner of that gets the chance to fight the winner of Shogun/Machida 2.
Then, after some time, it was announced that his next opponent would be Rich Franklin, which is a crucial fight for both men.
If Randy beats Franklin, it shows again that he can beat an elite fighter, a guy 12 years his junior, and allows him to take another step closer to getting a title shot at the winner of Machida/Shogun 2. If he loses however, it sets him back in the light-heavyweight division, and he won't get a title shot anytime soon.
If Rich Franklin beats Randy Couture, he beats a legend in the sport, can add another credible name to his resume, and can get his fight career back on track since losing to Vitor Belfort last fight by knockout.
If he loses, however, it sets his career back since returning to the light-heavyweight division, and he might reconsider dropping back down to middleweight for good.
Either way, this fight is going to be good, and I'm pulling for Couture to win over Rich Franklin. If Randy wins, he has two fights left on his contract. That's enough for him to get a shot at the title.
Here's how I see the light-heavyweight division playing out over the next few months:
1. Shogun Rua is going to beat Machida, AGAIN, but more decisively.
2. Rampage Jackson is going to knockout Rashad Evans in the second round of their fight.
3. Hopefully, Randy beats Rich Franklin.
4. Then Randy will either fight Rashad Evans or Lyoto Machida, depending on who will be ready to fight Randy. (My bet is that it will be Machida since Rashad likes to duck fighters, just like Tito.)
5. Then, Rampage will avenge his loss to Shogun by knockout.
6. Randy Couture will get the upset win over Machida or Evans by unanimous decision.
7. Randy's fight contract will be up after that, but he'll re-sign with the UFC for the one fight with Rampage Jackson.
8. At UFC 140, the main event will be Randy Couture vs. Rampage Jackson. I predict two outcomes. Rampage Jackson by knockout in the second round and Randy Couture announces his retirement, or Randy Couture beats Rampage by unanimous decision to nab the light-heavyweight title for a third time.
Then Randy will re-sign with the UFC for more fights and fight a few more times and retire at 50.
That is what I would love to see happen for Couture over the next year or so. Let me know what you guys think.