UFC 129 Fight Card: Is Randy Couture the Most Influential Fighter in UFC History

Will AndersonCorrespondent IApril 18, 2011

PHOENIX - AUGUST 13:  Randy Couture speaks with the media during the Strikeforce Challengers Main Card bout at Dodge Theater on August 13, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In today’s modern-day version of mixed martial arts, youth is king.

So, if I were to tell you about a former collegiate wrestler and Olympic alternate who is now looking to throw his hat in the cage at the age of 34, you would probably think I was on some serious medication.

Well, the scenario which I’ve just painted for you might not fly in today’s MMA, but surprising enough, it has happened.

If you rewind back to 1997, particularly UFC 13, you can easily recall that a man by the name of Randy Couture was making his professional MMA debut.

Who knew that the then-34-year-old former Oregon State University wrestling coach would ascend to the heights of MMA legend?

Couture, who turns 48 in June, has had the type of career which we will probably never see replicated.

He’s been one of the only fighters to still be active from the very early days of the sport, carry the torch through the dark days and still remain relevant in the sport’s recent explosion of popularity.

As an ambassador for MMA, you couldn’t ask for anyone better. Couture presents himself in an affable manner and has always managed to maintain his trademark humility even when dealing with defeat.

So, what exactly sets “The Natural” apart from other fighters? What makes him so highly regarded amongst his much younger peers?

It’s a mix of it all.

Couture, along with Chuck Liddell, put on the most widely anticipated trilogy in MMA history.

In 2007, after coming out of retirement at the age of 43, Couture won a unanimous decision over the much bigger, stronger and younger Tim Sylvia to secure the UFC heavyweight championship for the second time.

In 2008, Couture defended his title against a monster of a man in Brock Lesnar and while he lost, it was the first card to reach a one million-plus pay-per-view buy rate since UFC 66.

Couture has a never-say-die way of living and fighting which is appealing all fighters and fans alike regardless of age.

While the odds are against him going into UFC 129 next weekend against a younger, faster light heavyweight in Lyoto Machida, it’s hard to count Couture out.