UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar Fighter Salaries

  • Brock Lesnar — $450,000 ($250,000 to show, $200,000 to win)
  • Randy Couture — $250,000
  • Gabriel Gonzaga — $110,000 ($55,000 to show, $55,000 to win)
  • Dustin Hazelett — $88,000 ($14,000 to show, $14,000 to win, $60,000 Submission of Night Bonus)
  • Kenny Florian — $80,000 ($ 40,000 to show, $40,000 to win)
  • Jeremy Stephens — $76,000 ($8.000 to show, $8,000 to win, $60,000 KO of the Night Bonus)
  • Jorge Gurgel — $10,000 ($60,000 Fight of the Night Bonus)
  • Aaron Riley — $68,000 ($4,000 to show, $4,000 to win, $60,000 Fight of the Night Bonus)
  • Demian Maia — $40,000 ($20,000 to show, $20,000 to win)
  • Joe Stevenson — $35,000
  • Nate Quarry — $25,000
  • Mark Bocek — $18,000 ($9,000 to show, $9,000 to win)
  • Matt Brown — $16,000 ($8,000 to show, $8,000 to win)
  • Tamdan McCrory — $10,000
  • Josh Hendricks — $8,000
  • Alvin Robinson — $7,000
  • Rafael dos Anjos — $4,000
  • Ryan Thomas — $3,000
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UFC 91 Preview and Predictions

Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar

Perhaps this is not the biggest fight in UFC history, but it is a big one that is sure to attract a record crowd.  The hype surrounding this card speaks volumes about this particular fight seeing as how the rest of the card is mediocre at best.  This is also a hard fight to pick.  Here is what we know.  Brock Lesnar has looked impressive in his two UFC fights although he lost his debut against Frank Mir (or as he says it “Murr”).  Quite honestly, if Steve Mazagatti hadn’t pulled Lesnar off and stood them up for a hit to the back of the head the fight may have ended with Lesnar being victorious.  Against Heath Herring Lesnar showed incredible ability to control another fighter and he showed that he hits stinkin’ hard.  There are a lot of unknowns about Brock Lesnar.  However, Randy Couture is not an unknown at all.  We know what he will bring to the cage.  He comes in as an underdog despite his experience.  Let me break down this fight. I broke down different skills sets and picked who had tha advantage in each realm that may be a factor in this fight.  Myabe it will help in picking a winner.

Age: Brock Lesnar

Randy is 45.  Brock Lesnar is 31.  Age could be a factor.  It hasn’t been for Randy yet, but it is bound to be eventually.  Everyone thought it was an issue against Tim Sylvia and against Gabriel Gonzaga and it wasn’t, a little over a year later, we expect it could be a factor.  I do not believe it will be the sole factor or even the deciding factor, but it will be a factor. Unfortunately, if Couture loses everyone will blame it on Randy’s age and not Lesnar’s skill.  I believe everyone would agree that Lesnar wins the age battle.

Experience: Randy Couture

There is no question that Randy’s experience is a huge factor.  Lesnar is 2-1 in his MMA career.  Granted he has fought elite fighters in Mir and Herring, he doesn’t nearly have the résumé that Couture has.  Couture has an impressive 16-8 record.  Randy has been in the ring against guys like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, Gabriel Gonzaga, Vitor Belfort, Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez, Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Jeremy Horn, and Kevin Randleman.  Couture has fought 5 round fights.  He has headlines big events.  He has been in every imaginable situation in a fight.  That is a huge advantage.  The limelight will not be a decided advantage for Randy because Lesnar has been there.  He experienced that in WWE and even in his college wrestling days.  When it comes down to instincts in the ring though Randy has the advantage.  The one who loses this fight could very well be the one who makes the first mistake.  That bodes very well for Couture.

Strength: Brock Lesnar

Is there any real question here?  Look at Lesnar.  He dwarfs everyone.  He is strong as an ox.  By the way, never question whether Lesnar’s build and strength were gained by natural means because he does not like being accused of steroids.  Strength could be an issue.  Lesnar’s strength could give Lesnar the ability to hold Couture down and avoid reversals.  It could help in the clinch, where Randy is very good.  It could help to avoid submissions and to get off his back.  In this match-ups strength will be an issue.  We give the strength advantage to Lesnar.

