My Most Valuable Player is something new I am going to do after each major UFC & Strikeforce event. I will analyze the card from top to bottom once the fights have ended and determine what fighter proved to be the most valuable fighter that particular night. What fighter was the least indispensable to that particular card.
It's not always going to be the best fighter, the best athlete or the fighter who put in the best performance of the night, we are looking for the fighter who was just as valuable inside the Octagon as he was on the outside of it. For UFC 129 there were a few fighters I considered before choosing the man I did.
I looked at Mark Hominick because he not only put on a hell of a fight, he still has the sports world talking about the hematoma on his head and the huge spirit and heart he displayed as he not only battled on, he actually took the fight to Jose Aldo in the fifth round, almost ending the contest due to strikes.
Georges St. Pierre get consideration because he puts people in the seats and is responsible for a good portion of the pay-per-view buys. His in-cage performance left a lot to be desired and knocked him out pretty quickly. Then there was Lyoto Machida who looked like The Dragon of old as he Karate-Kicked Randy Couture into retirement. He fails because he isn't the type of fighter people will pay $50 to watch fight.
So that leaves me with the man who has been one of the Most Valuable Fighters in mixed martial arts since he began fighting at the age of 34 back in 1997. Call him what you like, The Natural, Captain America, a hero or just plain old Randy Couture, but don't forget to call him valuable. Even though he lost on Saturday night, he has done so much for the sport inside and outside of the Octagon that even the most casual fan would understand just how valuable Couture is.
Whether it was winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship for the first time against Maurice Smith in just his 4th professional fight or his surprise knockout of "The Iceman" Chuck Liddell to capture his first UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at the age of 40 back in 2003, Couture has always been there when the UFC needed him most.
When they decided to take on the huge task of putting on a show at The Rogers centre in front of 55,000 fans, it didn't take long for UFC President Dana White to make sure there was a prominent spot for Couture on the card. The fact that they felt confident enough in Couture at 47-years-old to match him up with a younger, faster Lyoto Machida is proof enough that they know people will tune into watch Couture fight.
So even though his in-ring performance wasn't what we had hoped it would be, just his mere presence alone sparked a ton of interest in UFC 129, his name recognition alone helped people decide that ordering the pay-per-view was worth the price. That is where Couture proved once again just how valuable he is.
Now that he is no longer an active fighter all we have are memories and videotapes, but when you think about it, those are some awesome memories. Think back to March 3, 2007 at UFC 68 and how he came out of a self imposed 13 month retirement to knock the giant Tim Sylvia down just six seconds into their fight and how he went on to capture the UFC Heavyweight Championship for the third and final time.
Think back to how loud the fans were cheering for him before, during and after his bout with Machida on Saturday night. It's memories like those that will prove just how valuable Couture was to the UFC, mixed martial arts and to the millions of fans who had the privilege of watching him perform over the past 14 years.