Randy “The Natural” Couture MMA Fighter Profile
Randy Couture is a mixed martial artist fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ heavyweight division. Aside from fighting in the UFC, Randy is also a Greco-Roman wrestler, an actor, a former collegiate wrestler, and the former UFC Heavyweight champion. Couture has been praised for bringing the sport of mixed martial arts into the mainstream of American sports and pop culture. He is one of only two MMA fighters ever to hold two championship titles for two different weight classes(heavyweight and light heavyweight titles). Randy “the Natural” Couture holds many honors as a fighter in the UFC. Randy is the only fighter in the history of the UFC to win a championship title after being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and is the oldest champion in the history of MMA. He is the only 5 time champion in the history of the UFC, and has competed in a record 15 UFC title fights. Couture is now a UFC hall of famer and is arguably the most popular fighter in the history of mixed martial arts.
Randy Couture was born on June 22, 1963 and has lived a majority of his life in Corvallis, Oregon where he has been an alternate for the US Olympic wrestling team and has served as an assistant wrestling coach for Oregon State University. Couture also co-founded Team Quest, an MMA training facility, along side Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson. The training camp is based out of Gresham, Oregon and coached by Robert Folis. Randy opened his own chain of MMA gyms called Xtreme Couture when he moved to Las Vegas in 2005. Over the years, Randy’s gym, Xtreme Couture, has expanded into Florida, Washington, Missouri, and Toronto. He is currently in training at his Las Vegas gym and has recently partnered with Bas Rutten to open Legends Gym, located in Hollywood, California.
As a UFC fighter, Couture is well known for his wrestling style of fighting. He is considered a clinch, and ground and pound fighter who prefers to take his opponent to the mat, establish top position, and pound his opponent on the bottom. While this is his primary fighting style, Randy is also a very talented boxer, and displays a number of skills in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Randy Couture And The UFC Solve Dispute
Following the legal mess that Randy and the UFC got into, the UFC announced that it had entered a deal with the 45 year old Randy Couture that would include three fights and Couture’s return to competition in the UFC. In his first fight back, Randy took on challenger Brock Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight title at UFC 91 in November of 2008. The fight started off very close, with each fighter looking strong at times, and then in the second round, Lesnar dropped Couture and finished him with hammer punches for a TKO victory over Couture. Lesnar’s win claimed him Randy’s UFC Heavyweight title. After the fight, Couture told Joe Rogan that he plans to continue fighting and blamed the loss not on age but purely on a bad performance.
Randy has stated many times that he still wants to fight the world’s best pound for pound fighter Fedor Emelianenko, but the UFC is unable to sign Fedor to the UFC. Couture also stated that he would be willing to drop to a lower weight class in order to fight the Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida. Couture’s next scheduled fight will be at UFC 102 in Portland, Oregon against UFC Interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Dispute With The UFC
Randy Couture announced in October of 2007 that he was breaking all ties with the UFC and was leaving two contracted fights, and his heavyweight belt behind. Couture was leaving the UFC because of disagreements he had with UFC president Dana White over some of Couture’s payouts for his fights. Couture was unhappy with the UFC because he didn’t feel the UFC paid him a fair amount for his two back to back victories and Randy was upset that Chuck Liddell, who lost his two most recent fights, was getting paid more money for his fights.
Later that month, UFC president Dana White made it public that Couture remains the UFC’s heavyweight champion despite Randy’s intention to quit, and also stated that the UFC would not release Couture from his contractual agreement. Dana White and Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, made many efforts to try and get Randy Couture to return to the UFC but were unsuccessful in doing so.
On January 15, 2008 Zuffa and Dana White filed a lawsuit in Nevada citing Randy Couture’s breach of contract and irreparable damage. In August of 2008, a Texas appeals court granted Zuffa and the UFC a motion for declaratory judgment in the suit against Randy Couture.
Randy Couture Returns To The UFC
Randy Couture announced his intentions to return to the UFC and come out of retirement during an interview with Inside The UFC on Spike in January of 2007. Randy confirmed in an interview with Joe Rogan that he signed a four fight, two year deal with the UFC and was set to challenge Tim Sylvia for his UFC Heavyweight title at UFC 68.
Randy Couture was 43 years old at UFC 68, as he defeated the Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia by unanimous decision en route to claiming his third UFC Heavyweight Championship title. Just 8 seconds into the first round, Couture connected with a punch that put the giant Silvia to the mat. Randy controlled the fight from the very beginning and dominated for the full five rounds, making him the first ever UFC fighter in history to become a three time champion.
At UFC 74 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Randy Couture defended his Heavyweight title against Gabriel Gonzaga, who was coming off an impressive victory over Mirko Filipovic making him the number one contender. “Captain America” defeated Gonzaga in the third round by TKO due to strikes. During the fight, Randy suffered a broken left arm when he blocked one of Gonzaga’s kicks. The injury sidelined Couture for six weeks but proved to be the least of his worries since he was entering into a legal battle with the UFC.
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Randy Couture and Retirement
Shortly after Randy announced his retirement the UFC made Randy Couture the fourth fighter ever to be introduced into the UFC Hall of Fame, where he joined UFC greats Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, and Ken Shamrock.
After his retirement, Randy stayed involved in the professional fighting circuit by appearing at UFC events as a broadcast commentator and co-hosting the show “Before/After the Bell” on the fight network. Randy also made an appearance on “Big Stan” a comedy by Rob Shneider.
