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Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thoughts on Nogueira/Couture Fight; Oregon Athletic Commission's Doctors
by Ivan Trembow

Last night's fight between two of MMA's all-time greats, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Randy Couture, a fight which Nogueira won via a one-sided unanimous judges' decision, was a wildly exciting, hard-fought, gutsy fight. At the same time, it was sad to see just how far both fighters have fallen.

When Couture got knocked down in previous fights, it was against fighters with a lot of power (Chuck Liddell, Brock Lesnar). In this fight, he was repeatedly knocked down and almost out, against a man who has never been known to have strong punching power (Nogueira certainly has strong punching technique, but not strong punching power).

As for Nogueira, the lengendary chin that was missing in the Frank Mir fight was back in the Couture fight, but that was about it. In his previous couple of fights and also in the Couture fight, Nogueira’s reflexes were gone, his defense was gone, his head movement was gone, and he was moving like he was underwater. Just because he looked much better than Couture doesn't mean that he looked good in the fight.

In the Couture fight, even Nogueira's legendary submission-finishing ability was missing against an opponent who was semi-conscious at the time of the Round 1 submission attempt (and someone like Nogueira losing their submission-finishing ability would be the equivalent of a knockout artist losing their power). The drastically diminished reflexes and movement are far more troubling, though.

So, for me, while it was a very exciting fight to watch, it was also sad to watch.

On another note, there seemed to be repeated instances of questionable judgment by the doctors of Oregon’s athletic commission last night.

The doctors allowed Ed Herman to continue on to Round 2 even though he clearly had a badly injured knee, only for Herman to predictably suffer an even worse knee injury seconds into Round 2.

That wasn’t the only case of a fighter being sent out for another round who might not have been medically fit to continue. From Bryan Alvarez’ play-by-play of the Mike Russow vs. Justin McCully fight on f4wonline.com: "So the second round was about to start and as McCully was getting out of his chair he stumbled. They stopped the clock between rounds and brought the doctor into the ring and he looked at McCully, asked some questions, and then shook his head no. The fans started booing. So the doctor pushed him sideways and McCully couldn’t keep his base. Doctor did it again, same thing. More booing. And they booed and booed and the next thing you know, they took the stools out of the ring and THE FIGHT CONTINUED. Everyone in press row was wondering what the hell this was all about."

The judgment of the Oregon athletic commission’s doctors looks even worse as a result of this line in Sherdog's post-fight press conference recap: "[UFC president Dana] White said nobody went to the hospital when asked if Tim Hague was OK following his loss to Todd Duffee."

I'm assuming that White meant nobody in the Hague-Duffee fight went to the hospital, because it couldn’t possibly be the case that nobody on the entire card went to the hospital (especially given that several fighters were knocked out cold, an unconscious Chris Leben had a seizure in the cage, etc.). If it's accurate that the Oregon athletic commission's doctors didn't send Hague to the hospital for testing after his knockout loss, that is a travesty.

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