Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - The first man in UFC history to win the heavyweight championship in his fourth fight was Randy Couture. Tonight, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Couture was forced to make room in the history books for the second man to achieve the monumental feat – Brock Lesnar, who stopped Couture in the second round of the UFC 91 main event to take the belt and begin a new era in the UFC heavyweight division.
By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, November 15 – The first man in UFC history to win the heavyweight championship in his fourth fight was Randy Couture. Tonight, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Couture was forced to make room in the history books for the second man to achieve the monumental feat – Brock Lesnar, who stopped Couture in the second round to take the belt and begin a new era in the UFC heavyweight division.
“I can’t believe it,” said Lesnar I want to thank (UFC President) Dana (White), the UFC, and especially Randy Couture. It takes a lot of balls to come back after a year off and fight a young buck like me.”
Couture – a five-time UFC champion and a member of the organization’s Hall of Fame -has made a career of overcoming the odds, and though he had his moments in the scheduled five rounder, in the end, the power and size of the 6-3 1/2, 265 pounder was too much for the 220-pound Couture to overcome, especially at 45. But Couture, fighting for the first time since August of 2007, didn’t blame ring rust or age for the loss. Instead, all praise went to the new king.
“Those were some big hamhocks coming at me,” laughed Couture after the fight. “He’s a big guy and he caught me with a big shot.”
With the crowd chanting ‘Randy, Randy’, the bell rang for what was dubbed “the biggest fight in UFC history.” Couture scored with a quick right hand and Lesnar attempted a couple of knees before tying the champion up against the fence, trying to wear Couture down with his 265 pounds. After a brief stalemate, the two separated and circled before Lesnar shot in for a takedown. Couture fought it off , but wound up pinned against the fence briefly before Lesnar finally finished the takedown and put Couture on his back. But just as soon as he was down, Couture reversed position and the crowd erupted. Lesnar quickly regained control though and again tried to use his size to exhaust Couture. With under a minute left, Couture made his move and got back to his feet. The two traded knees and Couture looked for the takedown, but the bell intervened.
The second began with Couture landing a couple of quick punches, which were answered by a right from Lesnar that briefly wobbled the champion. The two reconvened at the fence, and both fighters landed with hard shots as they separated. The ensuing exchange saw Lesnar get cut over the right eye, but as Couture moved in, the fighters locked up at the fence again. After they broke, a right hand behind the ear dropped Couture, and Lesnar immediately pounced, landing a series of hammerfists to the head that forced referee Mario Yamasaki to halt the bout at 3:07 of the second round.
“I may come off like a cocky SOB, but I just believe in hard work,” said the new champ, who improves to 3-1. Couture, who fell to 16-9, was non-committal about his future in the Octagon.
“We’ll let things settle down. I still feel like I’m getting better as a fighter, and we’ll see what happens.”