Randy Couture wants Rua, Machida, or UFC retirement
UFC hall of famer Randy Couture all but announced his retirement on Tuesday night via his official Twitter account, but told the Times he’d be willing to hold out for bouts against either UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua or former titleholder Lyoto Machida to cap off his storied 13-year MMA career.
“Thanks to everybody who's been tweeting about seeing my fights I must have missed the memo :) I think I'm at the end of it Yall. It's time,” posted the 47-year-old fighting legend.
When reached by the Times Tuesday evening, Couture (19-10) said he was surprised by the response he’d gotten from the message and hadn’t intended it as an “official statement” on his status. Still, he reiterated that his cage career was likely coming to an end.
“I think I’m done. The time is right,” said Couture via text. “I’d fight Machida or Shogun but outside of that, I wanna focus on other things in my life.”
Rua, who sat out the second half of 2010 after undergoing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee surgery last June, is slated to defend his title against Rashad Evans at a UFC event in March.
Machida dropped a close split decision to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 123 on Nov. 20 in Auburn Hills, Mich. The 32-year-old Brazilian-Japanese fighter’s next bout hasn’t been announced yet.
Couture’s achievements in the sport have been plentiful. At his Octagon debut at UFC 13 in 1997, the four-time Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling alternate bested two opponents in one night to win the promotion’s heavyweight tournament. Over the next decade, “The Natural” -- as he was christened for his quick assimilation from wrestling to MMA -- collected six more UFC titles: three at heavyweight and three at light heavyweight (including an interim title.)
In 2006, during a brief retirement, Couture became the third fighter inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame following in the footsteps of Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock.
Couture left the UFC in 2007 following a contract dispute, but returned a year later to defend his heavyweight title against fellow collegiate wrestler Brock Lesnar. The former pro wrestling star clipped Couture with an overhand right in the second round and finished him with ground punches to take the title.
Despite winning his last three bouts against Brandon Vera (at light heavyweight), former UFC and Pride heavyweight champion Mark Coleman and multi-title boxer James Toney at UFC 118 August in Boston, Couture recently stated that he felt he didn’t have another title run left in him.
In 2010, the Washington native’s budding acting career took centerstage. Couture split his preparation time for Toney, who he submitted with an arm-triangle choke in the first round, with a publicity tour for the summer blockbuster “The Expendables.” Couture had a supporting role in the film alongside director and star Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and other action-movie notables.
Couture recently completed a small role in “Set Up,” starring Bruce Willis and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and is set to reprise his “Toll Road” character in “The Expendables 2” in early 2011.
“If [the UFC] offered me Shogun or Machida, I’d take the fight. Otherwise, I think I’m done. [I’m] gonna focus on acting and the businesses,” Couture told the Times.
Couture owns the “Xtreme Couture MMA” gym in Las Vegas and has launched successful clothing and supplement lines. His eldest son, Ryan, debuted in Strikeforce last August, walking away with a swift first-round submission.
-- Loretta Hunt
Editor’s Note: Hunt collaborated with Couture on his New York Times best-selling memoir “Becoming The Natural: My Life In and Out of the Cage” in 2007.