COLUMN: Natural Selection – Randy Couture In 2008


Natural Selection

Randy Couture in 08′

Written By:'s Rich Davidson

Randy Couture would beat you in a fight. Three rounds, five rounds, it wouldn’t matter.

The argument could certainly be made that Randy Couture would beat Fedor Emelianenko, Pride heavyweight champion and consensus pound-for-pound best in the sport.

Unfortunately, we are just about as likely to see Randy Couture beating up you, the reader, as we are to seeing the single greatest fight in mixed martial arts history.

So many articles and stories have been published regarding Emelianenko signing with upstart mixed martial arts promotion M-1. On the same token, there have also been countless articles, stories, videos, and interviews regarding the Randy Couture/UFC conundrum/on going soap opera. It would be grossly redundant to touch on those points at this time.

More important is the future of current UFC heavyweight champion Randy “The Natural” Couture and possible scenarios for him in the new year.

UFC president Dana White, as arrogant and unprofessional as he may come off to the casual fan, is not a dumb man. His signings, acquisitions, expansion plans, marketing strategy and business sense are all worth mentioning. He helped save the sport. Thank him, don’t hate him. More than anything, you would have to be blind not to see that the man is above all else a true fan who usually knows what he’s talking about.

All White controversies and infamous quotes aside, he brought up a genuine point about Fedor Emelianenko in a recent interview. Zulu Jr., Mark Coleman, Mark Hunt, and Matt Lindland are his most recent opponents. Zulu Jr. is essentially nobody, with a less than sterling career record of two wins and three losses. Not only is Mark Coleman too old to fight a younger, stronger, better fighter like Emelianenko, he doesn’t possess the skill set to even pose a threat. Mark Coleman is NOT Randy Couture. Mark Hunt, a K-1 kickboxer who’s made a solid transition to MMA, is not in the same league as the Russian. Watching that fight, Hunt legitimately challenged for the title and scared Emelianenko fans more than once.

Matt Lindland is a great fighter with ever improving skills, but he’s a middle-weight. Not a heavyweight (206 lbs+) , not a light-heavyweight (186-205lbs) but a middle-weight (171-185 lbs)

Fedor Emelianenko often wears his trademark t-shirt in public. On this t-shirt, there’s a big `Number 1′, and the quote “nobody beats me”. That’s because you haven’t fought anybody genuinely good since 2005.
Dana White said it best.

Randy Couture is the best heavyweight fighter in the world.

The problem is, he’s not getting any younger. We’ve heart that old adage regarding Couture a million times, and it’s never been more true than now. Ironically, Couture is seriously in his prime. He’s never been as strong, as fit, and as well rounded as he is right now. He’s beaten handily two behemoth young fighters in former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia and his most recent foe, Gabriel Gonzaga. Couture out-boxed, out-wrestled, out-grappled, and out-thought both opponents. Tim Sylvia is a terribly underrated heavyweight, and Gabriel Gonzaga is a monster that holds a brutal knockout over possibly the greatest striker in MMA history, Mirko CroCop.

Realisitcally, and to a degree, “The Natural” came out of retirement for the money. The sooner fans realize this, the sooner the healing process can begin. The huge paydays the likes of which Chuck Liddell, Mirko CroCop, Matt Hughes, and Wanderlei Silva receive were simply unheard of before Couture retired in early 2006. It’s not a crime to want to be paid well in a sport that has been turning a ridiculous profit, especially when you’ve done as much for MMA and the UFC as Randy Couture has.

Randy Couture came back to the sport he loves for simply that reason. He loves to compete. He was a competitive wrestler, a competitive fighter, a competitive coach, and a competitive business man. Couture wanted to fight Emlianenko for the unified heavyweight title because he loves competing and winning.

More than likely, that fight is dead in the water.

And if Randy Couture wanted to be a movie star, he would have stayed retired.

Two things have to happen in order for Couture to return to the sport in 2008, because it obviously won’t happen before then. For one, UFC management and Randy Couture have to `patch things up’ and put aside their differences. It wouldn’t be the first time, and weirder things have certainly happened. Tito Ortiz and BJ Penn are the best examples of this.

Couture must also accept the fact that a fight with Fedor Emelianenko is simply not in the cards right now. It happens. Chuck Liddell v.s Wanderlei Silva has been in the works since Pride’s 2003 middleweight grand prix, and only now is that match-up finally coming to fruition.

In the best case and I hope most likely scenario, it may yet still occur to “The Natural” that there are great fights out there for him. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Andrei Arlovski, Cheick Kongo, Mirko CroCop, and even a Tim Sylvia rematch are all great match-ups not only for the sport but also for Randy Couture’s legacy.

Don’t believe everything you read and hear in the media. Don’t choose sides. Don’t think something is irreparable, especially in the case of a long and storied history between Randy Couture and the UFC.

Don’t be surprised if you see Randy Couture back in the UFC in 2008 doing the right thing, defending his heavyweight title and giving MMA fans the fights that they really want to see.

`Till next time.


Want to contact Rich Davidson regarding the above opinion-piece? E-mail him today by clicking here.


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