It was a night to celebrate wrestling at UFC 109 in Las Vegas. In the evening's main event at the Mandalay Bay stood two of the game's early pioneers,
(Unfortunately for Coleman, he kept standing -- more on that later.)
Here, now, five things that became apparent during another night of interesting MMA bouts:
Maybe "The Natural" is correct. Maybe, at the age of 46, he can still improve in a sport that requires every firing synapse a person owns to go off like
Is it really possible?
Well, we know more about this: He isn't getting worse. During Couture's second-round destruction of Coleman, who last July at least appeared serviceable against
Before the bout, UFC president
I don't like Couture's chances in either case. However, as he's proven several times, it's not an idea you'd be smart to dismiss outright.
Coleman made Couture's night easy when, at the advice of his trainer
From the outset, Couture jabbed at Coleman (16-10) and snapped his head back with right hands. Coleman took the shots and moved back on uncertain legs. This was not the dominant man who mauled people en route to UFC and Pride championships.
Before the fight, Tompkins said Coleman's performance would be a confident one. That for the first time in his career he walked into a fight knowing he was prepared and trained up. Shortly into the bout, Coleman carried the attitude of a confused athlete, one who was thinking instead of fighting.
Between the first and second round, Coleman looked up at Tompkins as the Canadian -- who has a long resume of working with some of MMA's best, including Couture and
Coleman, the great wrestling pioneer, forgot he was "The Hammer" -- a particularly poignant reminder from
Is wrestling a martial art? Some people will say no, but they're wrong. Wrestling is perhaps the world's oldest and most influential art. Sonnen, in the evening's co-main event against
In the spirit of Coleman and Couture, Sonnen (24-10-1) smashed Marquardt's guard, slamming down punches and elbows from the opening bell. Marquardt (29-9-2) had improved steadily with his takedown defense, and against mediocre wrestlers it was enough to keep him standing. But not against someone as driven and competitive as Sonnen, traits which seem to be inherently elevated among wrestlers.
Because of Sonnen's style, aggression and pace, the No. 1 UFC middleweight contender is a threat to either champion
There was plenty of skill, and enough blood to satiate anyone looking for that. Really, it was the spirit and competitiveness displayed by both fighters, particularly Sonnen, that stood out. There isn't much that beats fighters delivering in high-stakes MMA bouts.
The anticipation and tension that accompanied Marquardt's guillotine attempt in the third after he rose from underneath Sonnen and landed a knee is something special to MMA.
• No. 1 contender fights should be five rounds. I've said this for a long time. I'll continue to say it. Sonnen-Marquardt was a tremendous three-round bout. It would have been an enthralling five-rounder.
• Brazilian welterweight
• Just because your last name is Gracie doesn't mean you'll be much of a fighter. It's kind of mandatory that you need to try, but the family has lacked a standard bearer since Rickson stopped competing and Royce took steroids. Add Rolles to list of fighters with the Gracie name -- Igor and Gregor, for instance -- who won't make do much in MMA. Look to Strikeforce-signed heavyweight Roger for the next Gracie with a serious future in fighting.