Randy Couture is a mixed martial arts fighter and boxer. He is the first to hold two Ultimate Fighting Championship titles in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. He is regarded as a master strategist in boxing. Couture began acting in 2003, taking a small part in the film Cradle 2 the Grave and acting as himself on the hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter.
Early Life and Career
Mixed martial arts fighter, sports commentator, actor and businessperson Randy Couture was born on June 22, 1963, in Lynnwood, Washington. Known as "The Natural" and "Captain America," Couture has become a legend in the world of mixed martial arts fighting. He developed an interest in mixed martial arts at the age of 10 and went on to become a skilled wrestler. After graduating from high school, Couture joined the U.S. Army. He spent six years in the service.
An Olympic hopeful, Couture was selected as an alternate for the U.S. Wrestling Team for the 1988, 1992, and 1996 Summer Games. He also worked at Oregon State University as an assistant wrestling and strength conditioning coach. At the age of 33, Couture began his professional fighting career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 1997. He made his debut in May that was billed as UFC 13, during which he defeated two heavyweight opponents—Tony Halme and Steven Graham.
Mixed Martial Arts Champion
At UFC 15, Couture knocked out opponent Vitor "Phenom" Belfort for his third straight win. His hot streak continued with a decision win over Maurice Smith for the heavyweight title in December 1997. After this victory, Couture ended up losing his next two matches—against Enson Inoue and then Mikhail Illoukhine—by submission.
In late 2000 and early 2001, Couture participated in a series of matches as part of the King of Kings II tournament in Japan. He first defeated Jeremy Horn by unanimous decision and then won his match with Ryushi Yanagisawa by majority. After another unanimous decision in his favor in his fight against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Couture advanced to his final fight at the tournament. He lost to Valentijn Overeem, having to surrender while being caught in Overeem’s guillotine choke hold. Describing his experiences in Japan, Couture explained to the Los Angeles Times that "The tournament format was tough. You could prepare for the guy you’d fight first, but you didn’t know who was coming next. Another thing that made it tough was the fatigue factor if you had to go the distance your first fight, but your opponent had a first-round win."
In between his King of Kings fights, Couture had recaptured his heavyweight title from Kevin Randleman by a knockout at UFC 28. He had been stripped of his title previously. Moving on to fight in the light heavyweight division, Couture won that division's title by defeating Chuck Liddell in June 2003. In September, Couture went up against another light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. In a unanimous decision, Couture became the undisputed light heavyweight champion.
Outside of the octagon, Couture—one of the most popular figures in the sport—branched out into acting. He landed some small parts in such films as Cradle 2 the Grave (2003). For the UFC, Couture has served as an announcer for many fights. He also appeared as himself on the hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, which debuted in January 2005. Featuring a group of young aspiring fighters vying for a chance at the big time, the show helped expand the audience for mixed martial arts fighting and bring the UFC to the mainstream.
"I'm just like your neighbor. I just happen to fight in a cage," Couture told the Boston Globe in 2006. That same year, Couture retired after being on the receiving end of TKO at the hands of Chuck Liddell in UFC 57. He was lured back to the UFC to fight Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight title in 2007. After winning the Sylvia fight by unanimous decision, Couture next took on Brazilian fighter Gabriel Gonzaga. He held on to his title after knocking out his opponent. By October, Couture again announced his retirement. He believed that he was not fairly compensated for the Sylvia and Gonzaga fights.
Outside the Ring
That same year, Couture started helping the latest generation of fighters, opening his first training center. Right now, he has two facilities: one in Las Vegas and one in Vancouver, Canada, which both operate under the name Xtreme Couture MMA.
It is unclear whether Couture will stay retired, having expressed an interest in fighting Fedor Emelianenko. For the time being, however, he is busy pursuing other interests. Couture has been doing public appearances to support his autobiography, Becoming the Natural: My Life In and Out of the Cage, which was released in July 2008. He also continues to act and has a role in David Mamet's Redbelt (2008).
Couture lives in Las Vegas with his wife Kim and his stepson.
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