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Randy Couture & UFC 129: Facing Father Time

By Ben Bieker

Redefinition is the one word that must be at the forefront of Randy Couture’s vocabulary. Over year’s multiple pundits, fans, and friends have told Randy his career was over and to never step inside the 8-sided cage again, and multiple times he has proved them wrong.

Now, his impending meeting with Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 I am sure he will hear it all over again. I have even seen many comments on MMA forums, in which fans state Machida will run through Couture, and that Couture has no chance at winning. Plus, to be honest it is hard to think that a 47 year old a man could be in his athletic prime, but the truth is Couture is not just any 47 year old man.

Past accomplishments could be plastered in this article, and it would honestly probably take a whole page just to write down all that Couture has accomplished in his life. But the bottom line is if you’re a fan of MMA you probably know everything that he has done over his career. The one thing that you should take away when looking at his past is that he strives when the underdog, proves everyone wrong when they think he is done, and is the one person most fighters would not want to meet in the cage.

That is why I wonder why he is coming back to the cage. What does the UFC gain from Couture stepping back in the cage, even though he has said he has been contemplating retirement more since his last fight? Couture literally has nothing left to prove, and after beating James Toney you would feel that he might want to step away from the sport after beating a world class athlete in the one sport that always overshadowed his. It is always sad to see a fighter fight past his prime and leave on a losing streak a brutal loss. Chuck Liddell is one such fighter that is was hard for any fan to watch him get beat, multiple times in such dominating fashion, after he was the champion for so long.

So beyond having something left to prove could Couture be doing this for monetary gain? I doubt it as he has won millions of dollars fighting in this sport, and has a budding film career in which he even has the sequel to The Expendables lined up for the same time as this fight. So does the UFC have something to gain by letting Couture fight again? I propose they have more to lose.

They have bigger draws then Couture now and days, and he himself was never actually that big of a draw. The three times Couture has fought on a PPV and it has done over 500,000, he was not really the reason that so many people tuned in, or not the only reason. One had Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes on the undercard, another had GSP on the undercard, and his the last one was when he fought Brock Lesnar who has consistently been one of the biggest draws.

Do they want to give Machida a big win after his first two losses? It could be argued that Machida is a former world champion that looked like he was unstoppable until about 3 fights ago. He had a controversial decision to Mauricio Rua, then got blown out of the water in their rematch, and lastly lost a decision to Rampage Jackson. It is possible he could come out and look like a world beater again against Couture, but they actually have more to lose in Couture wins. What would a loss to Couture do to his record and his morale? Most people dropping two in a row is the touch of death, but to lose three, and to a man 15 years your elder is something many people could never come back from. Furthermore, if Couture wins what does that mean for him. Will he get the one other matchup that he wants before he retires, a match with current champion Shogun, if he gets past Rashad Evans?

That fight while intriguing has a certain scent of doom around it, and it has nothing to due to the fact of how badly Couture could lose the fight. It has to do with what happens if he wins that fight? What happens if he becomes the UFC Light-heavyweight champion again? Since there is no one left of his MMA wish list of fights to fight would he leave the sport and walk away the champion. That scenario would leave the UFC in an awkward position where they could not have a linear champion, having the current one walk away from the sport. Plus, where with a company that relies on the champion to draw and headline a PPV, to leave them without one would be a certain feeling of disrespect. Even though, if this were to happen, Couture would have all rights to retire because he would be nearing half a century.

If he did stick around he would not be able to win forever as a better fighter, and a father time itself would eventually catch up with him. I hate to see fighters stay past their welcome. To see the same fate happen to Couture that did to Liddell would be heart breaking because no one wants to see Captain America falter, especially me.

I don’t believe that Couture would stay in the sport as long as Chuck did, but at some point he has to hang it up, but only he can make that decision. Also, don’t let you think by reading this that I am against Couture continuing to fight, that is actually the opposite of how I feel. I think Couture has earned enough respect from everyone to continue his career as long as he feels he is able to, and that he continues to win.

It is to be hoped that his continued career does not eventually hurt the sport though, because he seems to be taking his career fight by fight and if he ends up in a situation where he is champion and he walks away he may be hurting the sport he helped build up.

So, as one of his biggest fans I would like to see an endgame because to be in a sport past your prime, and keeping fans in anticipation of which fight will be your last leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths. If he was to put an end date, and final fight to his career down it would make the night that much more special instead of deciding the fact a few months afterward.

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