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Sports

August 19, 2007

Age vs. rage: Couture in for a long night

Unlike the last few UFC events, where fights either went on far too long (Sean Sherk vs. Hermes Franca) or were shorter than they deserved to be (Anderson Silva vs. Nate Marquardt), most of the fights on the card for UFC74 should be compelling matchups.



In the show's main event, 44-year-old Randy Couture (15-8, 14-8 UFC) will take on Gabriel Gonzaga (8-1, 4-0 UFC), who is 16 years his junior.



Gonzaga has ripped through the heavyweight competition placed before him, most famously knocking the fearsome Mirko Cro Cop out cold with a vicious head kick at UFC 70 back in April.



Couture, meanwhile, came out of retirement to beat Tim Sylvia by unanimous decision for the UFC heavyweight title. His ability to outlast the gargantuan Sylvia was not a surprise, even at his age. Couture is a world-renowned wrestler (two-time NCAA runner-up at Oklahoma State) and it's nearly impossible to be in worse shape than the sleep-inducing Sylvia.



Gonzaga, however, is a different type of animal. He attacks with ferocity rather than Sylvia's trademark lie-there-and-don't-let-them-hit-me style. Couture, whose better days are behind him, may not be prepared for the dizzying array of strikes with which he will be met.



I like Gonzaga here because he'll be swinging for the fences from the opening bell, and while Couture isn't going to underestimate him like Cro Cop did, age might simply catch up to him. Gonzaga will win the title by knockout in the third round.



Patrick Cote (11-4, 1-4 UFC) vs. Kendall Grove (10-3, 3-0 UFC) will open the show. Both are Ultimate Fighter alums, and the notoriety that both gained from their long runs on the show.



Grove will come away with his fourth UFC win. While Cote can throw a heavy hand, Grove, at 6-foot-6, has a seven-inch height advantage that should neutralize Cote's technically superior standup game. Grove is a self-professed lover of the stand-and-trade approach, and while he's not as dangerous a striker as the Quebec native, he has the size to dictate the flow of the fight, which should go all three rounds. Kendall Grove wins by decision.



Joe Stevenson (32-7, 4-1 UFC) is taking on Kurt Pellegrino (16-2, 2-1 UFC). Stevenson's one loss came by unanimous decision more than a year ago, and the three fights since have been won by doctor's stoppage and a pair of wins via guillotine choke.



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