“My thoughts concerning the state of Wisconsin repealing the collective bargaining rights of public employees? I’m glad you asked…”
Several recent, seemingly unrelated news stories in the MMA world have shared a common theme- unions. It’s the lobbying efforts of one union, Dana White insists, to blame for the UFC’s failure to gain a foothold in New York. And some pessimists credit a fear of unionized fighters–more than simple altruism–for Zuffa’s decision to provide accident insurance for its fighters. With all of the talk about a potential MMA Fighters Union, we took a moment to ponder who’s likely to throw their hat in the ring for union president…
MMAPayout is reporting that Couture, who wasted little time in diversifying his post-retirement portfolio is now a minority owner of the new Fight Now! TV combat sports-themed television network and will be involved with the specialty channel to an unknown degree moving forward.
Any time you watch a 47-year-old man get kicked in the face by a levitating karate master – man, if we only had a nickel for every time that happens, right? – you have to wonder how the elder statesman is going to bounce back from it. In the case of Randy Couture, he appears to be recovering nicely. Aside from a small bruise under his eye, the newly retired “Natural” seems in great spirits when he meets up with MMA30’s Dave Fara at a gala event for the Xtreme Couture GI Foundation, which seeks to raise money for wounded vets. Couture also looks fully in control of his faculties, as evidenced when he correctly uses the word “assimilate” in casual conversation.
The teeth however, were more of a problem. In the above vid, listen to Couture discuss the five-plus hours he spent at the dentist getting his pearly-white Hollywood-level choppers realigned. All that, and he even has to go back for more. Nonetheless, The Old Man is taking it in stride, relating to Fara that Lyoto Machida put in a personal phone call to him a couple of days after the fight to make sure he was OK. Couture laughs off the Steven Seagal angle, keeps right on using the word “cat” as much as possible (which is only slightly less annoying than when guys in MMA insist on calling everyone “kid”) and even comments on rumors he personally took out Osama bin Laden. “It was a long plane ride,” says Couture. So you know, (if you’ll excuse the phrase) business as usual. Now if we could just do something about the epaulets on his dress blazer …
The rest of Couture’s quotes are after the jump, followed by a bevy of other Las Vegas-based fighters making appearances to pay homage to the 14-year vet. And damn, check out the jacket on Ray Sefo at 4:15. Looking good.
(We looked and looked, but all we could find was this photo of Jim Belushi. Pic: The Fab Life)
At this rate, we’ll never be rid of this goddamn vampire. We’d hoped for a quick and quiet departure from MMA for Steven Seagal – kind of a one-off creep-and-lurk session at UFC 126 – but now that his second straight appearance in the corner of a Black House fighter has ended in a second straight front kick knockout, we don’t see that happening. While it is still totally unclear if Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva are just fucking with us (and by extension, with him) by professing their allegiances to Seagal, this week Out for Justice himself stopped by Sherdog Radio to assure us all that this shit is deadly serious.
As part of a nearly 20-minute interview, Seagal broke down Lyoto Machida’s jumping KO of Randy Couture at last weekend’s UFC 129. You know, as much as he could without giving away all the secrets of his deadly arts. He also promised to keep working with Black House fighters on new, top-secret techniques. Worst of all, it appears he’s begun referring to Machida and Silva as “his guys.” The quotes are after the jump.
(“Let’s see here: High kick, low kick, body kick, side check kick … yep, I think I’ve got them all scouted.” Pic: LasVegasSun)
Some three days later, I’m still not sure if it makes it better or worse that Randy Couture’s MMA career ended via insane, never-before-seen crane kick knockout. On one hand, it was certainly sad to see the legend’s body slump lifelessly to the canvas after the UFC’s resident Karate Kid blasted him in the face just a minute into the second round of their bout in Toronto. On the other hand, maybe the kick really just saved us nine more minutes of watching Couture take potshots to the face at the hands of notorious counterpuncher Lyoto Machida. It had taken just a few moments after all to realize this bout wasn’t going to go Couture’s way. All 47 of his hard-earned years were apparent as we watched “The Natural” hopelessly chase Machida around the Octagon like a dog trying to hunt down its own tail for the full extent of the first round. Granted, he didn’t look Chuck Liddell-bad or anything, but the performance was enough to confirm that it’s high time for Couture to walk away – and this time to stay gone.
