Each December I count down the top 25 fights in UFC history. With each day of December, I will be revealing the newest fight on the list, with the #1 fight being revealed on Christmas morning. With approximately 550-600 new UFC fights each year, the list will look different than the year before. The criteria for ranking these fights are the amount of action, competitiveness, and significance of the fight (main events/title fights tend to get some extra credit).
So let’s get to the list
#25 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Randy Couture
August 29th, 2009
Main Event of UFC 102
Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon.
There really doesn’t need to have an introduction. If you are reading this, chances are you know all about these two fighters. Both guys are legends of the sport. I recently ranked both guys in my top 10 greatest MMA fighters ever. Couture was a 5-time UFC champion, winning the belt in two different weight classes. Nogueira won the Pride FC heavyweight title, and also won the UFC interim heavyweight title.
Both guys were near the end of their career when they faced. Nogueira was 33 years old, but been through so many wars previously, while Couture was 46 years old at the time of the fight.
Couture had just lost his UFC heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar, while Nogueira had just lost his interim heavyweight title to Frank Mir. This fight was about legacy.
In the beginning of round 1, Couture looked very light on his feet. He landed several shots until Nogueira dropped Couture with a big right hand. Nogueira jumped into a very deep D’Arce choke. Couture found a way to escape from the submission, put on him for several minutes, by one of the greatest grapplers in MMA history. The fight gets to the feet, and Couture lands several big shots as the round ends.
In the second round, the action picks up even more. The Natural started to land bombs again, but Minotauro hurt Couture with a big left hook. Couture responds with a takedown and very big ground and pound. However, Couture overextends himself, and Nogueira lands a perfect scissor switch, to gain the top control. Nogueira sinks in a deep head and arm triangle. Somehow, Couture gets out again, but Nogueira lands big ground and pound. Couture is able to scramble to his feet and again lands big shots. Nogueira responds with his own shots, and both guys fire shots to the end of the bell.
In the third round, the start where they left off in the second. Both former champions throw bombs at each other, with Nogueira landing the best shot of the fight, an uppercut that floors Couture. Nogueira goes in for the kill, landing several unanswered hammerfists. Couture is desperate and attempts to scramble. Nogueira grabs Couture’s back and sinks in hooks. After shots from behind, Couture reverses Nogueira and starts landing his own ground and pound, trying to win the fight. The crowd goes crazy, up to the bell, as Nogueira lands another scissor sweep. Two legends letting it all hangout.
Results and Notes:
Nogueira wins a unanimous decision.
This fight was so good. It probably didn’t have as much action as the #24 and #25, but at Couture’s and Nogueira’s age, it was just plain nuts. Both guys have arguably the greatest heart of all time. Plus the fight gets more points for being the main event, and a dream matchup for many.
The biggest difference in this fight seemed to be the size advantage and power Nogueira had on Couture, who really should just be a light heavyweight.
I wish these guys fought during their primes. However, this fight didn’t let down. It was an honor watching these guys fight.