Randy Couture (born June 22, 1963) is an American actor, retired United States Army Sergeant, retired mixed martial artist and former collegiate and Greco-Roman wrestler. During his tenures in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Couture became a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, an interim UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and the UFC 13 Heavyweight Tournament Winner. Couture is the first of only three fighters to hold two UFC championship titles in two different divisions (along with B.J. Penn and Conor McGregor).
Couture has competed in a record 15 title fights. He holds the most title reigns in the UFC with five. His last fight with Lyoto Machida marked his 24th fight in the UFC, the tenth largest number of fights in the UFC (Michael Bisping, Frank Mir, and Tito Ortiz are tied for first with 27). Couture is the fourth member of the UFC Hall of Fame. He is the only person over the age of 40 to have won a UFC championship fight, having done so four times. Couture has also been one of the few MMA champions to have recovered a title he had previously lost, and is the only fighter to have achieved it three times (twice at Heavyweight, once at Light Heavyweight).
Couture was an Olympic wrestling alternate and has lived in Corvallis, Oregon, throughout much of his career, where he served as an assistant wrestling coach and a strength and conditioning coach for Oregon State University. He established Team Quest with Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson, a training camp for fighters, based out of Gresham, Oregon, and headed by coach Robert Folis. In 2005, Couture moved to Las Vegas, where he opened his own extensive chain of gyms under the name Xtreme Couture. Couture partnered with Bas Rutten to open Legends Gym in Hollywood, California.
Couture is generally recognized as a clinch and ground-and-pound fighter who uses his wrestling ability to execute take downs, establish top position and successively strike the opponent on the bottom. Couture has displayed a variety of skills in boxing and catch wrestling and has submitted four opponents using different chokeholds. Couture is the only athlete in UFC history to win a championship after becoming a Hall of Fame member and is the oldest title holder ever in the UFC and MMA.
Tony Reid caught up with him for the following interview.
Tony Reid-If you could choose one fight from your legendary career that you hang your hat on or one that best showcases you as a mixed martial artist, which fight would you choose and why?
Randy Couture-I don’t know about hanging my hat on one but my favorite fight was the Tim Sylvia fight at UFC 68. Coming back after 13 months and everything that went on during that time off. I had been counted out in a number of other fights as a big underdog but that fight signified the nature and tempo if my entire career in some ways.
Tony Reid- Now to the one that got away. You fought a who’s who and had one of the greatest careers in the history of the sport. But if you could fight anyone in any weight class who would you choose to fight and why?
Randy Couture-Everybody talks about the Fedor fight. We spent significant time with Zuffa trying to make that fight happen. There were other issues involved with that whole thing, too. The biggest issue was that he was the guy I wanted to fight at the time. He was ranked number one in the world in the heavyweight division. He was still fighting for Pride. It would have been a big crossover fight. It would have been interesting fight to fight him at the peak of his career. For whatever reason it never happened and it was just one of those things where we couldn’t work out all the details. Mark Cuban and his organization got involved. They tried to help me make that fight happen and it just got caught in the quagmire of the difficulties of contracts and signings in the sport.
Tony Reid- Team Quest, Xtreme Couture, you have trained as and alongside the kings of kings of the sport. What was the most memorable moment from any training session you have been involved in?
Randy Couture-There are so many special moments and memories. Starting with Team Quest and the crew of guys we had there in Gresham, Oregon. Training with Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland, of course. We had Evan Tanner in there. Chael Sonnen was in there. Chris Leben, Ed Herman, Nate Quarry…the list of guys that came out of that facility and gym and went on to do great things in the sport and compete at a high level is pretty remarkable. There are more guys that floated through there that I didn’t add to the list. It was a crazy group of guys. I think you could have sold popcorn and tickets to some of those workouts for sure.
I had similar experiences in Vegas with Xtreme Couture, too. There were workouts where Wanderlei Silva, Forrest Griffin and myself were in there getting after it. I think at one point we had four of the top five lightweights in the world in the gym at the same time. We had Gray Maynard, Michael Chandler, Tyson Griffin and a few others. Just to sit outside the cage and watch those guys get after it in there was pretty remarkable.
Tony Reid- You are such a competitor, entering MMA as quote un quote and older guy, you pursued numerous business ventures, clothing, gyms, best-selling author and now your extremely successful acting career, etc. I have talked to a number of the pioneers and legends in the sport, whether its Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and they seem to come to a point where they have some difficulty finding an outlet for that competitive drive. Is that some of or part of the reason why you do what you do, to continue to drive yourself and push boundaries?
Randy Couture-Yeah I think that competitive nature which is something we have nurtured and grown within ourselves our whole lives through athletics, is hard to just put it to rest and walk away from competing on that mat and in the cage. At some point your body just starts to give out on you. You just can’t do what you used to do. Your spirit, your mind are still telling your body that you can do what you used to do but you figure out pretty quickly that you can’t when that time comes. For me certainly acting is a very competitive genre. There are a ton of guys out there bidding for the same roles and trying to make their mark. The business world is a whole other form of competition of trying to do things right and do things better. Here in Vegas there are so many top fighters and gyms in town that you have to step it up and do your thing and do the best you can. I like these outlets but there is nothing that will replace stepping on that mat or walking up those four steps into that cage. That will always be there as something I have fond memories of.
Tony Reid-You are such a respected, revered and beloved member of the MMA community so I have to ask who are the people that inspire you most, personally and professionally?
Randy Couture-A lot of my work ethic and who I am came from my mom. She was a single parent raising three kids. She was working two sometimes three jobs. She left a list of chores that needed to get done while she was away making money so we had the things we needed as kids. That was something I learned from her and it inspired me and help develop me into the person I am today.
I have had so many coaches along the way that pushed me to go further and push back those boundaries and nurture me through the times when other guys wanted to quit when the work and hard stuff came along. I think of all my wrestling coaches…my high school coaches, my college coaches at Oklahoma State and those are the guys that pushed me in a lot of ways. Iron sharpens iron as they say and they helped form me in to who I am and that carried me into fighting. I looked up to Kenny Monday as he was winning world championships and gold medals. I saw the work. That never say die attitude that they possessed and I inspired to have. So many workout partners inspired me like Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland. We pushed each other. We beat each other up on a regular basis. We also took care of each other and encouraged each other. Those are the types of friendships that never go away. No matter where they are or where I am those friendships will always be special.