Athleticism: Brock Lesnar

This is a tough one to call.  I just give the athletic advantage to Lesnar because he is younger and he is a physical specimen.  He is a elite wrestler.  He played some pro football.  He is doing well in MMA.  He has shown great athletic prowess.  I think Lesnar may be the most athletic heavyweight.  He is quick and moved well for a guy nearing 300 lbs. I know WWE is fake and say what you want about pro wrasslin’, but it does take great athleticism do fair well in the WWE. I give the athleticism advantage to Lesnar, but not by a lot.

Wrestling: Brock Lesnar

I know that Randy Couture is a top tier wrestler.  I know of his background at Oklahoma State.  I know that he was an Olympic alternate like 3 times.  There is no one with the wrestling pedigree of Brock Lesnar.   He is a national champ out of Minnesota.  He could have done whatever he wanted wrestling wise.  Where does this come into play?  On the ground.  It will be very hard to keep Brock on his back.  However, he is not in there against some tomato can wrestler.  Randy Couture is a good, very good wrestler.  I give the advantage to Brock here though mainly because Randy is further removed from his wrestling career than Brock Lesnar.  The skill set difference may not be enough to make much difference and I highly doubt this fight will unfold like the Herring fight did. 

Grappling: Randy Couture

Brock Lesnar showed a lot of skill against Herring, but he showed very little grappling or jiu jitsu skills.  He should have submitted him numerous times following the many times he mounted the Texas Crazy Horse or the times he took his back.  If he gives Randy his back he will be choked out.  That may be a good place for Randy to look to win and it may be an area that Brock is vulnerable.  With that said the brute strength of Lesnar makes up for some of his lack of grappling skill and also, Lesnar is showing improvement constantly.  Certainly he has worked on grappling.  The question is how much did he improve since Herring?

Clinch: Randy Couture

Randy is a master at the clinch and dirty boxing.  He is not afraid to clinch with bigger stronger guys.  Just ask Gonzaga and Sylvia.  The clinch could be a good place to be for Randy.  He has a decided clinch advantage.

Size: Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar has to cut weight to make 265 lbs.  Randy Couture will come in barely over 205 lbs.  Lesnar wears those XXXXL MMA gloves.  He will be a tough dude to wrap up and to hold onto.  Enough said. 

Striking Technique: Randy Couture

Randy never fails to impress.  He has more technique because he has been at it longer.  He may utilize his technique and boxing skills to keep Lesnar away and he may want to test Brock’s chin.  Randy hit Sylvia so hard in round 1 of their fight that Tim says he didn’t come to until round 5. 

Striking Power: Brock Lesnar

Ask Heath Herring.  Brock can hit hard.  He doesn’t seem to have the technique that Randy does, but I have a feeling that Brock hits harder.  He packs a lot of weight behind a punch.  If Brock hits Randy like he did Herring it could be a bad night for Captain America.

Training: Randy Couture

I do not doubt Lesnar’s work ethic or how good his training will be.  The bottom line is that Xtreme Couture is becoming one of the elite training facilities in the world.  Randy will as always have a superior game plan and will have trained and prepared for everything in this fight.

Fans/Popularity: Randy Couture

He is Captain America.  He is the Natural.  Randy Couture is beloved by fans.  I do not know if his recent stint outside the octagon will hurt him, but I think it will help him.  I imagine that when Randy walks out Saturday night that the cheers will be deafening.  The fans will be behind Randy.  Brock is not unpopular, it is just he is fighting the most popular or at least one of the most popular mixed martial artists.  His popularity will translate into money and pay per view buys.  I think Randy will have the crowd seeing as how he is fighting out of his hometown of Las Vegas.  This is a factor in this fight.  Brock will receive some love too, but not the love of Captain America.

