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At 46, doubts turn to jokes for Randy Couture

Couture will pick on someone his own age at UFC 109 in Mark Coleman


Justin M. Bowen

UFC light heavyweight Randy Couture works out in preparation for his main event fight in UFC 109 against Mark Coleman.

Randy Couture: Preparing for a Scrap

Randy Couture discusses his similarities with his UFC 109 opponent Mark Coleman, from their wrestling backgrounds to experienced age.

Randy Couture Workout

UFC light heavyweight Randy Couture works out in preparation for his main event fight in UFC 109 against Mark Coleman. Launch slideshow »

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Time after time, Randy Couture has shown that his age isn't enough to keep him from competing at the highest levels in mixed martial arts.

But that doesn't mean he doesn't still catch crap for it.

There will be nearly a century of life combined when Couture, 46, and Mark Coleman, 45, meet in the octagon Saturday in UFC 109 at Mandalay Bay.

It's a fact that hasn't been overlooked by Couture's younger teammates during his seven-week training camp.

"I'm sure one of the old-age factions are going to get behind us like Aleve or Depends," Couture said. "My buddies have been saying we should move it to Caesars and call it, 'Geezers at Caesars.' I've heard it all."

Jokes aside, the main event Saturday could be one the entire light heavyweight division tunes in to. The winner would take a big step toward earning a future title shot at current champ Lyoto Machida.

Couture (17-10-1) is coming off a unanimous-decision win over 32-year-old Brandon Vera in November.

Saturday will be Couture's third fight in less than six months. It's the quickest turnaround between fights in his career, and Couture says the short breaks have kept him sharp.

"It hasn't been negative, rolling one camp into the next," Couture said. "Technically, I feel really good. The ground game has really been built from one camp to the next. Physically, I feel good, too. Outside of a few stitches I needed from the (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira fight (at UFC 102), I feel great."

While it might seem like Couture is trying to fit in as many fights as possible before his age catches up to him, the fighter says that stringing together fights was never discussed when he inked a six-fight extension with the UFC in August.

Couture says the reason for the quick turnarounds has been the opportunities UFC President Dana White and the organization have been willing to offer — partially due to a recent high volume of injured fighters.

It just happened to work out that Coleman was available after having to pull out of his last scheduled fight with Tito Ortiz in November, because of a knee injury.

"I'm very grateful for this opportunity. It was devastating that I had to pull out against Tito," Coleman said. "That felt like an opportunity that you can't get back and I really felt like I lost out. I didn't foresee them being able to top that matchup for me.

"When I received the text message it was going to be Randy Couture, I was in shock for a little bit. I was out eating with my daughters and I had to take a couple seconds to regroup."

Coleman (16-9) is coming off a surprisingly dominant performance of his own over Stephan Bonnar at UFC 100 last July.

These two fighters know each other well, dating back to an amateur wrestling match at the finals of a mini tournament in the freestyle Olympic festivals in 1989.

Regardless of who comes out on top Saturday, Couture stepped up to say that he and Coleman would continue competing — a question he's become used to answering before every fight.

"Win or lose, Mark and I both have a lot to contribute to the sport," Couture said. "I don't think it's a make-or-break fight for us. We both have the competitive spirit in us. Every time Mark and I fight, they're going to judge us. 'Oh, he's slowing down. Maybe he should retire.' I've been dealing with that for six years."

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell recently received his second chance at reviving his fighting career. The 40-year-old legend will end what will be more than a year-long break from the octagon when he takes on Ortiz sometime this summer.

Liddell's future as a fighter had been in question, as White continually had lobbied for him to retire after losing four of his last five fights. However, Liddell remained adamant through the break that he would fight again, saying a fighter deserves the right to leave on his own terms.

Couture says he holds the same belief when it comes to retirement, and that it will be a decision only he can make at the right time.

"I think I'll always love it, regardless of how I physically hold up," Couture said. "But I've set standards for the training environment and in competition and when I feel like I'm not able to do that, I'm a pretty rational guy. I've got a lot of other things to do."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Also follow him on twitter: LVSunFighting.

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