Monday, February 26, 2007

Couture a natural-born champ!

By Victor Perea
Photo Cozzone

Former champion or not, a 43-year-old fighter has no chance of competing against today’s mixed martial arts champions.

But then there’s Randy “The Natural” Couture.

Couture, 14-8, has proved before that age is just a number.

“Of course I’ve thought about life after fighting and how well my body will work, but I feel full heartedly that if I can do it still, then why not?” Couture said last week from his Las Vegas-based training camp.

The Washington state-born, former 2-time UFC heavyweight champion, former 2-time UFC light heavyweight champion has been very busy for the past 12 months, taking full advantage of the extra time retirement allows.

“I keep myself very busy,” says Couture. “I never stopped training. I practically live at my gyms so it’s not like I’ve been sitting on the couch, eating potato chips and getting fat.”

Having retired from the sport just one year ago after losing a second time to UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell (Couture won their first encounter by TKO just 3 weeks shy of his 40th birthday), Couture refocused his livelihood by opening a new facility in his new town, Las Vegas.

Xtreme Couture, located at 4055 West Sunset, is Couture’s second such location, the other being in Vancouver, WA.

“It was a lot of work putting things together to open up the gym down here,” says Couture. “Luckily, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and it made the process go more smoothly than if I didn’t. But even with that sense of accomplishment, training both new and old fans of the sport, it wasn’t the same as being in the Octagon.”

So now the Oklahoma State University graduate, with a degree in German, has decided to return the Octagon with very high expectations of himself—by taking on the current UFC heavyweight champ, Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia (25-2).

Standing 6'8 and weighing in five pounds shy of the heavyweight limit—260—Sylvia will be looking to finish the already-inducted UFC Hall of Famer.

“This fight is really more about me proving to myself that I can do this,” says Couture. “I know I can compete in the sport still, but I want to prove that I can also be champion in the UFC—not just beat “B” level fighters.”

Couture, who has always been a crowd favorite, will still be admired and remembered as one of the most accomplished fighters to ever fight in the UFC regardless of the outcome, but Couture would like to add one more title.

“I know he’s going to come looking to knock me out and he’s got a huge reach, height and weight advantage,” says Couture. “But like in boxing, styles make fights and I am confident I have the tools and the game plan to take the fight to where it needs to be for me to win."

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