Cardio:  Randy Couture

I almost labeled this a tossup.  It really could be, but I gave it to Randy for a few reasons.  First, Randy is and always has been known as a cardio machine.  Second, he has gone five round before.  After round 3 it is a new place for Brock.  I would imagine that Brock’s cardio is very good and that he is prepared to go 5, but he is more likely to gas than Randy and Randy could keep a fast paced or in your face style that could wear down Lesnar.  I do not think it is a huge advantage, but it could be a slight advantage.

The only other question I would have is will Randy show some ring rust?  I doubt it.  I am so tempted to pick Lesnar to win this fight.  However, I have learned my lesson about betting against Randy Couture.  Therefore I pick Randy Couture to win by submission in round 3. 

Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson

A great fight in the lightweight divison which should determine the number 1 contender.  If Florian wins he has to get a title shot.  If Florian can avoid the Stevenson guillotine choke he will win this fight.  I am excited about this one.  However, I pick Florian by decision.

Demian Maia vs. Nate Quarry

This is a great fight.  Quarry is a good striker and Maia is a great grappler and jiu jitsu practioner.  The winner of this fight moved far up the ladder at 185 lbs.  I think if it stays standing Quarry wins.  If it goes to the ground Maia wins.  With that said, I think it will go to the ground.  Maia will then make quick work of Quarry.  If I am wrong Quarry will have won by KO or TKO.  Nevertheless, I pick Maia by submission in round 1.

Amir Sadollah vs. Nick Catone

I know nothing about Catone, but do you really think they will give the Ultimate Fighter winner a guy they thought would beat Amir?  Amir by submission in round 2.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Josh Hendricks

Quick Picks:

Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory

Jorge Gurgel vs. Aaron Riley

Jeremy Stephens vs. Rafael dos Anjos

Mark Bocek vs. Alvin Robinson

Matt Brown vs. Ryan Thomas

Fight of the Night Pick: Gurgel vs. Riley

Submission of the Night Pick: Demian Maian or Dustin Hazelett

KO of the Night Pick: Jeremy Stephens

Upset to Wtach: Brock Lesnar over Randy Couture and Nate Quarry over Demian Maia

UFC News: Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory at UFC 91

Sherdog.com is reporting that a bout between welteweight fighters Dustin Hazelett and Tamdan McCrory is likely for UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar.  The bout features two rising welterweight fighters.  Both these guys are solid up and comers and should be a good gauge for the skills of these guys. 

Tamdan McRory and the fast-rising Dustin Hazelett (Pictures) have verbally agreed to meet in a welterweight bout at UFC 91 “Couture vs. Lesnar” on Nov. 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Bout agreements are expected to be signed this week.

UFC 91 is expected to be huge.  Dana White predicted between 1 million and 1.5 million pay per view buys.  The card will headline the epic fight between Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar as well as a rumored bout between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlei Silva.  Also, a super lightweight fight between contenders Joe Stevenson and Kenny Florian. 

The match between two of the promotion’s more highly regarded prospects will provide depth to a card that will feature a five-round heavyweight title fight between returning champion Randy Couture (Pictures) and former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar (Pictures).

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt who operates at a black belt level, Hazelett (11-4) bounced back from his TKO loss to Josh Koscheck (Pictures) in March and submitted Josh Burkman (Pictures) with highlight-reel armbar at “The Ultimate Fighter 7” Finale three months later. Eight of the 22-year-old Hazelett’s 11 career wins have come by submission.

“He’s a good jiu-jitsu guy with a lot of experience, “McCrory said. “He’s been in the UFC a little longer than I have, but he’s just another tough opponent.”

McCrory (9-1), a promising 21-year-old from Ithaca, N.Y., last competed at UFC 87 in August when he went the distance for the first time in his career and picked up a unanimous decision victory against Luke Cummo (Pictures), a former finalist on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.

“There were a lot of things I did well in that fight, and there were a lot of things I could have done better,” McCrory said. “They never go the way you expect them to. The way I see it, I’m a young talent with a lot of years left to grow. I have a lot of time to build my status in the UFC.”

A college student who splits his time between the classroom and the gym, McCrory made his UFC debut in 2007 when he submitted Pete Spratt (Pictures) with a triangle choke. A submission loss to Pride Fighting Championships veteran Akihiro Gono (Pictures) followed, though McCrory impressed against the seasoned Japanese standout. At 6-foot-5, he remains one of the welterweight division’s taller competitors, and he has set out to utilize the physical ability with which he has been blessed.