Couture had a hard time staying away from competing and in November of 2006, he competed in a submission wrestling match against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Ronaldo Souza. The match ended in a draw after neither competitor could submit the other.
During his retirement, Couture was also featured on the reality show “Pros Vs. Joes” on January 25, 2007. During the finale of the show, Couture competed in a football based competition along side teammates Kevin Willis, Randall Cunningham, Roy Jones Jr. and other professional athletes. Randy also appeared as a guest on the CBS show “The Unit” where he played a military guard, and he appeared in the movie “Redbelt” as a fight announcer.
On September 27, 2007, Randy was seen as a guest on an episode of the History Channel’s “Human Weapon” and starred in The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior in 2008.
Randy Couture And The UFC
Randy Couture made his UFC debut in May of 1997 when he fought at UFC 13: The Ultimate Force. This UFC event was comprised of a 4 man light heavyweight tournament for fighters under 200 pounds, and a 4 man heavyweight tournament for fighters 200 pounds and up. Randy fought in the heavyweight tournament, where he fought and defeated Tony Halme and Steven Graham on his way to winning the mini tournament. Couture was next scheduled for an elimination match for a shot at the UFC heavyweight title against Brazilian phenom Vitor Belfort who was riding a four fight win streak and considered a heavy favorite against Couture. The Natural won the fight in stunning fashion, as he beat the young Brazilian Belfort by TKO stoppage.
Couture was now set to face kick boxer Maurice Smith for Couture’s first UFC heavyweight title shot ever in Japan in December of 1997. Randy won the title match by majority decision to claim his first UFC heavyweight title ever. He didn’t keep his title for long as Randy was stripped of his title because he could not come to an agreement with the UFC concerning his contract. Couture left the UFC after he was stripped of his belt and fought in the 1998 Vale Tudo Japan where he was submitted with an armbar by Enson Inoue in his first fight for the organization. Soon after, Randy competed in the RINGS: King of Kings tournament in 2000. He lost his first RINGS match to Mikhail Illoukhine, and went on to win his next two RINGS matches by unanimous decision.
Later in 2000, Couture signed back with the UFC and was given a shot at the Heavyweight title at UFC 28 in November of 2000. He was set to face the defending UFC Heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman and Couture went on to defeat Randleman in the 3rd round by TKO stoppage due to strikes. Shortly after his title victory, Randy returned to the RINGS fight circuit, where he fought in the King of Kings heavyweight finals. He won his first fight by unanimous decision and went on to the tournament final where he lost by guillotione choke to Valentijn Overeem in the first round. After the tournament, Randy returned to the UFC to defend his Heavyweight title belt.
Couture fought two more times in 2001, both against Brazilian heavyweight star Pedro Rizzo, and both times were for the Heavyweight title belt. Randy successfully defended his Heavyweight belt both times, beating Rizzo by unanimous decision the first time at UFC 31, and and again at UFC 34 by scoring a TKO victory in the 3rd round.
In 2002, after successfully defending his title twice against Pedro Rizzo, Randy was next scheduled to fight number one contender Josh Barnett at UFC 36. Couture lost to Barnett via TKO in the 2nd round and lost his Heavyweight title for the first time. Following the result of the fight, Josh Barnett tested positive for steroids, leaving the heavyweight title up for grabs. Randy Couture was given the first shot at the vacant title at UFC 39 where he squared off against Ricco Rodriguez late in 2002. Randy controlled the fight through the first four rounds but in the last round, Rodriguez caught Couture off guard and finished Couture via TKO to win the Heavyweight title.
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Couture Moves to Light Heavyweight Division
Following Couture’s back-to-back losses at the Heavyweight division, Randy moved down a weight class where he fought at 205 lbs in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. In his first fight at the new weight class, Randy faced off against the great Chuck Liddell for the Light heavyweight interim belt. Couture handled Liddell, beating him in the 3rd round by TKO due to strikes and claimed the interim Light Heavyweight title. His win made him the only fighter to hold UFC titles in two different weight classes, and with the feat he was nicknamed “Captain America”.
Couture, the interim light heavyweight champion, would next fight the Light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz in a fight to settle who the undisputed champion of the UFC Light heavyweight division would be. At UFC 44: Undisputed, “Captain America” scored a unanimous decision win over Tito Ortiz to become the undisputed champion of the UFC Light Heavyweight division at the age of 40.
Randy Couture suffered his first ever knockout loss and handed over his Light Heavyweight title to Chuck Liddell in a rematch on April 16, 2005. Couture bounced right back with an easy win over Mike Van Arsdale in order to re-establish him as a contender for the UFC belt. Couture was given his third and final fight against Liddell following his victory over Van Arsdale in a championship match at UFC 57. Chuck Liddell handed Randy his second ever knock out loss when they squared off for the Light Heavyweight title. Randy Couture announced his plans to retire from the UFC following his loss to Liddell.
Randy Couture’s Days Of Wrestling
The Natural started wrestling at a young age at Alderwood Middle School in Lynnwood, Washington before attending Lynnwood High School where he won the Washington state championship as a senior. Upon his completion of high school, Randy Couture signed with the US Army and served from 1982-1988. When he was discharged from the Army, Randy continued wrestling and was a three-time Olympic team alternate for the US wrestling program in 1988, 1992, and 1996. He was also a semifinalist at the 2000 Olympic Trials, a two time runner up at the NCAA Division 1 wrestling championships for Oklahoma State, and a three time NCAA Division 1 All-American. Couture placed second behind wrestling legend Mark Kerr at the 190 pound division of the national division-1 championships in 1992.