It got us thinking. When you’re in the game for 14 years, compile a 19-11 career record, essentially shepherd a sport from its dark ages into the white hot light of mainstream acceptance – when you are arguably the most important athlete ever to compete in your chosen field – there are going to be a few ups and downs. In light of that and by way of career retrospective for a guy who absolutely deserves one, after the jump we give you our picks for the five greatest and five worst moments in the MMA career of Randy Couture, presented here in chronological order …
All praise be to Master Steven Seagal. Or Ralph Macchio. One of the two. Lyoto Machida‘s incredible jumping front-kick KO of Randy Couture at UFC 129 netted him the event’s Knockout of the Night bonus, which came out to a whopping $129,000. (See what Dana did there?) The UFC can certainly afford it, since UFC 129′s gate revenue was reportedly $12.075 million.
Also picking up $129k bonuses: Jose Aldo and Mark Hominick (Fight of the Night) for their epic five-round featherweight title bout, and Pablo Garza for his flying triangle over Yves Jabouin in the first preliminary match.
Another look at the Machida/Couture KO is after the jump. Gifs via The Destroyer88.
(Well, *somebody’s* already got the “Creep of the Night” bonus all sewn up. Pic: UFC.tv)
What will 55,000 screaming Canadians sound like? Our best guess: Loud, but polite. That politeness may well be tested prior to tonight’s main event, when California hippie Jake Shields takes the cage. The UFC – and champion Georges St. Pierre – have gone out of their way this week to cast Shields as the biggest threat yet to St. Pierre’s dominance. That in and of itself is interesting, since a year or two ago you likely wouldn’t have been able to get anyone from the UFC to admit Shields was better than guys like Josh Koscheck or Thiago Alves for any amount of money. It is truly a new day in MMA, kids. Anyways, we’ll be live with results and commentary of the PPV card beginning at 9 p.m. EST time. Don’t forget to hit refresh early and often to keep up with the latest updates.
Weigh-ins for UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields went down yesterday at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, with all 24 fighters making weight. Well, basically. Ben Henderson hit the scales at 156.5, and was given an hour to lose that extra half-pound, which he did. Bendo didn’t look too happy being on the scale in the first place; the tough cut might be a factor in his fight against Mark Bocek. Later, Mark Hominick‘s weight was announced at 145.25. There is no one-pound allowance for UFC title fights, but the match was OK’d anyway. Possible explanations include miscommunication and the overly trusting nature of Canadians.
In other weigh-in weirdness, Lyoto Machida brought Steven Seagal with him during his face-off against Randy Couture (you can find a rather amazing photo of that moment after the jump), and Ivan Menjivar showed up with a Wolverine claw that definitely didn’t look like it came from a toy store. Just seemed kind of unsafe, that’s all.
Come back to CagePotato.com tonight for live results from the UFC 129 broadcast; remember, Spike TV prelims start at 8 p.m. ET, and the pay-per-view starts at 9.
Despite the fact that not even the guy who signs the checks believes him, Randy Couture has his story and he’s sticking to it: He’s absolutely, definitely, 100 percent retiring after UFC 129 this weekend. You know what? Through the sheer repetition of it all, we’re actually starting to think he might be serious. What you see above is Couture’s Thursday appearance on Toronto’s CP24 “Breakfast” morning show, where he reiterates that his MMA career is about to enter its final 24 hours, talks up the UFC fan expo and admits he gets a little creeped-out when fans and other fighters treat him like some kind of ageless god.
