Saturday, November 15, 2008

UFC 91: Couture v. Lesnar

In reading the predictions by the experts about this fight, it looks like a majority side with Randy, but all give Brock a chance based on his size, strength, and wrestling ability. As much as I am a fan of Randy, and think he is all-around the best guy (not best fighter) in the sport, I am going against the majority and am picking Brock. First of all, this is a bad match up at a bad time for Randy. I was watching the UFC 91 preview the other night and they were showing old Randy, you know, before he was old. That Randy was thicker and more powerful, and on account of that, he was able to hang in the heavyweight division against guys who had the mass and size of a Kevin Randleman. Today, Randy is much leaner and lighter, and he just does not have the thickness and strength to keep up with a guy as powerful and massive as Brock. I know Randy has fought guys like Tim Sylvia since moving back up to heavyweight at this lighter, leaner weight, but Tim Sylvia is no comparison to Brock. He is not as strong or mobile, and his base is nowhere near as solid as Brock's, so Randy was able to keep him off balance, tie him up, and use that to get some good strikes and takedowns. That wont happen with Brock though. Second, Randy's clinch game is not going to work on Brock. Brock will be able to shuck the clinch off with his power and keep out of it with his speed. But, if Randy does get a clinch lockup, I think Brock will just use it to ram Randy into the cage, either breaking the clinch or then use it to take Randy down once he has him up against the fence. Third, Randy must be very careful with trying to engage in a striking match up. Yes, Brock has not been tested here. We don't know what kind of a chin he has, and we don't know if is able to allude and block punches and kicks. However, we do know that when guys get close enough for him to connect, he can send them flying across the ring with a short, snappy blow, like he did with Heath Herring. Randy must be very careful if he wants to try to keep this thing standing up. Besides having to fear a counter-strike, he also has to worry about being taken down by Brock if he chooses to stand and trade. So a striking game is going to be difficult to pull off. I think the best striking game plan Randy could come up with is the one Marco Ruas pulled off on a much larger Paul Varelin. but Randy has never shown that kind of game or skill before. If he has developed it in preparation, then hats off to Randy. Fourth, when this fight hits the ground, its not a great place for Randy simply because Brock's size and wrestling skill neutralize Randy's greatest strength. I just don't seem him pulling off a submission, and I don't see him riding a top position and just wearing Brock out. So even on the ground, where on paper, Randy has an edge, I still don't see it working out for him.

I call this fight for Brock somewhere before the end of the fourth round. At some point Brock's size is going to be too much even for a cardio freak like Randy to push around, he will get tired and Brock will secure a stoppage via strikes. I seek the night ending with an interim belt around Brock's waist and hopefully looking forward to a rematch with Frank Mir after he beats Nogueira.