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UFC 109 Preview: Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman

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There are few guys that have been counted out more times in their career than Randy "The Natural" Couture. Yet there the 46-year-old veteran was back in mid-November: getting his hand raised as the decision winner in his fight with Brandon Vera in Manchester, England. The win heralded Couture's return to the light heavyweight division, his more natural weight class. Now, for the first time in quite awhile, Couture will find himself staring across the cage at an opponent that is not significantly younger than he. Although Couture and Coleman have a similar background because of their collegiate and international wrestling credentials, there are many ways in which they differ. Couture more quickly caught onto the aspects of the standup game. His defensive head movement is not bad and he keeps his guard up well. Also, his dirty boxing from the clinch plays right into the strength of his Greco-Roman wrestling skillset. But it is in the area of stamina where Couture really separates himself. In a sport that is stocked full of phenomenally conditioned athletes, Randy Couture rightfully garners much attention for himself because of his ability to exceed the stamina of most of his peers despite his age. Randy Couture has a professional record of 17-10 with seven wins coming by way of knockout and two wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced so far is 69.8%.

45-year-old Mark "The Hammer" Coleman was a wrestling machine when he first stepped into the world of MMA back in the mid ‘90's. It was his offensive trademark of hammerfists and punches from mount and from inside his opponent's guard that helped coin the term "ground and pound". Coleman was adept at executing this gameplan and as long as he was able to follow that recipe, he had success inside the cage. Coleman has fought some of the sport's best heavyweights over the years. Now competing in the 205 pound division he is 1-1 since returning to the UFC, losing late in the third round to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and winning a decision over Stephan Bonnar in 2009. This matchup has to be seen as a reward for Coleman. It's a match that he claims to have long wanted. Mark has to be aware that this is likely his last chance to compete in a main event if he doesn't get this win. Look for him to come out with focus and a sense of urgency. Mark Coleman has a professional record of 16-9 with four wins coming by way of knockout and eight wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced so far is 72.2%.

First, there is something that I've got to admit. I'm not crazy about this main event. I know that's not going out on a limb because many have said the same thing. The card overall is fairly good and should be entertaining to watch, although UFC 110 later this month appears to be the betters show. It's just that this isn't a main event that I'm particularly interested in. Having said that, I am looking forward to UFC 109 overall as there are a few interesting storylines. It appears as though the UFC is looking to give Randy Couture the opportunity to become a contender to the light heavyweight crown. Because of his name value and prior championships at 205 pounds, combined with a decision win over Brandon Vera and a victory here, the fact is that he could find himself facing the winner of the Machida vs. Rua matchup in May. Again, this is contingent on several other variables and we'll have to see how everything plays out. These two fighters competed against each other in collegiate wrestling long ago, with Coleman earning a close win on points. Many longtime fans of the sport will remember that they were originally supposed to meet in the main event of UFC 17 way back in 1998. Now here we are in 2010 and these two old veterans, both nearly half a century old, are finally going to mix it up. I just don't see this being a good matchup for Mark Coleman, and apparently neither do the odds makers. It's true that both guys are well past their primes, but Mark was never quite as well rounded a fighter as Randy. Coleman's best weapon, his wrestling, might not be much of an advantage against Couture. And given the fact that Coleman has a history of stamina issues, this seems like a clear cut victory for Couture in my eyes. My prediction, Randy Couture by TKO in the 2nd.