Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Croatian Sensation Takes On Captain America

By Robert Rousseau

"Not bad for an old man."

Those were the words that Randy "The Natural" Couture spoke after once again defying logic at the age of 43 and defeating Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. In sum, Couture nailed Sylvia with an overhand right that floored him early in the first round and never looked back from there. Even more amazing than the fact that he was able to take his 6-foot-8 inch adversary down time and time again was that Couture dominated the fight on his feet as well.

Hard to imagine that any judge even gave Sylvia a round.

Meanwhile, former PRIDE fighter and Open Weight Grand Prix Tournament Champion Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic is slated to take on Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70 in England. The winner of this scheduled April 21, 2007 encounter will then likely take on Randy "The Natural" Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Gonzaga is no joke. He's a fighter that's accumulated at 7-1 MMA record with two (T)KO's and five submission victories to his credit. Along with that, he's an outstanding submission fighter with five straight victories, including three straight in the UFC.

Of course, he's up against Cro Cop, a competitor with a 22-4-2 overall MMA record. So unless something strange happens- and we're talking real strange- Cro Cop should win this bout.

Which of course would set up a match between two MMA legends.

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic vs. Randy "The Natural" Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship

It's hard to bet against Randy Couture. Why? Simply because every time the masses do, he proves them wrong. However, a match against Mirko Cro Cop would legitimately represent the worst situation he's ever been up against in his entire MMA career. Not because he's getting older, either. If this fight happens, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic will be the greatest fighter that Randy Couture has ever locked horns with.

Thus, a win under such circumstances might just compel Couture from legendary stature to mythical.

What Randy Couture must do in order to defeat Mirko Cro Cop

Okay, remember those situations where Couture actually beat the striker at his own game? He did it to Chuck Liddell in their first epic encounter; he did it against Tim Sylvia on March 3rd.

There is no way he does it against Mirko Cro Cop.

Thus, in order to win, Couture must get this fight to the ground. Further, he must be on top, because even if Couture's submission skills have gotten better with age, he is not about to submit Cro Cop from the bottom. Couture only boasts two true submission victories in his entire career, and neither happened from his own guard.

So, in other words, Couture is going to have to take Cro Cop down if he wants to improve on that 15-8 record of his. Further, if Fedor Emelianenko couldn't submit Cro Cop while on top, Couture probably isn't going to either.

Unfortunately, that means ground and pounding his way to one of two types of victories. Either Couture wins via decision or via a cut caused by accumulated ground strikes.

However, if Couture stands for any length of time with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, he'll almost certainly be knocked out. Thus, he'll have to continually take Filipovic down, round after round, and keep him there.

As good at takedowns as Couture is-and he's one of the best of all time-that still represents a tall order.

First, Cro Cop has some of the best takedown defense in the business. He's thwarted Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman, Hidehiko Yoshida, and Kevin Randleman on that front in his past. In fact, the reality is that Cro Cop has the kind of takedown defense that Chuck Liddell does.

But with a bigger and stronger frame.

So, can Couture take Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic down repeatedly and ground and pound his way to a victory? Logic says no. Further, logic dictates that this is a terrible match up for him, going against some of the best takedown defense and striking in the heavyweight division ( including the greatest high kick in MMA history ). Some are actually worried about Couture being hurt badly in this fight.

That said, Randy Couture is one of the best this sport has ever seen. If anyone can figure out how to do the unthinkable, it's him.

If this one goes off, it will be one of the most hyped fights in MMA history. Cro Cop is likely to win. That said, if Couture were to somehow come out on top, the victory would put him on a pedestal that perhaps no MMA fighter has ever achieved.


Of course, that just speaks to how difficult beating Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic will be.


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