Like health care reform, most of the coverage surrounding UFC 109 is fixated on the plight of the senior citizen: Randy Couture is 46, Mark Coleman is 45, and the two combined have roughly 27 years of prizefighting experience accrued. That kind of time punched in tends to stir a lot of emotion in audiences -- and not all of it positive.
In having occupied MMA for over a decade, both Couture and Coleman have far exceeded the typical life expectancy for a combat sports athlete, a job that frequently turns young men old and old men into dust. Couture put on a brave front against the monstrous Brock Lesnar as late as 2008; Coleman defied expectations to decision Stephan Bonnar last summer. Fans seem to delight in that perseverance while simultaneously resenting their prolonged status as leading attractions. (Couture in particular lost some steam in a bout with Brandon Vera, which was more self-defense demonstration than fight.)
If fan enthusiasm is dull for Saturday’s card, it might be blamed on mis-measured expectations: standards that apply to 25-year-olds should not be heaped on men nearing 50 who have fought as frequently as some athletes have sparred. If you expect to watch Couture/Coleman and be dazzled by radical, hyper attacks, you will quickly grow disappointed; if you accept that two veterans will engage in a game where nasty tricks and a takedown or two can alter the outcome, then you’ll probably walk away satisfied.
What: UFC 109: Relentless, an 11-bout card from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
When: Saturday, Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. ET, with a live undercard broadcast on Spike at 9 p.m. ET.
Why You Should Care: Because this is likely the last time the winner of Couture/Coleman will sniff a title shot, putting an effective end to an era; because Nate Marquardt is looking more and more like a problem for Anderson Silva in a rematch, and he needs a violent win over Chael Sonnen to seal it; because Frank Trigg, for all his deflated bravado, can’t put on a boring fight; and because Rolles Gracie will be looking for his family’s first win the UFC in nearly fifteen years.
Fight of the Night: Melvin Guillard vs. Ronys Torres: spaz-hands vs. a six-shooting submission game.
Hype Quote of the Show: “It’s quite ironic that all the media comes on and talks about how great [Anderson Silva] is for reasons that are completely un-understandable to me…all of us fighters are in the back going, ‘jeez, they’re out there massaging his ego.’ Anderson hates them so much, he pretends he can’t understand them." -- Chael Sonnen, getting title fight hype started prematurely, to MMAWeekly.com.