The epic trilogy between Chuck and Randy will live on in the memories of MMA fans forever.
After his fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 129, Randy Couture will retire from the sport he loves so dearly.
After his fight with Rich Franklin at UFC 115, Chuck Liddell reluctantly retired from the sport he loved so dearly.
Yet, it is hard to imagine talking about one of these great Hall of Famers without mentioning the other. The reason I suppose, comes from their three fight saga that entrenched fans into the sport of MMA; something along the lines of what Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar did for the sport and around the same timeframe.
And yet, here we are again on the cusp of the end of Couture's career, reminded of the career-defining moments that made up one of the greatest UFC fighters ever.
In their first meeting at UFC 43, Couture came into the bout a heavy underdog (as usual), and was thrown into the fight mainly because of Tito Ortiz' reluctance to fight Liddell. In the book "Total MMA" by Jonathan Snowden, Snowden masterfully details the struggle, noting Liddell's frustration with Ortiz and Couture's stance on the fight.
Early in the fight, Couture nullified Liddell's heavy punches with a good combination of punches and ground and pound. He eventually took down Liddell handily, and eventually defeated Liddell in the third round via TKO, throwing the MMA world into mass confusion when the older, supposedly less-skilled Couture defeated the younger, heavy-handed striking Liddell to win the UFC light heavyweight championship. This marked the first time a fighter had won UFC gold in different weight classes.
The rematch between the two, much like the rematch Couture had with Belfort, didn't go The Natural's way, as Liddell knocked out Couture after Couture rushed in with a few ill-advised punches. The win set up what would be at that time the UFC's highest grossing gate and PPV buys at UFC 57.
The third fight between the two ended anti-climatically in the second round, with Couture once again being knocked out by a right hand from Liddell. After this fight, Couture announced he would retire from MMA for the first time.
Even though Couture lost two out of the three bouts with Liddell, it was because of fights like these why no one will ever question the will and endurance Randy Couture has shown in his career.
From the bottom of every MMA fans heart, you will truly be missed Randy Couture.
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