Interview by Matt Shickell, April 2004
First off how is the eye?
Couture : Good.. healed up. I've been cleared for about 2 months to
train and spar, so I've been getting ready to go again, hopefully in August.
Oh right August?? RC: August, September kind of time frame. Rematch with Belfort.
You said that you were ready to fight in April didn't you?
Randy Couture : I would have preferred to
fight in April
Are you frustrated at having to wait that long?
Couture : Nah.. y'know... I don't care. I'll do whatever. He didn't
really want to step up that quickly.. I was hoping for June.. that'd he'd be ready
to go, but he wanted to wait until the end of the summer. As long as he does it,
Did you consider taking a fight with anyone else whilst you were waiting?
Couture : They really didn't have anyone else that they wanted me to
MS: Ok.. I guess... yeah. How do you think Vitor compares now as a fighter to
he did when you first fought him?
Couture : I think he's considerably better than he was then.. but that
comes in maturity. He's a lot more focussed, he's a lot more centred, which makes
him better prepared. He's figured out his style a little more, and he's a little
more of a counter puncher, and he kinda bides his time, moves away, and tries
to draw you in and then explodes with that ability, that athletic ability that
he has. So I think he's a little more dangerous now.. even as dangerous as he
was back then, he still possesses that, but uses it a little more selectively.
He doesn't rely on that completely, he's put together some other things to go
How do you think he is mentally now?
How do you think he is mentally now?
Randy Couture : I was going to say about his
sister now, but I think the mental question still needs to be answered.
Couture : And if I can go out and really make it tough on him... I
think I can push through him, and find a way to win.
So hows Team Quest coming along?
Couture : Kicking butt...
MS: You got many up and coming fighters coming out?
Randy Couture : We've got some REALLY good
fighters coming out... a kid named Chris Leben in the 185lbs class is knocking
people out, obviously Matt
Linland and Evan Tanner...
Whats happening with Matt now?
Randy Couture : Well.... there just kinda
putting that on hold.... I don't really understand it. They've put him on hold..
they're of the opinion that he's not exciting enough, and they don't have anybody
that they want to see him fight right now. We're kinda frustrated at that, but
we've got to deal with it. We're trying to get him into Bushido, or somewhere
else.. so we can get him work and get him fights and help.. you know.. he wants
to continue to fight and make it.
Right.. so you've got people that we're going to start seeing soon..
Couture : Yeah.. Chael Sonnen just fought in that M1, that Russian
MS: Oh right.. how did he do?
Randy Couture : He had a great performance
in the 205lb weight class.. we've got some real good young kids that are working
Ok.. so.. where was it first time you fought.. was it UFC 13?
Randy Couture : Yes
That was your first ever mma fight?
Randy Couture : Yeah..
How did you feel going into that?
Couture : Arr.. I was scared shitless!!
I can imagine you were yeah
Randy Couture : Great big 300lb guys
MS: Who was that black guy you fought that was absolutely huge?
Couture : Steve Graham.. yeah.. haha.. I was not sure what I had got
myself into. But of course it went very well.. I managed to kinda open my eyes
and put a lot of skills... tune those wrestling skills that made me successful
in those early shows.
That was a big turning point for the UFC wasn't it.. where you started to get
trained fighters through rather than brawlers
Couture : Yeah.. that was the transition I think.. with cross training
starting to take place. And the level of athelete went way up.
You say that most of the preparation for a fight is mental.. have you ever gone
into a fight feeling unprepared? Was UFC 13 one of them?
Couture : No... I wasn't sure what to expect, so I wasn't to know if
I was prepared or not (laughing). And then since then, I haven't been in any fight
that I have felt unprepared for. I think if anything err.. in the Ricco fight
I was over prepared.. I trained too hard. And consequently wore down in the later
rounds. I learned a valuable lesson, and its been kind of an ongoing process of
finding that fine line between over doing it and doing enough, and peaking at
the right time is a big part of the equation. So.. the rest is just as important
as the time that you spend beating each other up.
Do you wish now that you had always competed at light heavy weight rather than
starting at heavy weight?
Couture : Well... umm... no... I don't regret my fights at heavy weight...
I think that.. those fights helped me be a more effective light heavyweight now.
I think at the time it was a little more prestigious to fight in the heavy weight
division, and then the light heavyweight slowly grew into being the marquee divison,
largely because of Tito and Chuck.. so yeah.. I kinda enjoyed competing at heavyweight...
eat whatever the hell you wanted
And not have to cut any weight.. Who's idea was it to go down to light heavyweight?
Was it your own?
Randy Couture : Umm.. I had friends "You need
to go down to light heavyweight... these guys are too big.. y'know.. you used
to wrestle at 198.. you should be fighting at 205. Somebody needs to shut Tito
up.. why don't you go down and do it" and all that kind of stuff from my friends.
And after the Ricco fight it made a lot of sense.. the guys were just getting
too big in the heavy weight division. And they're not just big guys like the first
guys I fought.. they know how to fight.. and weight becomes a huge advantage.
I always think that as you go up in weight classes, you know, you go from 170
to 185 to 205, and then thats a big jump up to 265 isn't it..
Couture : Yeah..
