Randy Couture is set to fight Loyoto Machida in UFC 129, one of the organization's best cards to date. Couture is saying that the bout will be his last fight in the UFC, as he is to announce his retirement afterwards. Nonetheless, many fans still believe that this will not be the last fight for "the Natural," who has announced retirement in the past, only to come back again to fighting and claiming a title in the heavyweight division.
But what will this fight with a former light heavyweight champion give Couture? If he wins and retires, what legacy would he leave in the minds of the present fans of the sport? Or if he losses this one, should it have impact on his reputation as a fighter?
First, let us acknowledge that this fight with Machida is Couture's toughest test in a long time. The last three fights that he won are against Brandon Vera, Mark Coleman and James Tony, all of whom are fighters who are pass their prime and mismatch for Couture skill-wise.
This is why a match with "the Dragon" would prove to be the toughest for Couture in a while. Not only the karate master has the skills standing up and on the ground, he is also once considered unbeatable before the Shogun fight and has proved that he still has what it takes to be champion after losing a close fight with Rampage Jackson.
So what will a fight with Machida give Couture? One thing is for sure: Couture will gain respect after the fight to add up to the legacy that he has already built.
Let us assume that "the Natural" wins this fight and remains true to his word and retires. For sure, many fans would be calling out a fight with Couture and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, clamoring that a fight with "Bones" would cement his legacy, win or lose, as this would be his seventh championship fight in the division.
Let me tell you one thing, Couture doesn't need to fight Jones in order to cement his legacy—a win from Machida is enough. Many might say that Machida is already not in his prime and a win would not benefit Couture's legacy, but let me tell you that a win from the karate master is the best way to exit the UFC for one reason—Machida is still a threat in his division's championship belt.
Say Couture wins over a still-on-his-prime Machida and retires. Afterward, Machida remains dedicated in the sport and improves his skills, defeating a couple of contenders as a result. For sure, "the Dragon" will be once again considered in a championship run, with many of the fans and analysts believing that he has the answer to Jon Jones' puzzle.
If Machida wins his fight with Jones, this will mean a lot to "the Dragon" but more to "the Natural." This means that Couture had beaten a former champion and a present one in Loyoto Machida. Therefore, he doesn't need to fight Bones—just simply defeat Machida and let him defeat Jones.
But it will take a lot from Couture in order to defeat Machida. The odds might be in favor of the younger, faster fighter. So the more probable result is Couture losing this one.
Nonetheless, I believe that Couture just needs to put up an exciting fight in order to come out with a bang. He has already proved that he is one of the best fighters the MMA world has, a reason he is inducted in UFC's hall of fame, and he doesn't need this victory in order to cement the legacy that he has already built. What the fans need to see is "the Natural" giving his best shot in his last fight—the best way to end his career.