Though Randy Couture hasn’t signed quite signed the dotted line with the UFC (as far as we know), the hot story around the MMA world is his possible comeback to the UFC. The big match that’s been speculated about is a November fight in Portland, Oregon against Brock Lesnar.
But there’s another fight that was bandied about back and forth and that was a fourth match against Chuck Liddell in a legend vs. legend of sorts. Liddell holds the edge in against Couture in their three match-ups with two wins to Randy’s one.
Their first bout was held at UFC 43 and it was fight for the interim light heavyweight championship. Tito Ortiz refused to face Liddell for the money that was being offered, and rather than wait for Ortiz, the UFC put Liddell, who was the number one contender, into the octagon against Couture, the former heavyweight champion who was coming off consecutive losses to Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett. Liddell was the hottest star and the money was supposed to be in Tito and Chuck fighting for the undisputed title. Couture showed everyone how to beat Liddell in that fight. He got inside of Liddell’s comfort zone, forced the fight on him, and won by TKO. It was an amazing performance.
Their second bout was at UFC 52 and this time, Liddell took it to Couture. Though an inadvertent eye poke caused Couture to be defensive, Liddell dropped him and finished him in less than a round. Liddell was finally the light heavyweight champion. At UFC 57, Liddell again beat Couture in the second round by knockout, and Couture then announced his retirement. Couture would come back just over a year later to shock the MMA world again by going back up in weight and beating Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight title.
So does the MMA world need bout number four? I think a fourth match between the two can draw, but only if both guys are still at close to the top of their game. If Chuck Liddell defeats Rashad Evans this weekend and then can beat Forrest Griffin to win his light heavyweight title back, a match with Randy could do significant business again. Or likewise. If Couture is able to come back and get a few top notch wins under his belt, a fight with Liddell moving up to heavyweight could be tremendous. But one, or even both guys have to come through. This match isn’t going to work with both guys coming off losses, especially at their age. It’s not going to work unless there’s something at stake.
When Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali fought for a third time with nothing on the line, history says that it was a great fight, but also that it was barbaric, wasn’t necessary, and caused both guys serious damage. History looks at their first fight as the “Fight Of The Century” because it meant something. Ali was finally able to fight again and Frazier was the champion holding his belt. Every Randy vs. Chuck fight has meant something. A title has always been on the line. If they aren’t at the top of their class, a fourth fight simply isn’t necessary. I don’t think I’d want to see it. Not from former champions like them.