by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Randy “The Natural” Couture officially renounced his retirement last night on “Inside the UFC” on Spike TV, “I’ve just signed a new four-fight contract with the UFC.” Not only that, but the 43-year old former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion verified the news which broke on MMAWeekly Radio on Tuesday evening, “My first fight will be on March 3rd against the big man, Tim Sylvia. I’m going back after the heavyweight title.”

Today, the “big man” and current UFC heavyweight titleholder Tim Sylvia commented on the news that Couture has decided to return and challenge for his belt, “Am I surprised? Absolutely, fully surprised.” But along with that surprise came a lot of respect. Sylvia isn’t one of the many questioning the UFC Hall of Famer’s abilities as he steps back into the Octagon, “He’s Randy. He can do anything he wants. When everybody counts him out, that’s when he’s at his best.”

Sylvia did, however, disagree with Couture’s recent assessment of him. Speaking with host Joe Rogan on “Inside the UFC,” Couture exclaimed that, “I think in the Monson fight, [Sylvia] showed a conservative attitude that’s not going to get him where he wants to be ultimately. He fought not to lose instead of going out and fighting to win. He could have finished that fight.”

“I don’t agree with that,” said Sylvia. “I go out there to win. I wanted to knock [Monson] out, but he wouldn’t stand and trade with me. He was trying to go to the ground all five rounds.” The champ continued, “I defended his takedowns. I tried to finish the fight several times on the ground and the triangle was tight, I really thought I had him there. I always go out there trying to finish the fight.”

But that is really neither here nor there come March 3rd in Ohio when the two step into the Octagon together and the cage door slams shut. The bigger question now is what Sylvia brings to this fight when the two collide. “My size, my reach, my striking ability… he’s been knocked out twice by Liddell. Chuck and I are a lot alike. I believe I’ll knock him out,” responded Sylvia.

Obviously, both men see something that leads them to believe they will walk out of the Octagon the champion on March 3rd, but there is still a lot of respect between these two world-class athletes. “I consider [Tim] a friend, but that won’t preclude me from going out and getting after him,” Couture stated last night.

Just as respectful, Sylvia was also just as confident. “Randy is a great fighter. I even called him and wished him the best of luck. And he’s still going to be a great fighter after the fight,” said Sylvia before adding, “But he wants to take my belt from me and that is something that I will not allow.”