by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s been ten months since Randy “The Natural” Couture called it a day on his MMA fighting career and still he’s one of the most buzzed about fighters in the world. And unlike other retirees, Couture isn’t sitting around the house in a funk, he’s as active as ever and there’s more to come in 2007 from the man known as “Captain America.”
In part two of our two-part interview with Randy he speaks in detail about the things keeping him busy outside the cage, his thoughts on the evolution of MMA and he gives his breakdown of the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship match between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz at UFC 66.
MMAWeekly: As you told us earlier, you’ve been busy with your nutritional line, Couture Nutrition; tell us a bit about that.
Randy Couture: I’m really excited about the nutritional line of supplements. I got the opportunity to partner up and do a line that represented what I liked and what I used when I competed and what I wished I had when I was competing. We’ve got five products on the market right now…one of which is the greens that the put into capsule form, so you don’t have to taste them or mix them anymore, [laughs] they travel a little easier and they’re just as effective.
We came out with a joint formula, which is something I use a lot of…it works with a natural anti-inflammatory, [it’s] not only for joints but muscles as well I’m really excited about it. We did kind of an energy drink that’s designed to help you get through your hard workouts and help you recover.
We’re coming out with a new thing that will help guys in weight class sports like ours…it’s strip technology like the Listerine/breath strips, except it’s electrolytes, so when you can’t afford to drink eight ounces of Gatorade, you can just put a strip in your mouth. It doesn’t weigh anything and you still have electrolytes on board to help you hydrate and maintain your strength from cutting weight and sweating a lot, it’s a pretty cool product. Overall I think our products are more designed for the athletes and it’s doing really well.
MMAWeekly: What about some of your other endeavors since you’ve been retired, such as commentating and the Legends Training Center you started with Bas Rutten?
Randy Couture: Commentating has been pretty fun. I’ve got the best seats in the house and I get to give the athletes perspective of what’s going on in the cage, and I enjoy that.
The training centers are coming on-line, Legends in Hollywood is doing really well and the two new Couture Extreme Training Centers coming up in Vancouver and Vegas are going to be really, really nice. The Vegas gym has the capability to become kind of the Mecca of MMA training centers, at 11,000 square feet, a full cage and ring, and all the facilities we have. I’m really excited about all those prospects.
I actually got to do a little bit of acting, which has been fun. I was in Invincible with Mark Wahlberg and just did a Rob Schneider film called Big Stan, which hasn’t been released yet. That’s coming out pretty quick here in the next few months; it was a lot of fun.
MMAWeekly: So call the Academy and have them polish up an Oscar for you huh?
Randy Couture: [Laughs] I don’t know if I’d go that far…I’m having a good time anyway.
MMAWeekly: Tell us about the commission program that you’ve gotten involved in with current UFC employee/former NSAC Executive Director Marc Ratner.
Randy Couture: Well our sport is sanctioned in 22 states, so there’s obviously another 28 that haven’t sanctioned the sport, and so that leaves openings for somebody to throw a show in a state that isn’t regulated and get somebody hurt. Obviously that would reflect on all of us, so what we wanted to do is create a level playing field, get unified rules sanctioned with commissions in every state in the US, Canada, and some of the other countries that are jumping on board right now. We want to show everybody that the sport is safe, it’s not brutal, it’s a very viable, fun to watch sport. Not only that, a lot of these state athletic commissions will see a lot of revenue come in from this sport.
There are already shows going on in those states, they might as well regulate it, bring in revenue and make sure that none of those fighters are being exploited or put into danger by being involved in a show that’s not taking the proper precautions and rules. I think that’s first and foremost what’s going on with hiring Marc Ratner and starting this sanctioning program.
MMAWeekly: What’s it been like working with Marc?
Randy Couture: Marc’s a great guy. He’s very personable, has a great reputation and a lot of integrity. He’s a hard working guy, so my experience working with him has been good. I’m just now getting on board with this whole program, so I’m looking forward to spending more time with Mark this next year and seeing new shows everywhere.
Like in Montreal with our new Champion, Georges St. Pierre, or England, Great Britain has accepted the sport and sanctioned there, but Europe is kind of wide-open, there’s a lot of places in Europe that are interested in throwing shows. I’m excited to see the sport grow and to establish a strong foundation for this sport and taking it across our country and across the world.
MMAWeekly: It sounds so amazing to hear you say that, considering how far the sport has come since the days you first got involved in it years ago.
Randy Couture: This whole thing – these last four years has been amazing ride – to see the sport tear down all the walls and misconceptions that it’s been under, the stigmas and negative attitudes around it. To be an athlete in, or around, this sport right now is remarkable.
MMAWeekly: This coming weekend two men you’re very familiar with will be meeting for the UFC Light-Heavyweight Title at UFC 66 in Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Tell us your thoughts on the fight.
Randy Couture: I think it’s going to be a good competitive fight. Both guys are game fighters and there’s no love lost between them at this stage in their careers, so neither one wants to think about the possibility of losing to the other, which is pretty motivating. On the technical side, I think that if you look at the fights Chuck’s lost in the last couple years; it’s been against guys that have been able to take him down and make him work on the ground. Quinton Jackson managed to do it, in my first fight with him I was able to do it – those are the style of fighter that gives him trouble. Tito Ortiz has that kind of style.
The problem that Tito has is he doesn’t favor the idea of engaging Chuck in a range of exchanges where he can hit, be hit and be able to get his hands on him and take him down. Quinton was able to do that [to Chuck], I was able to do that in our first fight, which made the takedown possible and made it successful – it wore him down. I’m not sure if Tito can do that, but I think what he has to do to win. Whether or not he can get over his psychological issue with Chuck and Chuck’s power and his unwillingness to trade with anybody is going to be the huge issue.
I will say that Chuck is under the pressure here. He’s the one that has to live up to sustaining another knockout, performing the way he’s been performing. He’s absolutely at the top of his game but he is under a lot of pressure to repeat and perform again. That can be tough as the champ, so how he handles that, is he taking this seriously, is he just thinking he’s just going to walk through Tito, is the questions in my mind with Chuck.
I’m sure he’s trained hard and I think the last thing he wants to do is lose this fight to Tito and hear Tito run his mouth. I think ultimately the night comes down to Chuck finding his range and landing that shot in the early rounds…if Tito can make him work and get to the later rounds he has a chance.
MMAWeekly: Sounds like you feel it has the potential to be something special.
Randy Couture: It’s absolutely going to be a great fight. It’s probably going to be the biggest fight in the history of our sport. Being the day before New Year’s, and the personas the guys bring into the cage, and the hype surrounding this fight is going to make it huge. It sold out in half an hour at the MGM Grand, if that’s any indication of what it’s going to be like right before New Year’s, it’s going to be nuts.
MMAWeekly: Great stuff Randy, is there anything you’d like to say as we close out this two-part interview?
Randy Couture: I’m just happy to be here, be part of the sport and be contributing. I appreciate all the fans’ support in this year of retiring. They’ve been really gracious to me and it’s been really nice to be involved and feel that from everybody, I appreciate it.
MMAWeekly: And hopefully next year we’ll see you busting out all over the place even more right?
Randy Couture: [Laughs] We’ll see…I hope so.
MMAWeekly: Better let Bas know he’s got more competition on the way.
Randy Couture: [Laughs] Bas is my partner in Legends, we’re good friends – so if anything I’m learning from him and taking lessons from him.