Top 10 Randy Couture Fights

Anytime A&E does a Biography special on your life, you know that you've made it big time. Add in an autobiography, the UFC Hall of Fame, and championship belts in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions and voila, you have Randy "The Natural" Couture.

In other words, there certainly have been enough fights to choose from when determining Couture's top 10 fights of all time.

Still, here are the criteria. The fight and its significance to Randy Couture. 2. The level of competition. In other words, highly competitive fights will be deemed more worthy than blowouts.

Of course, if one of these two criteria was over the top in a particular bout that one might move forward on the list over another where both criteria were more relevant but neither were over the top.

Honorable Mention: Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell III

Event: UFC 57

Result: Liddell wins via KO in round two.

The Skinny: The rubber match. Most believed that Liddell would win coming in. Some believed, however, that Couture would once again prove that he should never be counted out.

Even Randy Couture is sometimes unable to win as the underdog, though.

Liddell thwarted Couture's takedown attempts and even got up from one in the first round. In the second, a lightning- fast Liddell right hand dropped The Natural and allowed the Iceman to retain the belt. Afterwards, Couture made a significant announcement.

He retired. Of course, we all know that the whole retirement thing was short lived. This was a loss and it wasn't right after TUF 1, so it only makes honorable mention on this list. On Liddell's list?

Well that would be a different story.

10. Randy Couture vs. Maurice Smith

Event: UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan 1

Result: Couture wins via decision.

The Skinny: Couture basically ground and pounded his way to a 21 minute decision victory in this one. To be frank, it ended up being one of those striker versus grappler match ups where the grappler dominated. Still, Couture won his first heavyweight title in the fight, which is why it makes the list.

9. Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Event: UFC 74

Result: Couture wins via TKO in round three.

The Skinny: Gabriel Gonzaga was young. Gabriel Gonzaga was athletic. Gabriel Gonzaga was also very big and had stellar jiu jitsu.

In other words, he was a lot like Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez, two fighters whose size had eventually worn Couture down, forcing him to drop to the light heavyweight division in the first place. Besides, Gonzaga had just knocked Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic out with his own specialty.

A high kick.

So most thought that Gonzaga was the antidote to Couture's poison. People were thinking that he would finally put Couture into a real retirement. Instead what happened was Couture beat Gonzaga up in the clinch and took him down on multiple occasions. Eventually, Gonzaga broke down near the cage wall and the referee had no choice but to stop things under Couture's ground and pound onslaught.

Oh yeah, and during the fight Couture sustained a broken arm. Didn't stop him, though.

8. Randy Couture vs. Pedro Rizzo II

Event: UFC 34

Result: Couture wins via TKO in round three.

The Skinny: Though their first fight had ended in a controversial decision victory for Couture, the second fight?one that many though Rizzo would win, surprise, surprise?was dominated by Couture. His ground and pound was spot on all fight and during the third stanza, he literally dragged Rizzo into the cage wall and unleashed a furious assault that ended with the referee stepping in.

Couture had once again proven that to count him out was foolish.

7. Randy Couture vs. Kevin Randleman

Event: UFC 28

Result: Couture wins via TKO in round three.

The Skinny: Want the skinny? Well, here it is. Many believed that Randleman was the better and more explosive wrestler coming into this match up. In fact, it was the first time that Couture had really ever been pitted against someone with a similar background to his.

Guess what, the underdog won out again.

In the end, Couture got the takedowns he needed and outdid Randleman at almost every turn. Simply put, he was the better fighter that night. A big win.

6. Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell II

Event: UFC 52

Result: Chuck Liddell wins via KO in round one.

The Skinny: This fight had huge ramifications. First, it was a fight between the two TUF 1 coaches, something that many seem to forget about. Considering how TUF 1 had turned out?let's face it, the Stephan Bonnar- Forrest Griffin fight did a lot toward bringing the sport to the mainstream?these two couldn't have been more popular. Many believed that Couture would do what he did in their first fight?simply take Liddell down at will and ground and pound him until the referee pulled him off.

Not to be.

First, Couture seemed pretty willing to stay on his feet with the Iceman in this one, which history has proven is never a good idea. Further, even when he did go for a takedown, Liddell stymied him easily. Then came a big right hand.

A few strikes later and that was all she wrote. Just like that Couture was handed his only knockout loss on the biggest stage of his career and many were left realizing something.

Randy Couture was human.

