Randy Couture says hes ready for younger, bigger Brock Lesnar at UFC 91

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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LAS VEGAS - The strategy for UFC heavyweight champion Randy (The Natural) Couture appears simple Saturday night at UFC 91 - put Brock Lesnar where he hasn't been before.
At six foot three, the bulky Lesnar has surprising speed and agility for a man his size. As a former NCAA wrestling champion, he knows how to take down and control opponents. And his striking is improving. The one-time former pro wrestling star literally bowled over Heath Herring with an overhand right last time out.
But the 31-year-old Lesnar has only had three mixed martial arts fights (including two in the UFC). He fell victim to a leg submission in a UFC debut loss to former heavyweight champion Frank Mir and had the upper hand from the get-go in his decision win over Herring.
Lesnar has shown great raw skill, but not been tested in certain areas in his young MMA career. As the 45-year-old Couture notes, he has yet to be in a "firefight."
"I think I have the ability to put him in a whole bunch of places," Couture said Wednesday after working up a sweat in a media workout. "Punch him in the face, kick him in his legs, kick him in his body. Take him down, put him on his back and see how he deals with it."
"Randy Couture will test him," added Couture trainer Shawn Tompkins, a native of London, Ont., who now calls Las Vegas home. "He'll hurt him, he'll hit him and he won't be there when Brock wants to hit him."
Still Couture (16-8) will be giving up 14 years and probably 50 pounds when the two meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in what the UFC expects will be its most successful pay-per-view ever,
And the 6-2 Couture has not only fought twice since losing to Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell at UFC 57 in February 2006, coming out of retirement to upset heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 in March 2007 and then stopping Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 in August 2007.
Couture stepped away again after that, soured by a contract dispute with the UFC. The two sides eventually made up, with Couture opting to return to the fold rather than watch the courts eat up what few years he had left to fight at an elite level.
Both camps have been diplomatic in the leadup to this fight. The normally brash Lesnar was on his best behaviour Wednesday, although he did manage a shot at Couture.
"By the looks of it, to me, Randy looks like he took a year off," Lesnar sniped. "But we're not underestimating Randy Couture. Not at all. He's a pioneer, he's the man. He's got something I dearly want, pretty bad."
Asked to elaborate on his take on Couture's shape, Lesnar suggested comparing a photo of Couture in action against Gonzaga and today.
"I think it's two different Randys. But maybe it's not. I guess we'll soon find out."
"How would he know," snapped Couture when advised of the comment. "Where's he seen me? But that's a typical statement. That's fine. We'll find out Saturday night."
Leading up to the fight, there has been a lot of talk of respect from both camps. But as the bout nears, the lines are becoming a little more frayed.
"We respect him, we respect that he's big, we respect that he's athletic. But we don't respect the fact that he's getting a (title) shot," said Tompkins. "He's not at this level yet. He doesn't deserve to be here. Maybe one day he will, but not today."
Said Lesnar: "I respect Randy and I like Randy, you know, but Saturday night I don't have any respect for him, nor do I like him. It just has to be that way. This is business and he's got something I want. That's the bottom line."
Couture is also not averse to pushing a few Lesnar buttons.
"I think in a lot of ways that brash kind of bravado is covering up a little of the insecurities that he's carrying into this fight because he knows he doesn't have all the skills that he needs."

Organizations: NCAA, Still Couture

Geographic location: LAS VEGAS, London, Ont.

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