by MMAWeekly.com Staff
The UFC’s first trip to the Pacific Northwest is officially set at last.
The promotion on Monday announced UFC 102, featuring Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, to be held Aug. 29 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. The arena plays host to the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and a variety of concerts and events.
“We’re extremely excited to be heading to Portland,” said UFC president Dana White. “When you get two mixed martial arts legends that are all heart and have wanted to fight each other for years, plus the fact that Randy has roots in Oregon, that tells me that not only will the crowd be electric, but it’s also a night where the fighters will be looking to cement their legacies.”
MMAWeekly.com first reported the long anticipated main event in February as the headliner for UFC 101 on Aug. 8. The event was later rebooked as UFC 102 on Aug. 29 when recently passed MMA legislation green-lighted Philadelphia for UFC 101 “Declaration,” featuring Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin.
Couture declined an offer to face Nogueira in December of 2007 subsequent to his resignation from the UFC in October. Upon returning in August of 2008, he faced wrestling import Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 and lost his heavyweight title via TKO. The UFC Hall of Famer was offered the fight again at UFC 96, but an elbow surgery ruled out the meeting.
During Couture’s absence, Nogueira won the interim heavyweight title by submitting former champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 81. He lost the interim title at UFC 92 when Frank Mir stopped him with strikes.
Couture, who turns 46 next week, will begin camp in late June after wrapping action movie “The Expendables” with action star Sylvester Stallone. Nogueira will make an appearance as a villain.
“Nogueira is the type of fighter that is dangerous everywhere,” said Couture. “He’s difficult to knock out and he’s a world class jiu-jitsu player. I will have to train very diligently and very specifically for him. Also, the fact that I’m fighting in Oregon makes me want to put on a great show and win for these fans.”
Nogueira recently told Fighters Only that his loss to Mir postponed retirement and motivated another run at the title.
“I’m honored to face such a great fighter as Randy Couture,” Nogueira said. “I wanted to fight him for some time now and I know to become a legend you have to beat a legend.”
Tickets for the event go on sale Saturday, June 20 and are priced between $50 and $600.