Saturday, November 15, 2008

UFC 91: Couture v. Lesnar Main Event Predictions

With UFC 91 happening today I figured now was the time I should put my picks up here for posterity and to be ridiculed should they be completely off base.

I wanted to pick the whole card, but lets face it, there are really only two fights that are truly must see fights, so I’ll stick with them. Click “Read More” for lots of prognostication goodness.

First, Kenny Florian v. Joe Stevenson: Both of these guys seem to be improving every time they fight, though I think Florian has a slight edge in just about every aspect except wrestling. Combine that with Florian’s size and reach advantage and I see a decision victory going his way.

Now for the main event Randy Couture v. Brock Lesnar: The chorus of people who said they’d “never pick against Randy Couture ever again” have started doing just that…again. So much so that the line in Vegas which started close to even now has Randy as a +120 underdog.

It’s understandable to see Lesnar winning this fight. He’s probably the single most physically gifted fighter in MMA. Plus, in his victory over Heath Herring he showed that his MMA learning curve is almost superhuman. Yes, he is faster, stronger, younger, etc.

Despite all that Randy Couture will still walk out of the MGM Grand victorious. He’s the best strategist in the sport and I find it hard to believe that he hasn’t found more than a few paths to victory. Add to that the fact that Randy is also one of the best in the sport at making his opponent fight the fight that he wants them to fight.

So how will it go down? If I had to guess based off of what Randy has hinted at in his interviews I’d say he’s planning to show the world that Lesnar’s speed advantage is only in one direction. Lesnar probably is the quicker fighter going straight ahead, but given his 265+ pound frame I’m not convinced that he’s faster than Couture going side to side.

My hunch that we might see Couture test Lesnar’s lateral movement was only strengthed when he weighed in at a pretty lean 220 pounds instead of going for a bulkier 225 or 230. I look for Couture to circle a lot early on and base his striking, clinching, and takedown attempts on finding Lesnar slightly off balanced.

If Couture can take the fight into the later rounds with this strategy (or something else) then I’d surprisingly have to give the edge to the 45 year old. Randy might be pretty aged, but if Lesnar has to go back and forth for 3 or 4 rounds his size will probably begin to become something of a liability. It’s not that I doubt Brock’s cardio, it’s as good as it can be for a man of his size. It’s just that physiologically it will take more oxygen to fuel Lesnar’s 265+ pounds than it will Couture’s 220. It’s essentially the same difference we see when a defensive lineman has a long fumble return compared to when a linebacker or large running back has a long run. The larger man is completely exhausted whereas the smaller man is just beginning to get exhausted.

In summation: Randy Couture by TKO on the ground somewhere in the 4th or 5th.

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that Lesnar completely mauls Couture and makes all this text completely wrong, but I’m not betting on it.

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