After two straight fights going to decision, Ryan Couture was able to step up his game and finish Connor Heun in what was his biggest fight to date at last weekend’s Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey.
“This was the best prepared I’ve ever felt going into a fight,” said Couture. “Obviously, to be taking such a big step up in competition against such a tough guy, it felt really good to get in there and control the majority of the fight and get the stoppage.
“I didn’t expect to give up takedowns quite so easy, but I was able to defend myself and reverse position. In the stand-up, the footwork and angles we had worked on paid off and I was able to frustrate him and do some damage. The positioning that we’d worked on from the top obviously paid off as well and lead to the finish.”
Couture told MMAWeekly.com that his win over Heun signifies a move towards the next level of his career.
“This is just the first big step into realizing that I belong at this level and that I can compete with these guys in a very deep weight class,” he said. “There’s only going to be more improvements down the line. I’ve still have a lot to learn and there are going to be even tougher challenges to come.
“This step was an important one for me confidence-wise and it proves to people that I do belong and that I’m going to be here for a while. Some people may have thought that Connor was too much too soon for me, so it was good to go out there and prove them wrong.”
It would be understandable if there were a great desire to push Couture after such a solid win and capitalize on his famous name and early career success, but that’s not how he, or his famous namesake, wants to steer his career at this time.
“I kind of knew what I was getting into following in the old man’s footsteps,” said Couture of his UFC Hall of Fame father, Randy Couture. “I knew there were a lot of potential pitfalls to watch out for. Thankfully I have (Randy) and my manager, Sam, looking out for me and my best interests to make sure I take the right fights and not get into rushed into anything I should get into.”
It’s with that philosophy in mind that Couture plots out what he wants to accomplish in the foreseeable future.
“(I’m headed) back into the gym and get ready for the next one,” he said. “I’m hoping things will fall in place for me to fight in May. I’m not sure what (Strikeforce’s) plans are, but that would be ideal for me.
“There are no easy fights, so (I’ll) just be ready to work hard and go out there and perform every time and the rest will take care of itself. If I can get myself into title contention next year, that’d be fantastic, but I’m not putting any pressure (on myself) to do that. I just want to continue to improve and grow.”