If anyone could say that age is ‘just a number’ Randy Couture would be the man to say it. The former multiple-time UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion last fought in 2011, at UFC 129. And while he lost the bout – via Karate Kid-esque crane kick – to Lyoto Machida, the defeat snapped a 3-fight winning streak for the then 47-year-old.
Over the long run, Couture may not have won all his fight. But, with a fighting career that only got started in his mid-30s, he became the poster boy for defying common wisdom about what an ‘athletic prime’ is supposed to look like – and when it’s supposed to happen. That said, he’s still got at least one reservation about the upcoming trilogy bout between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz.
Despite Liddell going 2-0 over Ortiz over his career, Couture’s concerns lie squarely with the ‘Iceman’’s chances on November 24th in the headliner of Golden Boy Promotions’ inaugural MMA event. But, it’s not Chuck’s age, nor his chin, that has the ‘Natural’ worried. It’s all his time off (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“I’m not too concerned about the age, honestly,” Couture said in a recent interview on the MMA Hour. “I fought right up until where Chuck’s at right now, at a high level. My only concern with that is that Chuck hasn’t been competing, hasn’t been sparring, hasn’t done anything in the fight realm other than regular strength and conditioning for the last eight years, since he retired.
“So that puts the pressure on him to get back up into fight shape, back up and get the timing back to where we’re used to seeing Chuck have going into a fight. He had that style where that timing was very, very important. It wasn’t that he was the biggest, strongest or best athlete. He had a very unique timing, to find you right on the end of one of those long levers and make it a short night. Now, whether he still has that timing, that’s the question.”
“Tito has been way more active,” he added, after downplaying Liddell’s potential edge from winning the first bouts between them, “had some big fights. Will he be able to go out and implement his game plan? Which has gotta be getting in Chuck’s face, finding a way to get Chuck on the ground and take some gas out of Chuck. Certainly not standing and trying to trade with Chuck and find out if he does have that timing. I think it’s gonna be interesting.”
Liddell vs. Ortiz III goes down one month from now at the historic Forum arena in Inglewood, CA. The event is expected to include UFC veterans Gleison Tibau vs. Efrain Escudero, as well as Walel Watson, Jay Silva, Tom Lawlor, Albert Morales, and Kendall Grove. Stay tuned for more news and updates as fight night approaches.