As you all know we reported that Randy Couture had signed a new 28 month, 6 fight contract with the UFC just prior to his epic fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102. At the post-fight press conference, Dana White said that it would be up to Couture in regards to which division Couture decides to fight. Of course, we are talking about either the heavyweight or light heavyweight divisions. Dana White said, "He's proven that he can be competitive with the best heavyweights, but he's always been a beast at 205." Dana White mentioned Couture moving to the light heavyweight division a couple of times, but ultimately said he'll leave it up to Couture to decide what he wants to do.
My interpretation of that is that Couture and Zuffa will sit down and determine where the best ‘money' fights are for Couture and for Zuffa. The majority of them are all in the UFC light heavyweight division. The only intriguing match up for Couture at heavyweight is probably a fight with Mirko Cro Cop. However, that hinges on Mirko getting past Junior Dos Santos at UFC 103. If we take a look at the light heavyweight division, Couture could potentially fight Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Rampage Jackson, Rashad Evans, and Lyoto Machida. That's six fights right there, and they are all money fights so to speak. When asked if he planned on completing his contract of six fights Couture stated, "I'm just going to take them one at a time like I always have."
Make no mistake about it; Couture is still a great fighter at 46 years of age. However, the UFC light heavyweight division is filled with prototype Chuck Liddell's. The former UFC light heavyweight champion that brutally KO'ed Couture twice. Couture was dropped twice by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, a fighter that's not known for huge power in his hands. Couture also wasn't able to implement much of his Greco-Roman wrestling against Nogueira, nor did his cardio appear to be as good as it once was. Granted, his fight against Nogueira was fought at a very high pace for heavyweights. In all likelihood, I expect Couture to return as a light heavyweight since he's also lost his last two fights as a heavyweight. It's a perfect way to re-invent himself once again so to speak, but the question remains.
Can Randy Couture make a successful return to the UFC light heavyweight division? A division that's full of fighters with better striking with KO power and good take down defense.