This one makes the list because of the immense stage after TUF 1.

5. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort I

Event: UFC 15

Result: Couture wins via TKO in round one.

The Skinny: Vitor Belfort had been dominant coming into his UFC 15 match up with Couture. Actually, dominant didn't even cover it. How about this?

He had defeated his four previous opponents?Scott Ferrozo, Tank Abbott, Tra Telligman, and Jon Hess? in only three minutes and four seconds total.

Along with this, he threw punches with speed and power that simply hadn't been witnessed in the Octagon to date. What's more, he was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, which of course made him look pretty unbeatable at the time.

Not so after he fought Couture, however.

Surprisingly, Couture defeated Belfort not with the patented ground and pound that many expected him to utilize, but rather with a devastating clinch game. He basically mauled Belfort inside.

It was a glimpse of things to come when it came to the clinch. Further, it was another huge upset victory; the first of his MMA career, in fact.

4. Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell I

Event: UFC 43

Result: Couture wins via TKO in round three

The Skinny: There's a repeating theme throughout Randy Couture's career. Basically, he looks very beatable for two or three fights?in this case two consecutive against Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez?and then suddenly does something that no one believes he's capable of. Such was the case when he dropped down to the light heavyweight division to take on Chuck Liddell, a man that would finally get his title shot against Tito Ortiz if he won.

But he didn't win. That whole foregone conclusion thing just didn't pan out.

Couture simply took Liddell down at will during the fight and tired him out. Toward the end of the battle, in fact, he began to win the stand up encounters as well. And eventually, with Couture executing his patented ground and pound, the referee stopped the fight in his favor against one of the better MMA fighters of all time.

A huge win for The Natural.

3. Randy Couture vs. Tito Ortiz

Event: UFC 44

Result: Couture wins via unanimous decision.

The Skinny: Tito Ortiz just isn't as popular and well- thought of as he used to be. That's what happens when you're the lovable bad guy wearing disrespectful tee shirts making fun of your opponents after defeating them.

When you fall off your horse a little bit, the masses begin to pounce.

Still, Ortiz was one of the better fighters to ever grace the Octagon in his prime and is still quite good today. However, back at UFC 44 he was much more than that. Simply put, Ortiz was the face of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He was widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, pound for pound fighters in the game. Ortiz was also the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.

Not after this bout, though.

In the end, when two fighters want to execute ground and pound on one another. . . Well, the guy who has the better takedowns and wrestling is going to win. There is no ground and pound without being on top.

One thing Randy Couture does better than anybody ever has in the light heavyweight division is wrestle. Thus, The Natural found himself on top of the Huntington Beach Bad Boy raining down ground and pound for the majority of this fight, and even tapped his shorts playfully as the fight ended with Ortiz going for a leglock to no avail.

Once again Couture had come through when few thought he could.

2. Randy Couture vs. Pedro Rizzo 1

Event: UFC 31

Result: Couture wins via unanimous decision.

The Skinny: One of the better fights of all time. The first round saw Couture dominate Rizzo from a ground and pound angle. In fact, he nearly stopped him. In the second, Rizzo unleashed a furious leg kick assault on Couture that left him walking funny for weeks afterward and nearly stopped him. The next three rounds were a testament to heart, as it was hard to believe that either was fighter was able to finish the five round war.

But Couture was awarded a controversial victory when all was said and done.

1. Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia

Event: UFC 68

Result: Couture wins via unanimous decision

The Skinny: What do you do when you find out that you just can't defeat a UFC Light Heavyweight Champion with awesome takedown defense and ridiculous power? How about take on a heavyweight champion that's much bigger and fights similarly.

Huh?

Yup, that's what The Natural decided to do when he jumped in the cage with then UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 in Ohio. The place was rocking.

And speaking of rocking, Couture came out and immediately rocked Sylvia with a right hand to start things off. Though The Natural was unable to stop the fight after taking his opponent's back afterward, it didn't matter.

From there forth, he continually took Sylvia down over the course of five rounds and pounded away at him. When it was all said and done, Sylvia hadn't even won a round.

This one falls in at number one on the list because of the gravity of the fight, Couture's stellar performance, and the ridiculousness of it all. You just don't go up in weight and take the championship belt after getting beaten by a lighter champion, particularly at the age of 43.

Or do you? After all, that's the allure of Randy Couture. You're never really sure exactly what he is capable of.

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