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Randy Couture Biograph

MMA Bio: Randy Couture

By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Known as “The Natural,” Couture was one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the octagon. He is one of only two fighters to reign is two different divisions and had the uncanny knack of winning fights after being counted out, winning 4 championship bouts past the age of 40. He was a 3-time heavyweight champion and 2-time light heavyweight champion, hence his legacy as one of the legends and pioneers of the sport.

Couture relied heavily on his wrestling skills. He would take his opponents to the mat and then employ some of the more-wicked ground and pound skills ever seen in the sport. He could knock opponents out, but was also adept at locking in finishing holds for submissions. His son Ryan later went on to fight in the UFC, as he takes on the unenviable position of trying to live up to the legacy of his father.

Couture wrestled at Oklahoma State with great distinction, becoming a 3-time NCAA All-American. In the early 90’s, however, great wrestlers did not have much of an outlet, with MMA still in its formative stages. Couture did what many top wrestlers of the time did and went to Oregon State to coach. It was during this time that he decided to give MMA a try, with the UFC picking up steam through its controversial initial shows.

At UFC 13, Couture made his MMA debut, winning a one-night heavyweight tournament. His career was on its way, even if MMA was still a highly-marginalized sport at the time. Still, it didn’t take Couture long to become a serious factor in the sport. In his third MMA fight, he TKO’d the first of many UFC luminaries, with a win over Vitor Belfort. In his 4th bout, he beat Maurice Smith for the UFC Heavyweight belt.

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Just as many MMA fighters did in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Couture went to Japan for greater opportunities. The UFC was really down in the dumps around this time. Couture went 2-2 in the Land of the Rising Sun, before returning to the UFC to knock out Kevin Randleman to again win the UFC Heavyweight Title. After again going to Japan and going 1-1 in 2 bouts, he returned to score a pair of wins over Pedro Rizzo.

Couture would lose his next two UFC fights and move down to the more suitable light heavyweight division, where he found immediate success. First up was fellow legend Chuck Liddell, who fell in round 3 by TKO. Couture then scored an upset over reigning champion Tito Ortiz. Couture was now a two-division champion.

Couture lost his belt to old rival Vitor Belfort, but in his next bout, got a leg up in the rivalry by TKO’ing Belfort to reclaim the belt. By this time, Liddell had improved and in their rematch, he stopped Couture and repeated the win in the rematch. It looked like the curtain was drawing on Couture’s career.

No such luck for UFC fighters looking to add a big name to their list of victims. Couture returned to the heavyweight division and took on towering champion Tim Sylvia. Couture won a unanimous decision and was champion once again. He defended against hulking challenger Gabriel Gonzaga with a TKO, before running into the sheer athleticism and physicality of Brock Lesnar, losing the title.

After a Fight of the Year loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Couture, now in his mid-40’s went on a 3-fight winning streak, beating Brandon Vera, Mark Coleman, and a quick submission over moonlighting boxing champion James Toney. A 2011 knockout loss to Lyoto Machida convinced Couture, 47, however, that his best days were behind him. It didn’t matter, as his legacy was already secured.

Couture was one of the more prominent fighters in MMA when the sport went from a marginalized freak show to a legitimate sport and the most popular form of combat in the USA. He absorbed some losses, but always bounced back with great wins. His list of wins reads like a who’s-who from at least two different eras of MMA. As his nickname suggests, Couture was indeed a natural and as time goes on, Couture will be remembered as one of the forerunners of the sport and one of its better early practitioners.

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