Part of the thrill of that win was Couture defying the critics who said he was too old, at 39, to get it done. Well, that was six years ago. Since then, Couture lost the rematch and the rubber match to Liddell. He's decisioned a clearly-cooked Tim Sylvia and stopped a frequently-disappointing Gabriel Gonzaga. Most recently, he looked severely outmatched against the monstrous Lesnar. That we are not in Couture's prime is beyond question, but we're not even at 2003 levels. Nogueira, meanwhile, was stopped cold by Mir in his last fight nine months ago. Lesnar-Mir was the big show; Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez are the next in line; I can't help but think that this is the last real hurrah for the two legends we'll see Saturday night.
Still, I expect a good fight; neither man is lacking for toughness. It could be a great one on the ground, with Big Nog's jiu jitsu against Randy's wrestling. Sadly for Dana White's dreams of dancing dollar signs, I think Noguiera pulls it out in three hard-fought rounds.
On the undercard, there are a few fights worth paying attention to. Thiago Silva doesn't get an easy out for his first fight since Lyoto Machida blemished his record in January. Keith Jardine always shows up for the fight, but Silva's ground-and-pound will likely be too much for the Dean of Mean. Silva will be anxious to prove he's worthy of a rematch against Machida; next time, for the title.
Chris Leben's back for his first UFC fight in almost a year. He's kept busy in that time, and not in a good way, earning the delightful triple crown of a DUI arrest, a probation violation, and a nine-month suspension for banned substances. He's got Jake Rosholt, who's coming off a quick loss to Dan Miller. Leben's got talent and an impressive result here would go a long way towards starting to prove he's got his act together.