by Matthew DeMarinis
On August 29, 2009, a titanic clash between Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, two of the most highly-decorated heavyweights in mixed martial arts history, will take place at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. Former UFC Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Randy "The Natural" Couture (16-9 MMA, 13-6 UFC) is attempting to return to title contention after suffering a TKO loss at the hands of current champ Brock Lesnar in November 2008 at UFC 91. This will be the first time Couture has fought in a three-round non-title fight since August 2005, when he defeated Mike Van Arsdale via third round submission at UFC 54.
Former Pride and UFC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minatouro" Nogueira (31-5-1 (1 NC) MMA, 2-1 UFC) will be stepping back into the Octagon for the first time since suffering the first stoppage loss of his career to former heavyweight champ Frank Mir at UFC 92 in December 2008. At 33-years old, Nogueira has come under fire for perhaps sustaining too much damage throughout his career. Nogueira is confident that the fans have yet to see him fight to the best of his abilities inside the Octagon, and he will attempt to silence his critics with a victory over Couture at UFC 102.
Notable Quotes from Randy Couture:
What keeps him going and what separates him from other fighters:
"I can't speak for other fighters. I can only talk about myself. I think I just have a passion for the sport. I enjoy the training process. I enjoy being in the gym, and mixing it up with the guys, learning new skills, and developing as an athlete. Also the competition. It's what I love to do."
What he thinks are the keys to beating Brock Lesnar:
"I think it's going to boil down to outwrestling him. He's a big, strong, athletic guy, and standing in front of him and trying to punch it out with him is probably a bad idea. I think using the cage and finding ways to make him fight off of his back is probably the way to get to him and potentially beat him. Still, there's no easy way around a guy that size."
Notable Quotes from Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira:
Addressing his critics:
"Bad fights happen, you know. You won't be 100% for every fight. In my last fight I had a knee injury 15 days before. It's no excuse, but I couldn't be in shape when my knee was out. It was very bad for me to fight. I couldn't move at all, and that day Frank caught me with a good left hand three times. He made the fight, he made very good that night. I'm just thinking about my next fight right now. I'm very well prepared, and in good shape. I haven't been in this kind of shape since 2005. I'm very good right now."
Conference Call Summary And Full Audio: MMA Spot