Almost 13 years ago, a talented, hungry, accomplished wrestler took his first steps into the Octagon. The wake he would leave in his path would forever change the sport of mixed martial arts.
When Randy “The Natural” Couture started his career, he began a journey that would have its peaks and valleys along the way. In both victory and defeat, Couture galvanized his reputation in the sport.
Sixteen wins and ten losses later, Randy is about to take on his 27th opponent in the sport he has called home for over a decade. Brandon Vera looks to seize this opportunity with Randy to regain his momentum in the sport.
As the end of his storied career comes into its twilight, many find themselves asking, will this be the last time we see this legend fight? At what point will “Captain America” hang up the gloves? Can he still remain relevant in this sport?
Relevant in MMA is a relative term. Relevant refers to whether or not he can he impact a division, or climb up the ladder and pursue a title. Another way of gauging relevance is by discussing the ability to draw viewers.
If there is one definitive answer in the question of Couture’s relevance it is in his ability to pull viewers. The perennial underdog, Randy has developed a sort of cult reputation for overcoming odds.
Even though that may be true, even the most hardcore of Couture fans must wonder how much longer can he compete at this level.
As said before, even in defeat Randy impresses his abilities upon his viewers. One need look no further than his showing against current heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Up until the knockout, Randy was giving Lesnar real trouble. He is always in the fight.
Fight fans love an underdog, especially one that not only defies the odds but time itself. Not many men approaching 48 years old would dare look at a fighter like Brandon Vera cross.
Randy intends to not only size Vera up but defeat the young challenger this Saturday night at UFC 105. If he cannot do as he intends to, it may signal the end of an era. If Randy falls this Saturday in Manchester, England, surely his time inside the Octagon will have come to an end.
Couture is currently riding a two fight losing streak. One more loss may prove fatal to his tenure as a fighter in the sport. Of course, a loss is not on Couture’s agenda. In fact, a loss is the furthest thing from Couture’s mind. If he has it his way, this fight will prove that he can still get it done in a young man’s sport.
If he is successful in his quest for victory at UFC 105, he will take one more step towards remaining relevant in the sport. One more victory would lead to at least one more chance to fight again.
With the prospects behind Vera as possible opponents it is hard to imagine Randy pulling off two or three consecutive victories to make his way to one last chance at UFC gold. Fighters like Rashad Evans, and maybe even Anderson Silva could stand in Couture’s path on the way to what is currently cemented around Lyoto Machida’s waist.
Either one of those fights would be a tall order, but the odds have failed to beat Couture before.
One thing is certain and cannot be questioned. Odds are not what guide this legend through this sport. What is written on paper does not dictate his fate. Age will not be the reason he retires. Randy will do as Randy does simple as that.
As long as “The Natural” believes that, he will continue to defy the skeptics, he will continue to smash the odds, and he will continue to remain relevant in this sport.
Even if the skeptics would count him out yet again.