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.”
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.”
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