In just a matter of hours, Randy Couture will return to the Octagon at UFC 91 to put his UFC Heavyweight Title on the line against the former NCAA and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. And whilst it may well be the biggest fight in MMA history, it may also be one of the easiest to analyse, given Lesnar's limited MMA experience to date. Here's how I see it...
THE KO PUNCH
This is Lesnar's key to victory - as I'm not convinced that Lesnar can submit a fighter due to his mass size - he's about 40 pounds heavier than Couture going into tonight's fight. Unless Lesnar is able to jab away at Couture all fight long like he did with Heath Herring, he needs to knock Couture out quickly. Couture has been knocked out twice in his career, both times by Chuck Liddell, who's one of the best punchers in MMA, so hopefully Lesnar's been watching a few Iceman tapes in preparation. If Lesnar's not able to do it, Couture will wear him down, and he'll do it slowly and painfully.
Lesnar's gone the distance once in his three fights, but that was just a three round fight with Herring, where Lesnar dropped him quickly, and pounded on him all fight long. I'm not convinced Lesnar can do that against Couture, and he'll have to do it for five rounds, so stamina is vital in this fight. Couture has gone 25 minutes four times in his career, winning three of those fights (his only defeat came against Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 39), his most recent coming against Tim Sylvia at UFC 68, and Sylvia's a big guy as well. So Couture knows he can wear big guys down, and as seen at the weigh in, Couture looks to be in phenomenal condition, and is prepared to go the distance if needs be.
This is Couture's first fight since August 2007, when he scored a TKO win over Gabriel Gonzaga. Since then, he's been locked in a contract dispute with Dana White, and could well be rusty going into the fight. Lesnar has learned a hell of a lot in that time frame, and I'm sure he's picked up tonnes of information regarding what Couture is likely to do. As long as Couture can get through the first round, he'll be OK - it's Lesnar's job to pounce on Couture early and unsettle him, and unlike the Frank Mir fight, if Lesnar gets Couture where he wants him, he now knows how to finish him off.
It could go one of two ways - if Lesnar gets onto Couture early, Lesnar wins, either by KO or TKO, but not by submission. Otherwise, Couture wears Lesnar down slowly and wins either by TKO late or by decision. Couture is a very difficult man to finish off, unless your name is Chuck Liddell, and I don't see Lesnar having similar KO power. Therefore, I predict that Randy Couture will hang onto his UFC Heavyweight Title, but Brock Lesnar will not disgrace himself in this fight, and this won't be his last shot at the title.