On February 6th, it will be the first time that MMA fans will see two active Hall-Of-Famers fighting each other inside the Cage. Mark Coleman and Randy Couture have both accomplished just about all a fighter can hope to accomplish inside the cage and both have had tremendous careers. Mark Coleman was the first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion. And at one time in his career, Coleman was at the top of the Heavyweight division and was the guy that everyone was gunning for. Randy Couture on the other hand is a five-time champion in the UFC in two different weight classes and his accomplishments are numerous.
When you look at the fact that both of these guys are active Hall-Of-Famers and you look at both of their resumes, it looks to be a battle of legends. While this fight will feature two of the most accomplished MMA fighters in the history of the sport, they both combine to be the age of 90 and are in the twilight of their careers. This fight was supposed to happen ten years ago. Had it happened then, it would’ve been a much more anticipated fight than it will on February 6th. Randy Couture joined the Fight Show on Hardcore Sports Radio to talk about the upcoming fight against Mark Coleman, why this fight didn’t happen earlier in their careers, what he learned from the Brandon Vera fight, and what will be the key to victory against Coleman.
“(Laughing) I don’t know. I don’t plug into it. It’s negative energy that I don’t plug into. I don’t need to. It’s about performance. I’ve had a great seven week training camp and I’m just putting the finishing touches on my last hard week this week, I will taper off next week and roll into the fight recovered and fully energized. Ready to go out and have a good performance and that all it’s all about. I think all that other stuff is sideline. I guess people are interested because a lot of people are in their 40’s who can relate and wonder what they’d do, how they’d feel and just in the training alone, let alone going out and competing in the cage. I think that’s where the interest and the intrigue comes from.”
On the fight against Brandon Vera:
“I think a lot of people don’t give Brandon enough credit. I think Brandon is very talented. Just because we haven’t seen him use his wrestling ability, maybe I underestimated it too. I think he did his homework, he knew what kind of tools I used in the past and he was ready to deal with those situations in the clench, in the single leg and some of the things that I’ve taken a lot of the other guys down with. I felt like I should’ve had more top level wrestling guys in that were hard to take down in the training environment that woulda prepared me for Brandon and Brandon’s skills. I felt comfortably that I won the first and the third round pretty clearly. Obviously Brandon hit me with a nice liver kick in the second round and I think that was attributed to my strength coach that I was able to recover from that kick, finish the round and come back and be strong in the third round.”
On the way that the fights are judged:
“Absolutely okay with and like the way the fights are scored. Obviously there is always an education process. Make sure the judge that is sitting down on that side of the cage knows what he’s looking at, knows what constitutes a 10-9 round or a 10-8 round knows who’s adept at ground fighting enough to know that just because a guy is on the bottom, doesn’t mean he’s losing the fight, he can control the tempo of the fight and force the pace of the fight even from the bottom position. I think there’s been an ongoing education process for the judges many of whom come from more traditional styles of fighting like boxing and it’s taken a while to get them up to speed with the wrestling and the grappling and all the other stuff that they’re looking at.”
On whether he would like to see former MMA fighters get into refereeing after their career:
“I think that is a very good argument. Certainly having some perspective, having been on the mat, having at least partaken in some form of martial arts gives you a better perspective to judge what you’re looking at with two athletes competing. I’m hoping that we will see more and more athletes that retire or step away that come back in that capacity and give back to the sport both as referees and judges and continue to push the sport and move it forward.
On why this fight didn’t happen earlier in their careers:
“I was training at the time for the national tournament in wrestling. I was training with Dan Henderson of all people. He was trying to turn me in a practice with a gutwrench and popped some rib cartilage high in my rib cage and not only didn’t get to compete in the nationals but had to pull out of the fight with Mark that was supposed to happen a few weeks after the national tournament. It was an injury that caused me to have to step out of that and of course Mark historically went on and fought Pete Williams in that fight.”
On the keys to winning the fight against Mark Coleman:
“I think you’ve gotta be attentive. He doesn’t throw a lot of combinations, but he’s a very powerful guy. If you stand around in front of him he’s gonna try and hit you with some good hooks and overhand rights. He’s gonna follow those with a straight double leg. Knowing what you’re looking for there and being ready for that is a big key. The more times you can stuff Mark and keep him from taking you down or make him work real hard to take you down is gonna pay dividends on the conditioning side of things even in a three round fight.
He’s shown that’s a potential weakness for him that he’s not always in shape to keep a high paced fight. I think there’s some things there. I’ve always been one to do some worst-case scenario training. A guy like Mark Coleman takes you down and plants himself on top of ya, you have to be able to deal with that and be able to survive those situations. I’ve spent a lot of time working on the bottom and working on creating some situations where I think I can be effective and make it hard on Mark.”
On whether or not he would like a rematch with Brock Lesnar:
“You never say never. I think it’s still a possibility. I think there’s still a lot of interest in seeing a rematch in that fight. I felt like I was doing things the way I was trained to do them and things were going pretty well, but he’s a big strong guy and he caught me with a good one. That’s the fight game. That’s the way it goes. Just have to wait and see what opportunities present themselves and we’ll be ready either way.”