UFC 129 Fight Card: Can Loser of Couture vs. Machida Fight Wear a Belt Again?

Tim DaveyContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2011

One of the more intriguing MMA matchups slated for 2011 is the clash between former champions Lyoto Machida and Randy Couture at UFC 129 in Toronto.

With both men desperate for another title shot, this matchup should bring out the best in both of these proud warriors whose road back to the belt will take a severe setback from a loss in this fight.

Given the recent record of Machida and the age of Couture, it is possible that a loss will spell the end for not only the title aspirations, but possibly the UFC career of the loser.

Despite being on a three-fight win streak, Couture, nicknamed the “The Natural,” has only had two wins at light heavyweight in the past five years, both of which were against fighters who have since been cut from the UFC. 

Rightly or wrongly, Couture’s age means any loss is likely to be perceived as Father Time catching up with the former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion as the UFC Hall of Famer is now 47 and unlikely to have more than five fights left in him.

A loss to “The Dragon” would mean that one last title shot would be all but out of reach for the MMA legend, and would more than likely spell the end of his decorated career.

Whilst the career implications of a loss are clear for Couture, the consequences of defeat are ambiguous for “The Dragon”. A loss to Couture would be his third in a row and the third of his career, following his knockout loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and controversial split decision loss to Rampage Jackson at UFC 123.

Whilst the UFC generally uses a "three strikes and you’re out" policy, it is unlikely that a loss would result in Machida being cut from the UFC. Given the controversy surrounding his loss to Jackson and the fact that he was the champ less than a year ago, it's hard to see Machida getting his marching orders even if he loses to Couture.

Also working in his favour is the potential goldmine for the UFC of a rubber match with Shogun. This would be in the distant future, unless Shogun loses the title.

A loss will leave Machida a long way away from another shot at light heavyweight glory. Nevertheless, Machida will not feel completely safe in the promotion if he is defeated by Couture.

Prediction: Machida by TKO.