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When 45-year-old UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture (16-8 MMA, 13-5
UFC) steps into the cage on Saturday night against Brock Lesnar at "UFC
91: Couture vs. Lesnar," it will be the first action for "The Natural"
in nearly 15 months.Couture has faced layoffs of over a year
twice before in his illustrious career -- and won his return fight both
times. In a recent UFC 91 media conference call, Couture said to expect
the same this time around."Everybody asks about ring rust and
all that stuff," Couture said. "I don't think it's the same for a mixed
martial artist as it is for boxing. Sparring in the gym -- the training
we do -- it's just about as real as the fights. So I'm not worried
about that at all."As the head of Xtreme Couture, one of the
biggest and most highly respected training camps in MMA, Couture
believes his daily routines have kept him in fight-ready shape."I've
got a great camp," Couture said. "I've been very active with all the
guys, Forrest (Griffin) and a number of the other athletes that train
at Xtreme Couture. I've never been one to sit around. I like to train.
I like to be in the gym. They're kind of my family."I fought every week that I was out. I may not have had a fight in a cage, but I've got a cage right here in my gym."Seemingly
defying the odds by continuing to put on excellent performances despite
his advanced age, Couture has been doubted in many of his recent bouts.
The heavyweight champion insisted his age and experience is an asset,
not a liability."I definitely think that experience and having
been in a lot of those situations is an asset and is something to rely
on," Couture said. "It doesn't matter what combative sport you're
involved in. They are sports of experience. I've been in a lot of
different situations, and those all count."Couture will
certainly be looking to rely on his cage savvy in Saturday night's main
event. The massive Lesnar will enjoy a hefty size advantage."Obviously
with a guy Brock's size and with his athletic ability and mobility,
those are things you certainly consider when training and formulating a
gameplan to face that opponent," Couture said. "I don't believe I've
fought anybody Brock's size other than Tim (Sylvia). (Gabriel) Gonzaga
is a little bit smaller."I fought a couple of big guys back in
the day, but I don't think any of them were as big as Brock either.
(But) both of my recent fights have been against guys that were pretty
large. I think he's going to outweigh me by about 35 pounds, so those
are things that I've trained and prepared to deal with."Couture said the preparation process for this bout has been eerily reminiscent of his March 2007 outing against 6'8" Tim Sylvia."There
are similarities in that it's hard to find guys that are going to
simulate Brock or a guy like Tim," Couture said. "They're very unique
in their skill sets and their physicality. And so there's been some
déjà vu during this 10-week camp with some of the things that I had to
go through week in and week out."But that's good. The outcome of the Sylvia fight was good. That paid off. Hopefully it's going to pay off again in this fight."If
Couture's preparation does pay off, the inevitable line of questions
regarding a potential bout with WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor
Emelianenko will certainly surface once again. Couture said he is
uninterested in speculating on that at this time."I'm not
worried about Fedor," Couture said. "I'm not worried about any of that.
I don't even want to hear any of those questions, because at this point
none of that matters."In fact, Couture is not interested in
speculating at all what may be in store for him in the future. Win or
lose, Couture is focused solely on the massive roadblock that currently
stands in his way."I started out taking this one fight at a
time, and I'm going to continue to do that," Couture said. "It seems to
be working for me."