Thursday, February 22, 2007

Captain Comeback - Part II Of The Randy Couture Interview.

By Mike Chiappetta

Q: Was there any thought to having a tune-up fight before challenging for the title being that it's been a year since you've been gone? Are you worried at all about ring rust?
A: No. It didn't make sense to me to take a tune-up fight. This opportunity was there and it seemed like a fit. I've been active in my year off. It's not like I've been sitting on my hands eating bon-bons. So I don't think ring-rust is going to be an issue. Sparring has been going really well. I actually feel better that I've felt in a while. I've learned some new positions, new technique, and I'm more refined in my standup. My ability to train is as good as it's ever been, so I don't think it'll be an issue.

Q: So you basically stayed in fighting shape the whole time you were in retirement?
A: Pretty close. I rolled into the PSL to grapple with Jacare, and I didn't really have a lot of time for specific preparation for that. We had a 10-minute match plus overtime and it was a very active match, and it kind of signified to me that physically I was still here, still had the reactions and had it. I feel good.

Q: You always seemed to perform really well in the underdog role. Is being an underdog something you cherish or does that matter to you at all?
A: Well, it's certainly a load of pressure that I don't have to deal with in being the guy that everybody has all the expectations on. And I guess that being 43, I'll probably be in the underdog role in every single fight I'm in now. To me, that's fine. I don't care; they can count me out all they want. It's up to me to rationally evaluate where I'm at and what I'm capable of. I don't feel deluded, but hopefully I'm accurate in my self-evaluation.

Q: You and Tim Sylvia once trained together and are friends. Does that dynamic or history have any effect on this fight?
A: I don't know. Not from my perspective. When Tim was aspiring to be the heavyweight champion, he stayed at my house and we trained together. I think we learned a lot from each other and developed a friendship. That friendship is still intact, and I don't think this fight will affect that friendship one way or another.

I don't have an issue with it. I come from a wrestling background where that sort of thing is commonplace, where you wrestle your best friend or your teammates who you bleed with every day for that spot on the team, that chance to compete. So I think wrestlers have a different mentality about that sort of thing. Now, Tim on the other hand tends to be a little more emotional athlete who has to garner some animosity towards his opponent. He likes to talk a little trash, and I'm not sure how the friendship is affecting his ability to get the right mindset. But that's not my issue.

Q: What do you think Tim's strategy will be against you?
A: I'm expecting that he'll look at my last two fights against Chuck [Liddell]. He's going to try to use similar footwork and circle, try to stay away and use his range, try to stay off of the fence, and keep me from getting to him. He's going to try to catch me running him down. He's taken a shine to throwing kicks and he's certainly not opposed to jumping into a big knee. But more than anything, he uses a very long jab and a straight right that are his major weapons, and he'll be trying to find out ways to set those up.

Q: You lost two of your last three fights before retiring although both were to Chuck Liddell. Does your fight record concern you at all? People are always focused on those sorts of things, but as a fighter, do those numbers mean anything to you?
A: What's my record? I don't even know what it is. It doesn't matter. Going out and competing, sometimes you compete well and you still lose. Sometimes it boils down to one slip, one mistake that turns the fight. So I don't get carried away with that extraneous stuff. It's all about staying focused on the things you can control and performing.

Q: You signed a four-fight deal with UFC that would take you to the time you're 45 years old. Do you feel you'll fight through that entire contract or will you take it one fight at a time?
A: I've taken it one fight at a time since I started this business, so I don't see that changing. I'm not going to fight four times just because I have four on my contract. When I retired last year, I had two fights left sitting on my contract at that time. That doesn't play into my thinking process. I'm going to continually evaluate how I'm performing. Especially at 43.

Q: What about the fact that you've already fought so many of the light-heavyweight contenders. Did that play into it?
A: It's all about new challenges. I probably could've pushed and gotten into the light-heavyweight division if I wanted to. But I'd be looking at pretty much the same guys. The only new guy is Quinton Jackson. This situation just felt right. It was the right opportunity; the right time in my life; the right matchup.

Q: If you were to beat Tim, it's certainly possible that the next challenger waiting in the wings is Mirko Cro Cop. What do you think of him and did you think about the possibility of facing him before making this comeback in the heavyweight division and taking this fight?
A: Him coming into the UFC certainly played into my decision to come back. That'd be an intriguing matchup. He's one of the top fighters in the world, and as a fighter, you want to try and fight the best guys. I'm not looking past Tim at all. I've got my work cut out with him. I'll get past that, and then we'll figure who's going to be next. But it doesn't hurt that he's standing back there somewhere waiting, learning cage tactics and getting up to speed.

Q: If you're one of those athletes who visualizes his performance beforehand, how do you see your fight with Sylvia ending?
A: With me having my arm raised. I've seen it go a lot of different ways, but the one common denominator is it ends with my arm raised. A knockout would be shocking. Frankly, I'm not a knockout puncher; it's not my style. Not that I don't possess the power to do that, but it's not traditionally what I'm looking for. If it came, it'd be a surprise to everybody. More than likely, it'll be a takedown and a TKO from ground and pound. There's a chance that Tim is going to scramble and try to get back up and give up position for a submission. Any of those are possibilities.


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