Randy Couture Says UFC 129 Is It; Wants To Retire On Own Terms

April 20, 2011
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Randy Couture at UFC 102

Randy Couture after UFC 102

There are plenty of examples of high-level professional athletes that have hung on past their primes, squeezing every last drop out of their competitive juices out of their careers.

Brett Favre is one recent example in the NFL that jumps to the front of most sports fans’ minds. Michael Jordan in the NBA is another.

In mixed martial arts, Chuck Liddell is the most obvious example of the “should he, shouldn’t he” retirement debate. The sirens kept calling him back to the Octagon for the last couple years of his fighting career, while even his boss, UFC president Dana White, was all but forbidding him to fight again.

Fellow UFC Hall of Famer and multi-divisional champion Randy Couture doesn’t want anyone second-guessing him when it comes time to retire, so he’s declaring it now. His fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 on April 30 will be the final bout of his illustrious career.

“I kind of wanted to go out on my own terms and decide when enough was enough. I think that time has come,” Couture said during a UFC 129 promotional call with the media on Tuesday.

“It’s just time to focus on the other things I’ve got going on in my life after this fight. I’ve pushed it pretty far and I don’t think anybody is gonna push it as far as I have the last 14 years.”

Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar at UFC 91

Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar at UFC 91

Those other things, in particular, include a burgeoning acting career. Couture has acted in several films over the years, and said he starts filming another movie sometime in May, and then will rekindle his roll alongside Sylvester Stallone in the Expendables 2, which is slated to begin filming in August.

At 47 years of age, 14 years in the cage, his thirtieth fight coming up, the question begging to be asked, however, was why now? Couture is on a three-fight winning streak. If he defeats Machida – a fighter still entrenched in the upper echelon of the light heavyweight class – he could be lining himself up for another title shot in a fight or two. Is Father Time finally catching up? Was it the lure of going out at such a landmark event, with 55,000 fans expected to attend the event in Toronto?

“(The luster of UFC 129) really played no factor in the decision. It’s really been coming for a while. I wanted to go out on my terms,” Couture said simply. “I didn’t want anybody else telling me it was time.”

Any of us cracking the point of middle age can understand. And anyone that has ever been a competitive athlete surely does. Everyone has his or her own reasons for continuing on or calling it a day, but in the mind of the casual observer, it looks much more appealing to go out as the John Elway of mixed martial arts instead of the Brett Favre. That’s obviously something that hasn’t eluded Couture’s thinking.

He will not be the Brett Favre of the sport. Mired in contractual disputes and personal struggles, Couture already declared his retirement once before. He doesn’t intend to repeat that scenario… this is it.

“Win, lose, or draw, won’t really factor into the equation,” he told MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday. “It’s about where I’m at in my life. I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s about the journey. It’s about the performance. As long as I go out and have a good performance, I’ll be satisfied and happy either way.

“I’m very happy with my life, in fact, it couldn’t be any better. I just think it’s the right time for me to hang it up and go out with this type of competition. It’s time to focus on the other things in my life and enjoy my life a little bit.”

Got something to say? Weigh in with a thought of your own in the comments section below.

Ken Pishna is the managing editor of MMAWeekly.com.
@KenPishna on Twitter or e-mail Ken a question or comment.

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  • wonggfan

    No offense to Randy, he is a legend no doubt.

    Randy has always been overrated at HW, although at LHW he was a top guy.

    He has pulled through some tough fights at HW, beating Tim Sylvia and Gabe Gonzaga. And that shows a lot about strength of Randy’s mental game.

    But at no point of his career, did Randy have a shot at Fedor. And Randy always struggled with big HWs like Ricco, Barnett, and Lesnar.

    I just can’t believe some people think Randy will beat Machida. The Machida era was short but Randy is way past his prime. Prime-Randy would have been an awesome match for Post-Machida-Era Machida.

    • jared499

      I am sorry no disrepect to you, but seriously, no chance to beat Machida, that may be streching it a lil bit. I will give you my personal opinion as far as advantages
      Strength = Randy
      Gameplan = Randy
      Wrestling = Randy
      Conditioning = Randy
      Striking = Machida
      Speed = Machida
      Submissons = Neither shown very much
      Chin = both need knocked out before
      I think he has a little bit of a chance.

      • jared499

        By the way, I would still pay money to watch Randy vs Fedor go down. Just like I did for the Shamrock vs. Ortiz fight, Ortiz vs Liddell fight. Just because I wanted to see it then and still do. If anything they are both degraded as far as skill level and would be evenly matched, especially if Fedor drops to Light Heavyweight

      • wonggfan

        Umm…why don’t I break it down.

