Couture still going strong
Story by Anthony Springer
Being a professional fighter beyond the age of 40 would strike most rational minded people as insane. Even the thought of fighting beyond the age of 40 would earn most individuals a white coat with no sleeves.
Consider this: All five reigning UFC champions are under the age of 35. BJ Penn (lightweight) is 30; Georges St-Pierre (welterweight) is 28; Anderson Silva (middleweight) is 34; Lyoto Machida (light heavyweight) is 31; and Brock Lesnar (heavyweight) is 32.
It’s safe to say that MMA is now—and will continue to be—a young man’s game.
Unless your name is Randy Couture.
At 46, “The Natural” still seems to be going strong. The co-founder of Team Quest is slated to meet Brandon “The Truth” Vera in the main event of UFC 105 this Saturday. Prior to the meeting with Vera, it was announced that Couture (16-10) had signed a six fight contract extension with the UFC—in layman’s terms, Captain America will finish his storied career at age 48.
If you’re not familiar with Randy Couture, do not let his record fool you. Less than stellar on paper, Couture has been in the cage with some of the best in the business including Antonio Nogueira, Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort, and Tito Ortiz. With the exception of “Big Nog”, Couture owns victories over all of the aforementioned fighters. While Couture would like nothing more than to go out on top with a victory over the unbeaten 205-pound champion Lyoto Machida, the bout with Vera will be business as usual for the man trying to climb to the top of the ladder.
“I like to get to the arena as the first fights going on,” Couture says of his pre-fight ritual. “I try to get a feel for the energy, the crowd and the referees that are working that night. You just kinda get in the groove of the night and then relax.”
Relaxation may be an understatement when you’ve been tasked with the main event in front of thousands of people. Couture may not be relaxed come Saturday night, but the word “nervous” will not be in “The Natural’s” vocabulary.
“I love my job and I’m very excited about the opportunity to compete. If you think about the physical attributes you assign to be nervous which is a negative connotation and the physical attributes to being excited, they’re very similar. It’s simply changing the name that you choose to assign those feelings. It’s a much better feeling to be excited about something.”
While the skeptical fans may be counting out Randy Couture, one man who is not looking past the former heavy and light heavyweight champion is his opponent, Brandon Vera. At one point during a recent conference call, Vera referred to Couture as “Mr. Couture.” Respect aside, don’t look for Vera to get caught up in the aura of fighting a legend of the sport.
“Randy deserves all the respect in the world,” Vera stated. “He is the man. But come fight night, Randy’s trying to whoop my ass. He’s handed out some good ones and I don’t want to be on the receiving end. I’ll be damned if I’m holding back.”
Likewise, Couture remains true to his usual self approaching a big fight. He’s non committal about his future, and remains steadfast in his resolve to take each fight as it comes.
“I don’t have any plans,” Couture said of his final fights. “I’m taking this one fight at a time. I’m certainly not looking past Brandon Vera.”