While the lights of UFC 88 on Saturday night shone brightest for Rashad Evans and his spectacular knockout of former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, he shared a bit of the spotlight with current heavyweight champion Randy Couture.
Embroiled in a legal standoff for the better part of the past year with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Couture recently reached a settlement with the mixed martial arts juggernaught, agreeing to a new three-fight contract and a return bout against former WWE star Brock Lesnar.
His return signals a difficult road ahead in securing Couture's coveted bout with MMAWeekly.com's No. 1 ranked heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, but it brings the UFC champion back into the fold. It also removes him from the courtroom showdowns that he so despises and puts him back into the realm he most desires -- fighting in the Octagon.
In an interview with commentator Joe Rogan during the UFC 88 broadcast, Couture put the bout with the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Lesnar into perspective.
"Brock's a huge guy, he moves very, very well for a 280-pound man," said the 6-foot-1, 225-pound heavyweight champion.
"I think any time I face another wrestler that comes from that background, it makes it interesting for me because that's the strength that I tend to rely on. Obviously, I have to really refine my striking, be ready to do some submissions if they present themselves. Those are the pieces of the MMA puzzle that I think that maybe Brock still needs to work on."
Couture has held the heavyweight belt on two different occasions, just as he has done at light heavyweight. He has more than 20 professional bouts to his credit. He has an extreme advantage in experience over Lesnar. The bout between the two at UFC 91 on Nov. 15 in Las Vegas will be only the fourth of his career.
With such disparity, many have questioned how difficult it would be for Couture to find the motivation to fight someone that is basically a novice in a sport the he has helped establish among the most popular in the world.
"I don't need any motivation at all. I do this because I love it," Couture told Rogan at UFC 88.
"This guy is a huge athletic guy, big powerful guy. That poses some interesting problems for me. Solving those problems is what I love about the sport."
He doesn't hide his desire to still fight Fedor, but Couture has always been a consummate professional when it comes down to a fight and his comments on Saturday night display no less in his approach to Lesnar.
As Nov. 15 draws nearer, Fedor is likely to fade farther and farther from Couture's consciousness, as he zeroes in on the 280-pound behemoth that will stalk the Octagon across from him at UFC 91.