With his recent demolition of fellow UFC Hall of Famer Mark “The Hammer” Coleman at UFC 109, Randy Couture has strategically positioned himself for one last chance at championship glory.
Two consecutive wins over worthy opponents that had themselves been coming off of victories have separated Randy from the pack of an extremely talent filled weight division with no clear cut number one contender. Brandon Vera had two wins at the weight class going into his loss suffered at the hands of Couture, and of course Coleman was fighting on the heels of his one sided victory over Stephan Bonnar.
The recent ups and downs of the 205 pound division have created a scenario where “Captain America” – whether you like it or not – has established himself as a clear challenger to the title.
It is a commonly accepted fact hat the UFC’s 205 pound weight class is among the most ferociously stacked in the sport, and this may be a large part of the reason that many have trouble accepting the forty-six year old legend of the game as a legitimate challenger to the throne. But let me tell you, that’s exactly what he is.
So if not Randy; Who then? Let’s take a look at the others that could be considered worthy of championship contender recognition:
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: As it stands right now it has been just shy of a full year since Rampage last saw action and the performance the former champion turned in against Keith (2-4 in his last 6) Jardine was far from impressive. Let’s not forget that the bout between Jackson and Jardine was hardly considered to be a blowout in Quinton’s favor. Based on Jackson’s inactivity and lack of a notable victory in his last three bouts I find it hard to get excited about an immediate title shot for the movie star if – and that’s a strong if – he can get past Rashad Evans at UFC 114 in May.
Rashad Evans: Evans showed nothing in his previous bout with Thiago Silva that made me believe the outcome in a rematch with Lyoto Machida would be any different. The only way I see Rashad being justified to bypass Randy for a title shot here is if the “Sugar” manages to carve through Rampage like a knife through butter during their anticipated UFC 114 match-up; And if Mauricio “Shogun” Rua walks away with the championship in his rematch with Machida which is expected for UFC 113. If Machida pulls out the victory in that bout I’d much rather see some fresh blood face off with “The Dragon”, at least until Evans makes a believer out of me through his performances in the Octagon.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I feel like I may be grasping at straws here even throwing Nogueira’s name in the mix. It’s not that he’s not a worthy contender – he absolutely is – but more that he’s only fought once with the UFC at this point. However, UFC 114 should be a big event as far as determining the next challenger for the 205 pound crown is concerned being that Rashad and Rampage are expected to clash at the event, while Rogerio and Forrest Griffin also duke it out in a bout that carries just as much weight and relevance in the division as the previously mentioned match-up.
Forrest Griffin: Forrest is coming off of a big win over UFC legend Tito Ortiz, but let’s not forget that the man is 1-2 in his last three, and that’s the bottom line. With that being said, a win over Nogueira at UFC 114 combined with all of the star power that makes the case for Randy such an easy one to make, could tip the scales heavily in Griffin’s favor. I don’t think a bout with Machida would be a good look for Griffin… at all. But on the other side of that coin, if Shogun comes out on top a rematch between the two would make perfect sense.
Jon Jones: It’s going to happen sooner or later. This kid is talented beyond belief, and with a 3-1 record that should be 4-0, a decisive win over Brandon Vera during the first UFC on Versus would definitely propel “Bones” in the right direction. Is he ready to challenge for the title? Sure. But I feel like Jones needs to be built up just a little more with the masses at this point, and headlining status on a free event on a major cable television network should go a long way in doing just that.
Perhaps the one decisive difference between Randy and the previously mentioned challengers to the light heavyweight championship in the UFC that stands out the most is that all of those other guys will have other opportunities to get a crack at the belt at some point. Most likely all of them will if they keep winning. But honestly, at a soon to be forty-seven years young, how much longer should we have this living legend prove that he’s worthy to challenge for the title one last time? Should we wait until he suffers a defeat and expect for him to work his way back up? That’s not going to happen. The time is now.
In my opinion Randy Couture has earned his shot at the title one last time, not only due to his recent back-to-back victories over more than worthy opposition, but through a lifetime of sacrifice and dedication to insuring this amazing sport we have all come to love would flourish for years to come when we needed him the most.
So why wait? I say make Couture’s next bout a championship bout. The man’s not getting any younger, and how cool would it be if the legend could pull it off one last time? Stranger things have happened.