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UFC 68: Will Couture's head games work on Sylvia?

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ufc 68 randy couture tim sylvia
Randy Couture — the opportunistic veteran that he is inside cage — also learned a thing or two during his 43 years about how to get inside the heads of his opponents.

It's not brash and over the top vis-a-vis a guy like Nick Diaz. On the contrary, it's more subliminal and certainly more professional.

Since his return and upcoming fight with Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 was announced earlier this year, Couture has been very candid about the reasons he thinks he will be successful on March 3.

Of course, most of us have already heard that Couture sees holes in the champ's game and that he is not going to let him coast to another victory.

In no uncertain terms, Couture has promised to make Sylvia fight and earn a victory the hard way — something that "The Natural" and many others feel he hasn't done in his last two bouts with Andrei Arlovski and Jeff Monson.

It's an issue that has clearly irritated Sylvia. And, perhaps one that might make him press the action and force him to make mistakes come fight time.

Who knows.

Equally interesting — but not getting anywhere near the same amount of ink — is the pre-existing relationship between Couture and Sylvia.

Steve Seivert in his Brawl Sports blog over at the Houston Chronicle sheds a little more light on the subject.

Here's a snip:

... Couture believes "The Maine-iac" is struggling with having to face a guy who's counted as a close friend. That could give the hall-of-famer a mental edge heading into fight night. The two trained together several years ago when Couture lived in Oregon. Sylvia crashed at Couture's house and the two forged a bond that was strengthened during the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, when they appeared as guest coaches.

And a snip from Couture:

"We developed a strong friendship and as most fighters do, we have camaraderie amongst each other. That is probably causing more problems for Tim than it is for me. I'm used to fighting and competing against my friends. Tim doesn't have that wrestling background where that happens on a regular basis; so I'm sure that friendship is messing with his head a little bit right now."

Sylvia has mentioned in recent interviews that he considers Couture a "mentor." So, will that affect what happens inside the Octagon?

Again, who knows.

It's no surprise that Couture is pulling out all the stops to get a mental edge over Sylvia. That's because physically — on paper — Couture will be fighting an uphill battle for five rounds — if it even lasts that long.

I always wonder if the prefight talk ever affects the outcomes of certain fights. Unfortunately, it's probably a factor for which we will never truly know the answer.

I do know that all the craftiness, tricks and experience in the world can't erase Couture's last two knockouts to Chuck Liddell and spotty performances in the heavyweight division more than four years ago.

Without a doubt, he'll be in the shit (no pun intended) on March 3.

As Sylvia put it in a recent interview with

"He [Couture] doesn't have an easy road ahead of him. He is fighting the best heavyweight in the world. He is definitely in for a tough time."

And, if the fight doesn't go his way, Couture "hasn't ruled out dropping down to light heavy," according to Seivert.

Oh my ...