Forgive me if I act a little apathetic toward Randy Couture’s announcement last week that he will hang up his gloves for good following his light heavyweight bout with Lyoto Machida, Saturday night at UFC 129. Not that Couture is prone to crying wolf, but we’ve all heard this same song before. After all, it was a mere five years ago that Couture announced his retirement from the sport following his second round TKO loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 57 back in 2006. It didn’t last long as Couture announced his return to action a mere 18 months later.
Entering and exciting retirement is nothing new in the fight game. Boxers have long held to the stereotype of a fighter returning to the ring once his prizefighting spoils have dried up. The funny thing about the Couture is that he has proven to be just as successful, if not more so, in his out of the cage business dealings. Couture is not short on money, and his decision to end his first retirement after 18 months stemmed for an insatiable competitive streak ingrained into the DNA of the world’s great athletes. Jordan couldn’t do it, Ali couldn’t do it, and Brett Favre couldn’t do it. There is a competitive drive in high-level athletes that drives them to want to compete against the best no matter what ravages Father Time has afflicted them with.
Couture is no different in this respect and while he still can function to the level of his stardom inside the Octagon, at 47 years old, it seems that the physical and mental grind of being a full time fighter are taking their toll him. Of course, how can you begrudge anyone from walking away from the cage after decades of fighting? Hell, Couture’s son has just embarked upon his professional MMA career. Not that Couture will walk off into the sunset to sip ice tea with the cast of Cocoon. If anything, Couture may find his post-fighting career equally as hectic and time consuming. Having been bitten by the acting bug (and the lucrative paydays associated with it), Couture has made it known that he wants to pursue more acting gigs. This is in addition to crowing his gym, clothing line, and dietary supplement line, amongst other lucrative endeavors.
In actuality, it would behoove the UFC to employ Couture in some sort of ceremonial position. There is, inarguably, no other fighter who is as good an ambassador for the sport of MMA than Randy Couture. Not only that, but it appears that Couture actually cares about growing the legitimacy of the sport and an ambassador type role would seem to be something right up his alley. In fact, Couture has the power and influence to do more for MMA outside of the cage than he ever could imagine fighting.
Of course, should the UFC signs Fedor Emelianenko, don’t be surprised to see Couture making yet another announcement….