“I’ve been working on my jiu-jitsu a lot,” McCrory said. “That’s one of the parts of my game that wasn’t as strong as I needed it to be. I’ve gotten 100 times better on the ground. My stand-up’s still improving. Every day, I get better.”

My UFC 87 Thoughts and Results

  • Georges St. Pierre defeats Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
  • Brock Lesnar defeats Heath Herring via Unanimous Decision
  • Kenny Florian defeats Roger Huerta via Unanimous Decision
  • Demian Maia defeats Jason MacDonald via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • Rob Emerson defeats Manny Gamburyan via Knockout in Round One
  • Tamdan McCrory defeats Luke Cummo via Unanimous Decision
  • Cheick Kongo defeats Dan Evensen via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
  • Jon Jones defeats Andre Gusmao via Unanimous Decision
  • Chris Wilson defeats Steve Bruno via Unanimous Decision
  • Ben Saunders defeats Ryan Thomas via Submission (Armbar) in Round One
  • * I had a good night as far as predictions go, I predicted 8 of 10 correctly. 

    Submission of the Night: Demian Maia
    Knockout of the Night: Rob Emerson
    Fight of the Night: GSP & Jon Fitch ($60k each)

    My Disappointment of the Night: Manny Gamburyan or Andre Gusmao

    My Thoughts:

    • The Maia McDonald fight was a great battle in round one especially.  Maia is awesome.  I am seriously a believer.  I think he is a top flight middleweight and can contend for the belt.  His submissions are sick, he showed some great ground and pound skills.  He stood toe to toe.  Maia is a real deal fighter and he will get some respect now.
    • The Huerta vs. Florian fight was a good fight, but it wasn’t the fight of the year that it was billed to be.  I scored the fight 30-27 Florian as did the judges.  I believe the score doesn;t show how close the fight was, but Florian was clearly more technical and better all around.  Florian is now officially the number one contender in the UFC lightweight divison
    • Who would have predicted Emerson to KO Manny in 12 seconds?  I was disappointed with that.
    • Cheick Kongo is huge and I am glad his fight made it onto the card.  He looked good againt Evensen.  He is a top ten maybe top 5 heavyweight.  However, why call for the belt after you beat Dan Evensen?  Sorry Cheick get in line behind Werdum and beat someone of note.  You need some type of win streak to get a title shot. 
    • Brock Lesnar silenced any doubters.  He showed he has the skills to fight, and not just fight, but to win.  And not just to win, but to win against top tier fighters.  He has a lot of areas to improve upon.  He need to improve his submission skills.  He had a dominant position countless times and did nothing with it.  That comes from his wrestling background.  He needs to learn something about keeping the mount and dropping elbows.  He is strong as an ox.  He hits hard.  Man was that first punch hard!  I thought it was funny in the countdown Herring said, “I have fought bigger, stronger, better and more accomplished wrestlers.”  He was wrong.  He has not fought a wrestler of Brock’s calibur and strength and Brock dominated him.
    • I was disappointed with Lesnar’s WWE antics and unsportsman like conduct.   He shoved Herring away after round 1.  He acted like Herring at the end of the fight.  He pointed at him and laughed afterwards.  He acted like he was lasoing him.  I don’t have a problem with some of that.  I know adrenaline gets pumping and I know other fighters do things like act like the are burying a guy or the Barnett throat cut, but Lesnar needs to learn respect for his opponent. 
    • Speaking of respect for opponents how about the St. Pierre vs. Fitch fight.  A possible fight of the year candidate.  Fitch was out of his league.  He looked good a few minutes during the fight, but St. Pierre dominated.  The story following this is not as much St. Pierre winning and keeping his belt as it is Fitch’s toughness.  Fitch is one tough dude.  I gained respect for him.  How about the show of class between these two after the fight?  That is why I like St. Pierre. 
    • It looks like Penn vs. St. Pierre will indeed happen, hopefully in December.  Wow!  What a fight that will be. 