        Age: 45 years old vs 32 years old
        Most recent fight: Rampage vs. James Toney
        Fight Before that: Shogun vs Brandon Vera
        Last meaningful win: 2 years ago (Rashad) vs. 4 years ago (Sylvia via point match)
        Last time he was a champion: 1 year ago vs. 4 years ago.

      • wonggfan

        You took “no chance” literally. He has no reasonable chance, but he does have “a” chance. Probably as much as Tito has against Shogun.

        Strength: Couture? I am not so sure about that. He has better Greco-upper body strength. But his legs and back is much weaker than Lyoto, who is extremely difficult to take down.

        Someone confirm this: Has Lyoto been taken down in the UFC? I am not sure.

  • phrankthetank

    Machida lost some of his edge when he got koed, it showed in the rampage fight. Couture always puts together a great gameplan and he’s been wanting this fight for a long time. If couture has a good night, we might see a great fight.

    • wonggfan

      I didn’t lose faith completely in Lyoto. He does look vulnerable now. But in the third round against Rampage, he finally pulled the trigger. That was the most meaningful round.

      Couture will get pwned.

      Also, Fedor is washed up but can still beat Couture. Couture can’t beat anyone in the top 15. He lost to Brandon Vera. But UFC robbed Vera.

  • illeeturbabys

    its all about who can execute gameplan th night of the fight, randys always been a game opponent, Machida aswell, they both hav weaknesses, anything can happen, and usually does, i just hope its not another draw…..ive seen too many of those recently….

  • illeeturbabys

    o and fedors not a true heavyweight, he shud b LHW he just duznt like to diet n eat properly i guess….i m sure a fight between thm would still b entertaining…

    • wonggfan

      Dude, Randy got pwned by Nog and Vera. I doubt he stands a chance against Fedor at any weight class.

  • shereko

    How did Machida do against a wrestler in the past? Doesn’t matter really since those were younger, faster wrestlers, and Rampage didn’t really wrestle him (though he beat Rashad)… Randy is smart and will dirty box him against the cage IF HE CAN, but Machida is always tough to corner, and he does have a bjj blackbelt also. I just think youth is tough to overcome. Its time to hang it up Randy, you have a good life, go live it.

    On the Randy vs Fedor fight… I think thats still something that I’d watch. Plus easier to come to a catch weight than the Fedor vs Hendo fight. Fedor needs to cut weight though and get to 205… but, sadly that will never happen. Both the Randy/Fedor era’s are done.

    • wonggfan

      Fedor had an era.

      Randy never had an era. At HW, he was pwned left and right. At LHW…well Liddell had an era which overshadowed Randy’s era.

      Randy is an awesome guy and a really good fighter who surprised people when he beat Tim Sylvia and Gabe Gonzaga.

      But anyone who still thinks he is still game is a UFC fanboy.

  • phrankthetank

    Couture is still very game, his record is the way it is because the guy has never taken an easy fight in his life (save toney). He can still get in there with the best, and while he isnt the likely victor, he still has the ability to win. I’m no fanboy, I just appreciate the facts rather than being a mindless machida fan, you probably think machida beat shogun the first time too.

    • wonggfan

      Nope. Shogun beat Machida in both fights. But I have to admit that I predicted Machida win for both fights, although I made it clear that Shogun was no joke given what he did in Pride.

      No one is a mindless Machida fan anymore. Mindless Machida fans don’t exist anymore.

  • Lodown

    Logic says Couture has to chase Machida to get ahold of him. Bad fight for Randy in his prime even. But if Randy gets his hands on Machida he can control him and get him on the ground.

  • wonggfan

    When’s the last time Machida was taken down. His clinch game is very good. He has a very good balance.

    Randy might get taken down himself. Machida’s trips and throws are very good even though he is not a wrestler.

  • ShockednAwed

    Wong, at this point, it’d probably just be easier for you to say, “Yeah, Christ, I guess Randy could win.” 😀

    Even if Machida hasn’t been taken down before (really, I don’t recall, but Rampage didn’t take him down? Shogun didn’t take him down in either bout, despite the common opinion being he won both?), I’ll come on and eat my words if Randy gets stuffed on every attempt he makes. This isn’t GSP he’s getting in the ring with, it’s a mentally-broken Machida.

    I guess I know what ya mean when you say Couture’s got no chance, and your breakdown is fair and definitely shows Machida should have the edge… I’ve just been in your shoes before, adding up the reasons for Captain America to lose, only to be stunned and amazed yet again.

    I’ve learned my lesson! 😀