Frankly, it’s nice to see an MMA athlete get such friendly and even-handed treatment from a mainstream television show. You taking notes, American TV? Things get a little dicey there near the end, when Couture and the CP24 host disagree on exactly how awesome it is to watch the UFC in HD, but they smooth things over by giving away from some tickets to the fan expo. Oh, and maybe the best part? There are some scattered highlights of him beating up James Toney. We’d almost forgotten how goofy that was.
“No,” White responded when asked if he believed Couture’s talk about hanging up his gloves. “I’m going to go out there and say it again. I know he was chirping, he was mad at me earlier, but … Randy Couture, I’ve been saying it and you guys have been standing in front of me when I said it. This guy is one of the top 10 best in the world … Who knows with this guy? I’m not saying it’s not time for him to retire but who knows? He’s such a competitor that every time there’s something out there and he says, ‘You know what? I think I can beat this guy,’ I think he’s going to come out and try to do it.”
If you believe the odds makers, we’ll all be paying good money to watch a bunch of epic squash matches during this Saturday’s UFC 129 pay-per-view. There are a lot of long, long odds on the card this weekend and while that may not be great news for the squares watching at home, it’s enough to make any self respecting gambler’s heart go pitter-pat inside his silky, hula girl print Hawaiian shirt. When the numbers are this big you really only have two options, boys and girls: Bet heavy on the favorites in a sober attempt to turn a meager profit or throw down on the dogs in a blind smorgasbord of wanton excess. Any wonder which route we’re gonna take? That’s right, friends, we’re taking the more funner-er route. The odds themselves – from Bookmaker.com – are after the jump.
OK, before we all start dumping Haterade on Randy Couture, let us state for the record that in the following new video interview with Steve Cofield he still sounds pretty certain he’ll be retiring after UFC 129. In fact, Couture seems a little bit pissed off at this point that people keep asking him about it. Chalk it up to run-of-the-mill fight-week orneriness maybe, but we think we detect a slight edge creeping into “The Natural’s” voice when Cofield claims “one of his media buddies” got a text from Dana White that sums up Couture’s plan to call it quits after this weekend’s fight with Lyoto Machida by saying: “Retire? Not if he wins.”
“It doesn’t matter if I win or not,” Couture sort of snaps. “I know them, I know Dana. He’s got plans already and it doesn’t matter to me. He’s going to really have to step up if he thinks I’m going to come back out (of retirement). I don’t think that’s going to happen. There’s a lot of younger guys … Jon Jones is the perfect example. They offered me that fight in the fall. Nobody wants to fight that cat right now. I don’t see that battle in my future.”
Huh. Very interesting. Indeed, Couture is still adamant he’ll be walking away (again) after this weekend. Yet considering what we know about his past, even that tiny little hint that the UFC could coax him back into the Octagon if it unloads a dump truck of money in his driveway makes us hear echoes of Lloyd Christmas deep in the recesses of our cynical little mindbrains: “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance.” The vid itself, which is full of interesting tidbits, is after the jump.
(“That’s a great question, Fabricio. Actually, Chuck and I have found that through careful investment research it’s possible to locate dependable mutual funds that can average as much as 12 percent annual growth over the long term.”)
Look, we gotta believe there are a limited number of fake jobs that Zuffa, LLC can possibly make up for aging former fighters as the company’s way of saying, “Thanks for getting punched in the head for so many years so Dana could buy a new Ferrari.” Chuck already has one, Matt Hughes obviously wants one and now MMA grandpa Randy Couture is making noise about wanting one too. Not for nothing, but if we were Liddell we might be getting a little nervous right now. I mean, if you could choose to have Couture as your phony Vice President of Business Development instead of THIS GUY, you’d do it in a heartbeat, right? Office politics can be a bitch that way.
If you’ve ever wondered what UFC conference calls are like, they’re pretty much the same as the UFC pre and post-fight press conferences, featuring the same reporters asking the same questions and typically getting the same replies.
