It seems like we have another mini-MMA controversy brewing. Randy Couture has hinted at his own retirement from the sport of MMA, claiming his desire to fight 2 of the best LHW's in MMA. So, we've already seen some chatter about this, including a ridiculous article (on another site) about how Joe Silva is protecting Machida after a 2 fight losing streak.
So, here is my take on the whole situation. First off, the UFC has never "protected" Lyoto. He whooped ass against some of the toughest competition on his way to the belt. Next,if he was truly protected, Dana would have given him the rematch he rightly deserved for a very contentious decision against Rampage. But he has chosen to move on, because he sees those dollar bills in his eyes while thinking of promoting Rampage as the next title contender.
On to the issue of Couture vs Machida
This is a complicated match up. On Randy's side, and with respect, there are guys ahead of him who deserve a shot at Lyoto. On the other hand, he has legend status and has gotten a lot of what he's asked for in the past, including a HW title shot straight out of retirement. If Randy takes this fight and wins, he goes out with a bang, knowing he beat one of the best LHW's in the world. If he loses, he can say he lost to one of the best LHW's in the world, and went out fighting.
The other side of this equation relates not just to Machida, but to the long term viability of the UFC's 205lb division. Lyoto is a draw. He's not as big a draw as Rampage or maybe even Randy, but he is a draw, as much for his record (16-2 is still amazing) as for his style. Clearly, I am a huge Machida fan, but I can be objective: this is MMA. Anyone can lose at anytime. As much as I realistically see the end result of this match being Randy unconscious on the canvas, I know that anything is possible.
So, let's examine the flip side: Lyoto wins, not really a huge W in terms of title implications. He beats a legend, which is noble, but that's really all it is. Lyoto loses, his stock falls massively. He loses to a guy who is now retired. This is the real issue. Randy goes out on a high note, but the UFC loses one of the top 4 (top 2, IMO), LHW's in terms of future of the division. Where do things go from there?
The final say:
So, in weighing all this up, I think it's an interesting matchup. There is drama, as we have a legend fighting a recent former champ. There are risks at stake. And even from a stylistic viewpoint, it is a very intriguing match.
Do I believe Randy deserves a fight against Lyoto? No, I don't. Not based on this year's fights. Does he deserve the fight based on the achievements of his career? Probably.
But, here's an important thing to consider: he's currently filming the Expendables 2, and has gone on record saying he will be busy with this for another year. So, even if this fight ever happened, it would not likely be until late 2011. Does Randy really want this fight? Or is he using the name and hype associated with this fight to forge a comeback and remain relevant for those 12 months?
Opinions and feedback are welcome Maniacs! Happy Hump day!