Shortly after Couture appeared to make an unofficial retirement announcement through social media, Josh Gross announced that in fact, Couture wants to fight Mauricio Rua or Lyoto Machida. For some reason, the writers and commentators in the media appear to have a hard time understanding Randy Couture.
With all due respect to the man, let me spell the truth out for you all in plain English: Randy Couture doesn't want a real fight.
Over the past few months, commentators have said that Couture isn't satisfied anymore with taking the kind of novelty fights that he's been given over the past year, and that if he isn't going to be put into a big fight, then he doesn't really want to bother with it all.
What Couture actually said is quite the opposite.
In His Own Words
Here is what Couture said about his recent "fights."
"They didn't really matter in the division, they didn't really put me any closer to a title, and I have to make a decision at some point. So I think I would entertain another novelty-type fight. I could still compete but I don't see myself making a run at the title any time soon." - Randy Couture
Contrary to what commentators have said, Couture is in fact open to taking another novelty fight, or another high-profile squash match.
What Couture doesn't want is another war with a legitimate contender in the light-heavyweight division.
In his words, Couture said that he's had his share of wars, and I think it's fairly safe to say that when he says that, he means he's not really looking forward to any new ones.
Shogun or Machida?
I suppose there is a novelty aspect of an aging legend fighting one of the true current elites of the UFC's light heavyweight division, but these aren't squash matches in Couture's favor.
In truth, I would give Couture a chance against Rua, only because Rua doesn't have great takedown defense, and his cardio following a return from injury would be a big question mark.
If Rua spent too much time working scrambles on Couture, he could wind up tiring himself out, and leave himself open for a TKO stoppage by the third round.
Still, the kind of damage Rua is capable of unleashing is far from what any 47-year-old should be conscionably exposed to.
Machida, on the other hand, is simply a bridge too far.
Against Rua, Couture could at least threaten with takedowns. Machida is far harder to take down than Rua, and while he doesn't hit like Rua, he's still leagues about Couture in the striking department.
Couture's only option would be to try to push Machida up against the fence, and stay there for 15 minutes.
No, Couture is far too intelligent to want to fight Rua or Machida at this point in his career. Why risk another brutal concussion when the chance for victory is so slim?
Why All The Confusion?
As stated before, for some reason, people have this crazy idea that Couture really wants to fight these super-tough guys at the age of 47.
Josh Gross has said that Couture wants to fight Machida or Rua, but I think he's misinterpreting, and that if Couture actually asked to fight Lyoto Machida, the UFC would be more than willing to oblige him, despite speculation to the contrary, after all, Machida needs a win over a big name if he's going to put himself back into contention, and every other big name is booked.
I've read that Couture thinks that he'd match up well with Machida or Rua, but when it actually comes down to who he wants to fight, his recent comments have been on quite the opposite side of the spectrum.
So why all the confusion?
I think the explanation comes from two sides.
1. Half the MMA media is too blinded by Couture's accomplishments to understand how he could possibly prefer novelty fights over true challenges at this point in his career. Part of this stems from a large misconception over the man, where people think that he's always tried to challenge himself in the most difficult way possible.
How do you like Couture's chances against Machida?
Things are far more complex.
Couture is far from a coward, but the truth is that the kind of things Couture has done over his career, from doing MMA, to moving weight classes, to taking novelty fights, etc have had far more to do with opportunism than with the kind of brazenness attributed to the man.
After all, Couture didn't go up to fight Tim Sylvia because he thought Sylvia was awesome; He fought Sylvia because he got knocked out by Chuck Liddell twice at light heavyweight.
Presently, Couture surveys the battleground and feels that his best opportunities are in fictional battles in Hollywood scripts and novelty fights against over-matched opponents, not real wars.
2. Everybody else in the MMA media understands Couture, but they don't feel the need to say that "Couture doesn't really want a tough fight," in so many words. Perhaps out of respect.
Out of respect, Couture deserves to have his words interpreted properly: He doesn't want a real fight.