Today’s first half of the two scheduled UFC 129 conference calls which featured Mark Hominick, Jose Aldo, Lyoto Machida and Randy Couture, was somewhat overshadowed by Couture’s retirement announcement that made the rounds this morning. Most of the questions (and a few separate congratulatory messages) were directed at Couture from writers wanting to know if he would keep his word this time, why he made the decision and what he would do next. One even asked Machida how he felt being involved in “The Natural’s” last fight. I was surprised that some of the journos on the call didn’t ask Aldo and Hominick what they thought about Randy calling it a career.
I kind of felt bad for Hominick and Aldo, who, although aren’t quitting fighting ARE fighting as the co-headliners in a championship bout on the largest scale MMA card in North American history. Priorities people. Randy will be available to answer questions about his retirement plans after the fight.
A few tidbits and the audio from the call are after the jump.
In honor of “The Natural” we thought it would be timely and appropriate to post a highlight video showing some of the greatest moments of his storied MMA career. It just so happens that “Nick the Face” recently assembled a UFC 129 highlight video that fits the bill nicely and incorporates most of Randy’s best performances.
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.”
The extended video preview for UFC 129 has hit the Internet tubes, and as usual with these things, we get confident words from all the headliners, intercut with Joe Rogan raving about what beasts they are. Here’s a cheat-sheet…
— Georges St. Pierre says it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of all-time biggest gate in UFC history, and promises to give the fans a good show. Welterweight title contender Jake Shields says he has no problem fighting in hostile territory — which might be the first time that any part of Canada has been described as “hostile territory.” Says Shields: “Everyone has holes. He’s human. Once I get on top of him, I’m going to pass and put him away.” GSP respects Jake’s six year, 15-fight win streak, but says that fighting for a UFC world title is a different game. Particularly when you’re fighting Georges St. Pierre.
(“Why yes, I *am* getting too old for this shit. Thanks for asking!”)
During his 14-year MMA career, Randy Couture has ditched the UFC no less than three times — once in 1998 to pursue opportunities in Japan, the second time due to a short-lived retirement in 2006 following his second knockout loss to Chuck Liddell, and finally in 2007 due to a money disputes and a perceived lack of respect. Each time, the lure of competition has brought him back to his home in the Octagon. But there’s only so much a 47-year-old can take, and after a series of vaguehints in recent months, it seems like Randy is preparing us for his final departure, seriously, for real this time.
During an appearance on the ESPN UFC podcast, Couture stated that his upcoming UFC 129 fight against Lyoto Machida will very likely be his last, win or lose. As he put it:
Sometimes an MMA fight is so close — or controversial — that matching the fighters up again a few months later is the only logical option. In honor of the upcoming immediate rematches between Leonard Garcia and Nam Phan (at UFC Fight Night 24 on March 26th), and Edgar vs. Maynard 3 at UFC 130, we decided to round up our favorite “do-over” fights of all time…
6. STEPHAN BONNAR vs. KRZYSZTOF SOSZYNSKI UFC 116, 7/3/10 Why it was necessary: A clash of heads during their first fight at UFC 110 opened up a nasty gash on Bonnar’s forehead; the referee didn’t see the illegal impact, and awarded a TKO victory to Soszynski due to cuts. Furious at taking his third-straight loss in such an unjust manner, Bonnar filed a formal appeal with the Combat Sports Authority of New South Wales. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears, but the UFC hooked Bonnar up (as they often do) by giving him an immediate rematch with K-Sos on the blockbuster “Lesnar vs. Carwin” card. What happened: Bonnar/Soszynski 2 turned out to be a meat-and-potatoes brawl reminiscent of Bonnar’s first war with Forrest Griffin. The American Psycho and the Polish Experiment both appeared to gas out by the middle of the second round, but Bonnar was able to keep throwing and landing until he overwhelmed K-Sos with strikes at the 3:08 mark. The fight netted both men $75,000 Fight of the Night bonuses, and produced one of the greatest victory poses in UFC history.
Randy Couture is one of the most beloved fighters in MMA thanks in part to his ability to win fights he is meant to lose and also because he’s always willing to give reporters and fans his time, regardless how turrible or oblivious they may be.
(In his next fight, Bader would like to face someone of great historical significance. Anybody got Kimo’s number? Pic: MMA Convert.)
