(UFC 129 will be bittersweet for Couture fans.)
All good things must come to an end, and according to Randy Couture, so to must his career.
The 48-year-old UFC Hall-of-Famer who time and time again has defied the odds and laughed in the face of Father Time to win championships and fights he was meant to lose, says that win, lose or draw, his UFC 129 bout against Lyoto Machida will be his last.
“I believe this is my last fight,” Couture told ESPN.com’s Josh Gross on Monday. “I know the UFC is probably going to have other ideas, especially with acquiring Strikeforce and all that. They’re probably going to try to draw me into another fight but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I want to stick to my guns and this is the last one.”
What better venue for Couture, whose final bout will be the 30th of his storied career, to bid the sport adieu than Toronto’s Rogers Centre in front of 55,000-plus fans.
There’s no doubt that “The Natural” could continue to compete and that he has as good a chance of anyone at upsetting the former UFC light heavyweight champion, Machida to earn contendership status, but according to Couture, he wants to leave the sport on a high note.
“I will miss the competition immensely but I want to go out on my terms,” Couture said. “I want to go out when I think it’s time to go out and not because I lost this fight or lost that fight or because I had an injury that precludes me from training the way I want to train. I want to make the decision on my own.”
The former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, whose focus will shift to acting after his fight with Machida, says he has no plans of stepping away from the sport completely. Besides taking on an active role in championing fighters’ rights causes when needed, and transitioning back into an analyst’s role like he did with The Fight Network in Toronto the last time he retired, Couture says will continue to train and operate his Vegas-based Xtreme Couture gym and to mentor and coach his stable of fighters, including Martin Kampmann, Mike Pyle and his son, Ryan.