Randy Couture has done things in the sport that many thought were impossible. He is still a consensus top-10 heavyweight at the age of 46. He was one of the only two men to win two titles in two different weight classes in the UFC. He is also headlining the main event this Saturday night against Brandon Vera.
However, he is one of the most overrated fighters in MMA today.
Let's take a look at his career. Couture won his first four professional fights by beating Tony Halme, Steven Graham, Vitor Belfort, and Maurice Smith. He then lost the next two fights to Enson Inoue, Mikhail Illoukhine. His next four fights were wins over Jeremy Horn, Ryushi Yanagisawa, Kevin Randleman, and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, before losing to Valentijn Overeem.
When he fought Kevin Randleman he won the Heavyweight title. He successfully defended the title twice against Pedro Rizzo. The first fight with Rizzo had many people thinking it could have gone either way. He then lost that belt to Josh Barnett, who was confirmed to having steroids in his post-fight urinalysis.
Couture's next fight was for the vacant heavyweight title against Ricco Rodriguez, which he lost because he submitted to strikes. After a drop down in weight class to 205, he beat number one contender Chuck Liddell and champion Tito Ortiz. He then lost the belt he just won to Vitor Belfort because of a cut. He turned around and avenged the loss and won back his title, only to lose his belt again to Chuck Liddell.
A win over Mike Van Arsdale put him back in line to fight Liddell for the championship. However, Liddell knocked him out for a second time, and he retired from the UFC. The retirement doesn't hold up too long, because he came back shortly after to beat Tim Silvia for the heavyweight championship. He successfully defended the belt against Gabriel Gonzaga. After a long period of contract disputes with the UFC (during which other fighters fought for the interim title), he lost his official UFC title to Brock Lesnar.
So let's look at the numbers.
After 26 professional fights, Couture compiled a mediocre record of 16-10. Seven out of his 16 wins came by decision, with nine out of his 10 losses involving the fight being finished in some way or form. Out of his 15 title matches, he only has three successful title defenses and an overall 8-4 record.
It is understandable that the UFC continues to ride the Couture hype train for as long as possible. It is respectable to pay homage to the fighters that got your organization up and going. That is why they have a Hall of Fame. The longer the UFC holds on Couture, the longer another young, deserving fighter is being suppressed.
The budget doesn't allow for the multi-million dollar promotion of Couture as well as promoting young, up-and-coming fighters. Besides monetary issues, there has been a consistent decline in his performances since his second fight with Liddell. Including the second Liddell fight, he went 3-4, being knocked out three times. His win over Gonzaga was pure luck due to the fact that Gonzaga broke his nose and got gassed.
There are many other fighters that the UFC can promote rather than Randy. I also feel that he should not be rewarded with the idea of another run at the Light Heavyweight Title just because, as the commercial states, "he wants to". The Light Heavyweight division is stacked with the most talent, and Couture has in no way earned the right to even think about a title shot. The fight world is mostly a "what have you done for me lately" industry, where although he put up fairly entertaining fights, he isn't winning them.
UFC, it is time to move on.