Contrary to popular belief, the UFC middleweight division has not quite cornered the market on making strategically advantageous call-outs. While the world’s 185-pound fighters are lining up to let everybody know how much they’d all love to fight Michael Bisping – which is like so 2010 – their light heavyweight brethren are also making requests of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. It seems that at least a couple of 205-pounders have been spending some time on the “Fighters” page over at UFC.com and thinking to themselves, “Let’s see here, who can I beat?”
Ryan Bader, for one, emerged this week from whatever dark room he’s been huddled in, rocking back and forth since UFC 126 to tell ESPN.com he’d very much like to fight Tito Ortiz. Cuz, why not? Sure, just a withered shell of his former self, Ortiz hasn’t won a fight since 2006, is barely clinging to his career and seemingly can’t make it to the cage without a serious back injury, cracked skull or giant laceration over his eye, but still … fighting him would mean A LOT to Bader. You know, on a personal level.
(Ricco Rodriguez battles Randy Couture at UFC 39 while wearing the henna tattoo that almost brought down an industry. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
This Saturday, former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez faces TUF 10 vet James McSweeney in the co-main event of BAMMA 5 (MEN Arena; Manchester, England), which you can watch live via $10 online pay-per-view at bammatv.com. With 10 consecutive wins already under his belt — and his personal demons under control — you’d think that a decisive win over McSweeney would move Rodriguez one step closer to a UFC return. That’s what we thought anyway, until we asked Ricco about it on last week’s episode of The Bum Rush Radio Show. (The interview with Rodriguez begins at the 1:30:11 mark.)
As it turns out, the recent report that claimed Rodriguez was on the verge of signing a new contract with the UFC was mostly hot air. And in fact, it would be a minor miracle if “Suave” got anywhere close to an Octagon during his lifetime. Here’s the excerpt from our Bum Rush interview, in which Ricco Rodriguez — for the first time ever — explains why he’s been blacklisted from the organization.
RICCO RODRIGUEZ: No, [the report] definitely wasn’t accurate. There were some talks to possibly get into the UFC, but that opportunity is just not available, and I just don’t ever see myself returning to the UFC. Dana holds a grudge pretty well, and he has his reasons, and I don’t blame him. I understand what I did at that time, and it was a tough pill to swallow and he has every right to be upset with him…The truth of the matter is, is that I single-handedly almost tore down the UFC at one point in my career. A lot of people don’t know this, and you’ll probably be the first one that I’ll ever admit this to.
("Tell me again what it was like hanging out on the set with Hocky Balboa.")
When a story emerged last week that less than a month prior to the bout Vitor Belfort had jumped ship from training with Shawn Tompkins at TapouT Training Centre in Las Vegas in favor of holding his camp for his February 5 UFC 126 showdown with UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva at Xtreme Couture, the Internet exploded with theories about the obvious fragile mental state of "The Phenom" and fans and pundits quickly began writing off the former UFC heavyweight champ’s chances in the fight.
According to Belfort, the truth is, although he returned to working under the tutelage of Tompkins for this camp, he never really actually stopped training at the Randy Couture-helmed gym.
In a recent Twitter post Vitor (who incidentally trained almost exclusively with the Xtreme Couture coaches he’s working with now like Gil Martinez and Ray Sefo for his planned UFC 122 fight with Yushin Okami that was scrapped in favor of the Belfort-Silva bout next month) wrote that Tompkins was way off in his assessment of the situation.
"I dont think I have anything nice to say other than just ignoring it all. I have the right to choose who to train with. I have loyalty and respect and that is why I didn’t hide[the fact that I was also training at Xtreme Couture] from him," Belfort tweeted. "He tooks this more personally. I made my choice and this is just his opinion of it and nothing more."
(The last time Big Daddy got paid on time and in full.)
