46-year old UFC heavyweight Randy Couture feels that he’s almost at his “peak”, right before he steps in the cage against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102. During a recent interview with Cage Potato.com, “the Natural” talked strategy on what he needs to do to beat Nogueira.
“I’ve been working a lot on my jiu-jitsu,” Couture said. “I think that’s going to be a critical tool to have sharp for Nogueira. I’ve been working on my boxing and kickboxing, and I think that’s going to play a key role in this fight because of my wrestling background. As always I’m working a lot on strength and conditioning as well with Jake, our strength coach, and I’m feeling great.”
Couture also noted that he feels good about fighting close to his home state of Washington at UFC 102.
“I’m real excited to be back in Portland for the first UFC in the Pacific Northwest,” he admitted. “Fighting in front of all my family, and additionally, every friend that I’ve made in the Northwest over the last thirty years is coming out for this fight. It’s going to be a lot of fun, like old home week for me.”
Couture went on to talk about Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, and his recent decision to sign with Strikeforce. Fedor declined a contract with the UFC and signed with Strikeforce in July 2009.
“I understand it,” he said. “I don’t know ultimately that it was his decision. I think M-1 Global has him tied up in a contract for multiple fights, and they’re interested in promoting their show and their name, and that’s not possible in an exclusive contract with the UFC. So I wasn’t surprised to see him go with Strikeforce, who is willing to do the co-promotion and put M-1’s name out there.
“The end result is we get to see Fedor fight more in the United States, which is good. He’s definitely somebody who I like to watch fight, but I wouldn’t hold my breath that I’ll get to fight him. It is what it is.”
Couture’s words were not so kind for UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, whose actions at UFC 100 he called nothing short of embarrassing. After Lesnar won his bout with Frank Mir at the event, he went on to get into a bloodied Mir’s face and flipped off the crowd.
“For Brock to step up and act that way, in my opinion, set us back,” he stated. “For any first time viewers, and that was a huge pay-per-view event that probably had a lot of them, for them to see Brock act like they might have been thinking, ‘What’s this all about? These guys are knuckleheads.’ We all get associated with that kind of behavior, and I’m not too keen on that.”
You can bet Couture won’t be following in Lesnar’s footsteps if he beats Antonio Nogueira at UFC 102. But Couture admits he has a lot of work to do before he feels he can take home a win at the event.
“Obviously we’re both coming off losses and that always makes for a pretty exciting fight, both guys are really motivated to let it hang out and get back on a winning track. But I think putting it in those kinds of terms and framing it that way only results in putting more pressure on yourself. I’m doing this because I love to do it. I have nothing else to prove,” he stated. “You just have to take one fight at a time and now I’m focused on Nogueira.”
Couture faces Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira at UFC 102, live from Portland, Oregon’s Rose Garden on Saturday, August 29, 2009.