By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Though UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture has “retired” from MMA competition twice before, the 47-year-old legend now says he’s sticking to his guns, and this month’s UFC 129 bout with Lyoto Machida will be his last.
“I believe this is my last fight,” Couture said in comments made to ESPN’s Josh Gross. “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.”
Couture’s previous retirements came after his UFC 57 loss to Chuck Liddell and then in late 2007 when the UFC failed to acquire Fedor Emelianenko he declared his retirement in an attempt to set up
a fight with “The Last Emperor” outside of the organization. In both instances he returned to action in the UFC, but with a budding acting career gaining steam and more options being made available to him there, he says this time it’s for real and he wants to go out on his own terms.
“I will miss the competition immensely but I want to go out on my terms,” he 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.”
Penick’s Analysis: This isn’t at all surprising, and it’s something he’s hinted at and even said aloud prior to this, but these statements are the most definitive comment he’s made on the subject. At 47, no one will have anything negative to say about him hanging up the gloves. He’s accomplished so much already in his career, and has been one of the faces of the UFC for a long time. The fact that he hasn’t suffered numerous losses in a row to finish out his career will be something he can hang his hat on, as even a loss in his final fight isn’t a slight on him or his career. Lyoto Machida was the champion of this division just last year, and losing a fight to him won’t in any way affect Couture’s legacy as a fighter; that’s been established for a long time. But win or lose, this is the way to go out if you’re Couture, and while fans will be sad to see him go, it’s simply time. UFC 129 will be one last attempt to prove he can still hang with anyone, and even if he pulls off the upset, that will be more than enough.
UPDATE: During a media conference call on Tuesday, Couture reiterated his stance, and made it clear this was a decision a long time in the making. Said Couture, “It’s been an ongoing transition for me. I kind of want to go out on my own terms and decide when enough is enough. I think that time has come… I think it’s time to focus on the other things I have going in my life after the fight.”
[Randy Couture art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]