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Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga - UFC 74

By Robert Rousseau, ExtremeProSports.com
On April 21, 2007, something happened in Manchester, England that changed the whole future of MMA.

Gabriel Gonzaga knocked out Mirko Cro Cop.

And now the UFC is left with a match up slated for UFC 74 that they never dreamed of. So without further ado, let's check out what's on the docket.

Randy "The Natural" Couture versus Gabriel Gonzaga for the UFC Heavyweight Championship of the World

Gabriel Gonzaga holds an overall MMA record of 8-1 with three (T)KO's and five submission victories to his credit. Along with this, he's a big heavyweight (242 pounds) with outstanding jiu-jitsu/ submission skills. Further, the assumption that he had weak striking skills went right out the window once he knocked Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic out cold.

After all, he was looking pretty good on his feet before the big kick that ended things. Thus, it wasn't all about a lucky strike.

The only knock on Gonzaga would be his relative lack of experience in MMA. In addition, the fact that he lost to Fabricio Werdum back in 2003 via TKO may mean something.

Then again, that was a long time ago and it may mean nothing at all. In other words, this fight is going to tell us quite a bit about Gonzaga.

Randy "The Natural" Couture is one of the greatest mixed martial arts fighters of all time. Along with this, his 15-8 overall MMA record with six (T)KO's and two submission victories doesn't do his accomplishments justice.

Here's what does: MMA greats like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, Vitor Belfort, Jeremy Horn, Pedro Rizzo, Kevin Randleman, and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka have all fallen to him.

Couture is one of the greatest takedown artists of all-time. In addition, his ground and pound skills, cardio, and heart are unquestionably upper tier. Further, he's a better than average striker with very good defense on his feet and a chin to boot.

Of course, Couture's weaknesses are his age and size (again, he's a small heavyweight). In addition, he's very good at submission defense but perhaps below the MMA average when it comes to submission skills of his own (though he's improved on that front- just ask Mike Van Arsdale).

Gonzaga-Couture Predictions

Does anyone really know what to expect from Gonzaga? That's the problem with predictions in this one. We know he's got excellent submission skills; we also know that he is a dangerous striker. But what about when things really get tough against an elite competitor?

Thus, this one is a tough call.

Couture has had difficulty with bigger fighters during his career and Gonzaga fits that bill (which is likely why Couture indicated that Gonzaga is a tougher match up for him than Cro Cop would have been). That said, this is Randy Couture.

Figure that Couture will bring this one to the ground. Then it will be a matter of Gonzaga's size and submission skills versus Couture's ground control. Who wins?

Good question. Looking forward to finding out.

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