By Cage Potato contributor Chris Colemon
Only 17 years removed from its inaugural bout, the UFC is just now exiting its awkward teen years and developing into a suave, sophisticated adult. After an extended bout of growing pains that at times threatened the sport’s very existence, MMA is finally coming into its own. Today’s fans witness seemingly daily achievements and milestones that speak to the sport’s rapid expansion. In 2010 alone, the UFC held its first events in Abu Dhabi and Australia, opened offices in China, set a new North American attendance record for an MMA event, crowned its first Mexican heavyweight champion, and launched their first attack in the Battle for New York.
But the UFC’s epic tale is not unlike any other in that each chapter begins where another one ends. For every historic first, there is an all but forgotten last.
Here is a short list of some of the UFC’s important lasts – the rules and regulations sacrificed in the fight for our sport’s survival.
On paper, Machida, who was robbed of a decision over Quinton Rampage Jackson at UFC 123 in November after losing the light heavyweight belt to Mauricio Shogun Rua in May at UFC 113, is probably the UFC’s number two light heavyweight contender at the moment behind Rashad Evans, making the announcement that he will be facing an odds defying game plan master like Couture in his next bout somewhat of a head scratcher.
The cost vs. reward ratio is skewed in Randy’s favor.
If he beats the 47-year-old nearly-retired former champion, he beat a 47-year-old former champion, which shouldn’t raise his stock much in the UFC’s light heavyweight class. If he loses to Couture, he’ll have lost three fights in a row and will likely be relegated to fighting mid-card against Krzysztof Soszynski in his next bout, while Couture will likely get a crack at winning the UFC 205-pound belt for a record fourth time in his career by facing Shogun.
Although he says that he isn’t specifically fighting to win a title shot, Couture is cognizant that a win over Machida would put him in line to face Rua (the other fighter besides Lyoto that he named as being the two opponents he would take a break from acting to face) for the title.
In the interview above with MMA30′s Dave Farra, Couture talks about how he plans to bring the fight to Machida and also touches on some topics near and dear to him, including why his protegee Gray Maynard was somewhat sluggish in his UFC 125 fight with Frankie Edgar and his former Team Quest stablemate Chael Sonnen’s recent rash of bad decisions.
Chicks dig fighters — even the ones who talk funny. But even with the natural advantages that come with muscles, scars, and fame, we’re still occasionally surprised by the lady-killing ability of some mixed martial artists. Of all the MMA PUA‘s, these six are the most accomplished…
DEAN LISTER Notable conquests: WWE star Milena Roucka (aka ‘Rosa Mendes’), model Flavia Mazoni Notes: ‘The Boogeyman’ is semi-retired from the sport these days, choosing instead to spend his time training hopeless cases. But in his prime, Dean Lister was just as notable for his ability to attract exotic beauties as he was for his in-cage exploits. Grappling ability plus a cartoonishly strong-looking jawline is a combination that women can’t resist, apparently.
MATT HAMILL Notable conquests: Bikini model Wendy Foster, a super-hot former fiance named Brittany, an old girlfriend that was apparently down for whatever. Notes: Snagging a Hooters Girl of the Year would be an accomplishment for any man. But to do it without the use of one of your five senses? Bro, that’s legendary. (Then again, deafness is probably an asset when you’re pretending to be interested in your girlfriend’s stories.) Matt Hamill’s ex-fiance, a bartender from upstate New York, was just as hot, and of course there were those rumors of Hamill’s partner-swappin’ lifestyle with a freaky old flame. Respect the Hammer.
First reaction: Pretty cool fight, right? The consummate game-planner versus the man who, despite recent back-to-back losses, remains the light heavyweight division’s most intriguing puzzle. It sort of makes sense for both guys too, I mean, as much as paying a 47-year-old man money to get punched in the head can ever make sense. For Machida, it would be a nice win for a guy who sorely needs to prove he still belongs among the 205-pound elite. For Couture, well, he said he wanted interesting challenges and opponents don’t get much more interesting than Machida.
Second reaction: Hold up. Should we really be excited about this? Like, aren’t we just enabling the old man now? And at what point do we all become complicit in Randy Couture’s demise?