Saturday night at UFC 129, in front of the largest audience he’s ever fought in front of, Randy Couture stepped into the cage to face Lyoto Machida. This would be the last time we see Randy face off with someone inside the fabled Octagon. He’d go out on his shield, as a warrior should.
Randy Couture faced off with Lyoto Machida, a 47 year old man, trying once again to slay a “Dragon.” This time however, the legend was slayed. The two fighters came down to the cage, to a packed house. There were a reported 55,000 fans in the Rogers Center. Randy Couture certainly doesn’t wear 47 years the way most people do. He looked good, fit and physical as always. Machida looked good as well. As the bell rang to open the fight, somehow a sea of humanity became one.
Lyoto who seemed prepared to accept his fate as the man who would retire Randy Couture. Randy absolutely pressed the action in the first round, but he was unable to catch Lyoto with anything, and when Machida would land, he’d be long gone before a Couture counter could be effective. Randy tried to cut the cage off, but Machida proved to be far too evasive for Couture to find.
As the first round came towards its end, Randy did push Lyoto against the fence, but he was rebuked and randy ate a body kick for his efforts. When Randy tried a single leg, he was evaded and met with a knee to the body. It was a frustrating first round for Couture, but he didn’t look out of the fight at that point.
The second round started with both fighters circled, but Machida began to press the action and landed with combos against Couture. It was clear Lyoto had become much more comfortable, and he was bringing the offense fast and furious. As the two stood faced off, Lyoto Machida fired an Anderson Silva-esque front kick and landed flush and sent Randy Couture crashing to the mat. The referee jumped in and called a stop to the action. It was truly a highlight reel worthy knockout.
For Lyoto Machida, it’s a welcome back into the upper echelon of the UFC Light Heavyweight Division. He’s back, looked great and still poses a very dangerous threat to the best of the best at 205. I think his next fight could be along the lines of a Ryan Bader/Vladdy Matyushenko, but he’s certainly back on the map.
In the moments after the KO, the fans began chanting Randy in unison. A battle worn former champion made his way to his feet, and accepted the crowd’s support and announced, minus a tooth, that he is in fact retired from MMA. I believe him this time and it was a hell of a way for a legend to go out on his terms.