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Mixed Martial Arts Legends - Randy Couture

By: Chris Head

Martial arts have developed over a period spanning centuries, skills and techniques passed from teacher to pupil transcending time and passing through generations. Gradually evolving into the forms of martial arts many practice around the world today. However, there has been something of a revolution in recent years. In the last 15 years many of these styles have merged producing highly developed modern day mixed martial arts fighters. Fighters that take the best elements from various martial arts and merge them to become better more efficient fighters.

If one man symbolizes this development that man is undeniably Randy Couture, a fighter that has consistently performed at the highest level, a fighter that thrills crowds with his ability and commitment whilst conducting himself like a gentleman outside of the ring.

Randy's fighting career has been nothing short of astonishing, after serving in the US army from 1982 to 1988 he went on to be a three time Olympic team alternate in 1988, 1992 and 1996 before bursting onto the mixed martial arts scene in 1997.

Randy made his UFC debut in May 1997. A fight in which he was viewed by most as an underdog, a card filler and wasn't taken seriously by either the MMA public or rival fighters. Randy however defeated both Tony Halme and Steven Graham to win UFC 13. He then followed this victory by defeating a very accomplished Victor Belfort; another fight no-one expected him to win.

This string of victories earnt him a title shot the then heavyweight champion Maurice Smith. Unsurprisingly Randy won this fight to become the new Heavyweight champion and establish himself as a crowd favourite. Sadly following these victories Randy was unable to agree contractual terms with the UFC and was controversially stripped of his title. Undeterred and keen to pursue his mixed martial arts career Randy signed for the Rings Organization with whom he fought until his return to the UFC in 2000.

In the years that followed Randy competed in many memorable and precedent setting fights. Some notable moments include winning a striking battle with Chuck Liddell and a catagoric victory over Tito Ortiz. During these years with the UFC Randy continued to be applauded and admired by the mma public affectionately being nicknamed "The Natural" and "Captain America".

After being defeated in his third fight with Chuck Liddell in February 2006 Randy announced his retirement from the UFC, a decision clouded by problems in his personal life.

A little under a year later Randy Appeared on an interview on Spike TV and announced his return from retirement. He had contacted fight organiser Dana White and expressed his dissatisfaction with heavy weight division. Dana recognized the benefit Randy could bring to the Heavyweight division and arranged a fight with the then Heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.

This fight is what I and many other commentators consider the defining moment in Randy's career. How could Randy ever hope to defeat a 6ft 8 inch Sylvia, a fighter with a weight and reach advantage. A fighter with an mma impressive record who was an astonishing 13 years younger than Couture. Many feared this would tarnish Couture's reputation, that he'd bitten off more than he could chew and that his return from retirement would be short lived and embarrassing.

However Randy stunned the mixed martial arts world by categorically defeating Sylvia at UFC 68. After only 8 seconds of the very first round Randy landed a perfectly timed right hook that knocked Sylvia off his feet and went on to dictate the fight over the full five rounds.

Randy had silenced his doubters. He'd done the impossible.

He has recently defended his title at UFC 74 by convincingly defeating Gabriel Gonzaga. Another fight in which Couture was labeled the under dog. This man continues to re-write the rule book, at the age of 44 he continues to improve. Entertaining and inspiring a generation.

I for one hope to see Couture fight in a few more battles.

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