    UFC Fighter Rankings

    Where do fighters rank in the UFC?  I’ve seen all sorts of thoughts on rankings, so I will chime in and give my rankings, which of course are the best and most accurate.  I am using a few guidelines.

    • This is strictly UFC, not including fighters not yet signed in UFC from Pride.  For example, Fedor would be on or near the top of the Heavyweight rankings, but he is yet to sign so he is not included
    • This is based not on popularity or even record, but purely on who I perceive to be the best fighters
    • I am putting the title holders at number one in each weight class, even though they might not be the best in that class, for example, I would not have Matt Serra as the best fighter in his class, but he is the belt holder.
    • Some fighters are rising quickly and others are falling quickly (i.e. Tito and Cro Cop)

    HEAVYWEIGHTS

    1. Randy “The Natural” Couture

    2. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski

    3. Gabriel Gonzaga

    4. Cheick Kongo

    5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

    6. Tim Sylvia

    7. Mirko “Cro Cop”

    8. Brandon Vera

    9. Frank Mir

    10. Jeff Monson 

    11. Heath Herring

    12. Fabricio Werdum

    13. Assuerio Silva

    (Note: Fedor, Josh Barnett, and even Aleksander Emelianko may have made the list had they signed. )

    LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS

    1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

    2. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

    3. Dan Henderson

    4. Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell

    5. Wandelai Silva

    6. Rashad Evans

    7. Houston Alexander

    8. Tito Ortiz

    9. Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine

    10. Forrest Griffin

    11. Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira

    12. Matt “The Hammer” Hamill

    13. Micael Bisping

    14. Ryoto Machida

    15. Jason Lambert

    16. Stephan Bonnar

    17. Renato “Babalu” Sorbal

    18. Wilson Gouveia

    19. Marvin Eastman

    (Note: I put Hamill above Bisping because I believe he beat Bisping in their fight.  Even though Bisping got the win, Hammil looked better.)

    MIDDLEWEIGHT:

    1. Anderson Silva

    2. Rich Franklin

    3. Yushim Okami

    4. Terry Martin

    5. Nate Marquardt

    6. Dan Henderson

    7. Jason MacDonald

    8. Patrick Cote 

    9. Kalib Starnes

    10. Chris Leben

    11. Martin Kampmann

    12. Thales Leites

    13. Ivan Salaverry

    14. Nate “Rock” Quarry

    15. Evan Tanner

    16. Kendall Grove

    17. Ed Herman

    18. Travis Lutter

    19. Dean Lister

    20. Alessio Sakara

    WELTERWEIGHT:

    1. Matt Serra

    2. Georges St. Pierre

    3. Matt Hughes

    4. Diego Sanchez

    5. Karo Parisyan

    6. Josh Koschek

    7. Jon Fitch

    8. B.J. Penn

    9. Marcus Davis

    10. Mike Swick

    11. Thiago Alves

    12. Josh Burkman

    13. Luigi Fioravanti

    14. Nick Diaz

    15. Chris Lytle

    16. Edilberto “Crocota” de Oliveira

    17. Jonathan Goulet

    LIGHTWEIGHT:

    1.  Sean Sherk

    2. B.J. Penn

    3. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson

    4. Roger Huerta

    5. Kenny Florian

    6. Hermes Franca

    7. Nick Diaz

    8. Joe Lauzon

    9.  Din Thomas

    10. Marcus Davis

    11. Clay Guida

    12. Spencer Fisher

    13. Frank Edgar

    14. Melvin Guillard

    15. Drew Fickett

    16. Kurt Pellegrino

    17. Terry Etim

    18. Tyson Griffin

    19. Marcus Aurelio

    20. Sam Stout

    21. Tiago Tavares

    22. Nate Diaz

    (Note: I listed to 22 because there are so many quality fighters and the last 12-15 of these guys are not far from one another in ranking,  Some rankings have my number 19 Marcus Aurelio much higher, but come on, whose he gonna bump down?)

     Let the disputing begin.  I’d love to hear comments.  Perhaps I left someone off included someone I shouldn’t have.  Perhaps I have someone overrated or another underrated.  Let me know what you think.