Ryan Couture is gearing up for the toughest fight of his career. When he meets Conor Heun in the cage on Saturday night, he’s almost assured a grueling brawl. Speaking this week with the son of UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy Couture, who is blazing his own trail in MMA as one of the sport’s top prospects, the veteran-like confidence and focus he displayed was immediately evident. The grounded 29-year-old says he is not taking anything for granted in this fight, and that he has prepared himself to go the distance with a very formidable opponent.
Here’s what the well-rounded Strikeforce prospect had to say:
On Heun’s emotional investment in the fight:
“I know Conor’s a real intense guy, and he brings that intensity into the cage, so we knew we were in for a fight when we signed this one. Everybody’s different, but I know for me, personally, if I was fighting on that much emotion and aggression, it wouldn’t play out well for me, but it seems to have worked well for him. Obviously, he’s had a lot of success in his career, and it seems that’s the head space he needs to get into to perform his best. It’s working for him, so I wouldn’t criticize it.”
On the underestimation of his submission skills:
“People put a lot of weight on belt level, and the fact that he’s a high ranking guy under Eddie [Bravo], who’s so well respected. I have a lot of respect for that system, as well. Having fought Sean Bollinger — another one of Eddie’s black belts — as an amateur, I know those guys are no joke. I’ve got to be ready for that, but I train hard, and I’m very confident in my ground game. I think we match up well. From what I’ve been hearing, his plan is to try and drag me into a brawl and keep the fight standing, so it’ll be interesting to see how this thing plays out. I know I’m going to be exhausted at the end of that 15 minutes, but I’m planning to come out of it with my hand raised.”
On his fight expectations:
“I would always prefer to finish it quick. It minimizes the chance of me getting injured and having any kind of a layoff. It’s just nice to get in there and get it over with, but my expectation, just knowing how tough and durable and scrappy Conor is, is that we’re going to have to go the distance in this fight, and I’m ready for that, too. It’s almost more satisfying when you go deep into the fight and are able to come out and win the fight that way, even though physically, it’s really demanding, but there’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes along with that. Given my choice between the two, I’d rather get the quick finish.”
On the respect he has for Heun:
“I’ve got nothing but respect for Conor. I’ve watched him fight for the last couple years, and always been impressed with that mentality and heart that he brings to the cage, and he seems to be a nice guy, although he can be a little out there sometimes. He’s into some different things than I am, but he seems to be a pretty likable guy, and I got no problem grabbing a beer with him after we finish beating each other up.”
On Strikeforce’s promotion of undercards:
“I think it would have maybe been wise to spend a little more time and effort on promoting some of the undercard fights, just because it’s such a stacked card. I think this card is just being known as this big women’s fight, but there are a lot of really good match-ups on the undercard. I think they could’ve gotten some mileage out of pushing the Thomson and Noons fight. That’s going to be a great fight. Even on the prelims, Pat Healy and Caros Fodor, and my fight, as well, are all compelling match ups that would draw some interest. I definitely wouldn’t criticize the way it’s been marketed. I think they did a really good job promoting that particular fight, but I think they had a lot more interesting match ups on the card that they could’ve used as well, to draw even more eyes to it. Sean Shelby did such a great job putting together this card, that it’s kind of a bummer to not see the whole card, top to bottom, get as much attention as that one fight.”
Ryan Couture vs. Conor Heun goes down this Saturday, March 3, in Ohio, and will be broadcast on Showtime Extreme. The match-up has all the markings of Fight of the Night, and should set the pace leading into the rest of the stacked card. Hopefully it meets expectations and brings the undercards more buzz in the not-to-distant future like they deserve.