(Featured Columnist) on March 30, 2011
One of only two men ever to win UFC championships at two separate weight classes, Randy Couture has admitted that his fight at UFC 129 against Lyoto Machida may be his last.
The former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion told the ESPN UFC Podcast that there is a “big chance” that the bout will mark the end of his legendary career.
Couture officially retired once before in a post-fight interview after being knocked out by Chuck Liddell at UFC 57 in February 2006. Nearly a year later, though, Couture made the announcement that he would be returning to the cage to face Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight championship.
This time around, Couture is being a bit less direct, while still strongly leaning toward retirement.
“I’m not going to be making any official announcements,” he told the ESPN UFC Podcast. “I don’t think anybody would buy it—I already did that once!”
This confession is something that fans have been assuming was coming, but even at his age, Couture remains a high-level fighter who is capable of defeating a recent UFC light heavyweight champion like Lyoto Machida.
“I’m in terrific shape, I’m feeling confident about Lyoto and dialling into the attack and how we’re going to get our hands on him. There’s a lot of other things calling me now, and there’s a chance this is the last one.”
The 47-year-old Couture made his MMA debut at UFC 13 by defeating two opponents in one night to win the heavyweight tournament. After defeating Vitor Belfort at UFC 15, Couture went on to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship in December 1999 by defeating Maurice Smith.
In his Hall of Fame career, Couture has fought a total of 23 times inside the Octagon, including a legendary series against Chuck Liddell and a monumental defeat of Tim Sylvia to become the UFC heavyweight champion nearly 10 years after winning it the first time.
But as he nears 50-years-old, Couture admits that the daily abuse his body has taken is starting to take its toll.
“Frankly, I’m tired of grinding it out, it’s time to enjoy life,” he declared.
Many fans assumed that a victory over Machida would put Couture in the conversation for a title shot against newly crowned UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones, but Couture doesn’t seem very interested in the prospects of that fight.
“I don’t know if that’s the kind of battle that I need in this stage of my life, and it would definitely be a battle,” Couture stated.
UFC 129 will mark “Captain America’s” 24th UFC appearance, a number which will tie Matt Hughes as the most in the company’s history.