Joe Silva, the architect of UFC fight cards, has come up with yet another main event fight that has fans guessing. Some are picking the youth and striking of Brandon Vera. Some are going with the experience and durability of Randy Couture. Many are just scratching their heads trying to figure out what's going to happen. For the record, I happen to fall into the latter category.
How can you not pick Vera to win this fight? He's 14 years younger than his counterpart. His striking is top-shelf. He has a strong wrestling background. He's a lock, right? Not exactly.
Randy Couture is a 7-time UFC champion in two divisions. He's a Hall of Famer. This guy has been in the cage with the best of the best over the course of his career and has continued to adapt his game with the changing times while maintaining world-class conditioning at the age of 46. Couture is dangerous in the clinch and his dirty boxing is among the elite. If he can pin Vera to the cage, he can definitely score. How can you not pick Couture to win this fight? He has five years and 11 fights more experience than Vera. His striking, while not as technical or as flashy as Vera's, is underrated and very sound. His wrestling background is stronger than strong, a 3-time NCAA Division I All-American. As my colleague E. Spencer Kyte pointed out so eloquently this week, you can't under-estimate the importance of a great camp, and this is where Couture is at a clear advantage. He must be a lock to win this fight. Not so fast...
Before losing to Tim Sylvia, Vera was 8-0 and one of the sport's true upcoming superstars. He had just demolished Frank Mir in about a minute and appeared to be on his way to his goal of winning the UFC heavyweight title before dropping two in a row then deciding to move down to light-heavyweight where he's now won 3 of 4. His most recent win, a unanimous decision over Krzysztof Soszynski, was another step in the right direction. At 6 feet, 3 inches tall he'll use his length and range to keep his distance and wait for an opening. Never short on confidence, "The Truth" will look to land jabs that can lead to big bombs but he understands that he's facing a master tactician so he'll try to avoid mistakes that could end his night early. Vera is far from one-dimensional though, his ground game is under rated because of his striking prowess. In his 3 losses, he's only been finished once, a TKO loss at the hands of Fabricio Werdum at UFC 85.
All of that might be too much for Couture but then again, maybe it won't.