If your kind of a 220lbs guy
Randy Couture : Your stuck in the middle
MS: Thats not a good position to be in is it (laughing)
Randy Couture : No... no. You've got to find
ways to capitalise on your advantages, your mobility and stuff, but err.. thats
still not an even track..
No.. thats still a big guy your trying to push around. So when you came down to
205, how confident were you of beating Chuck?
Couture : Well.. I felt that I had been in with some of the best strikers
in the heavyweight division, and they didn't knock me out
MS: As in Pedro...
Couture : Yeah.. Pedro Rizzo, Maurice Smith, Belfort.. you know.. some
pretty good punchers... and they didn't manage to knock me out.. and I believe
thats possible at any time, to get knocked out, but I felt pretty confident that
I could go out and take Chuck down and work on him, and wanted to take a little
more agressive approach with him than a lot of people did with him.. a lot of
people let him control the tempo of the fight and backed up and countered so he
could pick his moments to land those big shots, and so decided if he was going
to knock me out, I was going to get right in his face, and make him do it.. and
fortunately for me that worked.. that gameplan threw him completely.. he didn't
expect that really expect me to be that effective in that fight.
And what about Tito.. how confident were you going into that?
Couture : Again I said all along, that anything he did, I could do
just that little bit better, and it was going to come down to wrestling. I watched
all of his matches, 99% of them he won by taking the guy down and getting on top.
And I was sure that there was no way, without a real struggle, he was going to
take me down. And it came down to who got that top position. So I worked real
hard on creating scrambles and actually learning from Chuck in being able to pop
back up from the ground, not conceeding to fighting from the bottom. It was real
difficult, and again, it worked. I managed to take him down. I think to some extent
broke his spirit within that first three minutes when he worked so hard on trying
to get me down, but.. he didn't get it, he spent all that energy trying to get
it, and it was at that point where things went my way.
You said that there's noone for you to fight apart from Vitor... once you've fought
Vitor, who then? Is there still a chance of you and Vanderlei?
Couture : There's always an outside chance..
Would that be the ring or the cage?
Randy Couture : I don't care.. whatever the
two federations could agree on would be fine by me. Just make it happen. But I'm
not real hopeful that its gonna happen.. so its a pipe dream.
Ok.. Who has been your toughest opponent?
Couture : The Pedro Rizzo fight the first time was definitely the toughest
fight I have been in to date. Even with the Ricco fight getting hurt, and the
Belfort fight getting hurt, that is THE toughest fight.. 5 rounds of just brawling...
that I have ever been in. I was so tired at the end of that fight.. I was just
like ohhh my god (laughing). My leg swelled up.. I couldn't walk for about 3 weeks
Couture : No... I have a big divot in my quad where he kicked me.
So how did you change your training going into the second one?
Couture : I learned to check kicks.. and studied that first fight,
and realised that my aggressive fighting style was what allowed him to do that.
Every time I stepped in to hit him or throw a punch or a combination or try to
take him down, he kicked me or punched me and did something to me. Then I went
back and analyzed his other fights, and realised, especially the Kevin Randleman
fight.. neither guy was really willing to engage, he had a lot of trouble executing
an offence and being aggressive himself... relied completely on the other guys
aggression to get off his offence. So when I figured that out, I changed my balance,
and worked with Mo Smith on my kick boxing a lot, and then just tried to be real
patient with him, make him wait, I wasn't gonna move into that range until I was
willing to go all the way through and get my hands on him. Didn't try to do any
open shots, because the open shots were a waste of time, he's all hips and legs,
and really hard to takedown, good sprawl. But I figured that if I could get an
underhook, if I could get in and get into the clinch, I could take him down from
the clinch pretty easily. And err.. by the third round I took him down, and the
fight was over. He'd already had a cut from the second round, and he couldn't
MS: I heard a rumour that you were offered to fight in Pride?
Randy Couture : Yeah.. they kinda made a non-exclusive
offer, that they'd like to have me fight over there, we could pick the opponents
and fight two fights in a years period over there, but UFC weren't gonna allow
that if they were gonna sign me to a new contract, it was gonna be exclusively
with them. Especially considering that I'm kinda in title contention all of the
time. And they are taking care of me very well, so monitarily it didn't make a
lot of sense for me to go to Pride.
Ok.. one last question.. Tito and Chuck.. who do you reckon?
Couture : Err... I'm leaning towards Chuck. I think for a couple of
reasons. The nice thing about this fight is that you could make a case for either
guy, you think they're both that good that.. its gonna be a great fight. But err..
Chuck is hard as hell to hold down. Titos best game is still to get on top and
pound down, and I don't think he is going to be able to do that to Chuck. I think
that Tito has shown in a couple of fights that his chin is a little suspect. He's
had a couple of flash situations..
Do you think that Chuck can KO Tito?
Couture : Yes. I think that if Chuck can keep popping back up, I think
that eventually he will have the opportunity to catch Tito. If Chuck has a weakness,
its that he's not always in that great'a shape. This is a three round fight, and
Tito is going to come out and go all out because he's used to training for a five
round fight. But I haven't seen Chuck this relaxed.. he's got rid of his girlfriend,
he's a lot more focussed, he's a lot more relaxed, and seems to be enjoying it
a lot more than he has in the past... so I'm leaning towards Chuck.
Thanks very much
Couture : Thanks