There is a lot that can be said about the career of Randy “The Natural” Couture, most of which pertains to a legendary run that played a vital role in defining the culture of mixed martial arts.
The path that has been walked by Couture set the bar so high on so many levels that MMA will never be the same.
His pursuit of competitive excellence has blazed a path of superiority that all fighters should aspire to. Should any fighter achieve half of what Randy Couture has accomplished in his life, they will be doing quite well for themselves.
“The Natural” has fought in 15 championship fights over a 29 fight career. Folks, that is over 50 percent of his career spent at the championship level.
Very few athletes in this sport will ever fight for a title once across their careers, much less win one. Couture has made it a hobby.
Not only has he basked in the limelight of title fights for over half his career, he has held titles in two weight classes, a feat only he and B.J. Penn have been able to accomplish thus far in the history of the UFC.
The common Wikipedia facts are simply undeniable, and to be honest, they are absolutely staggering to contemplate considering how difficult this sport is at the most basic levels.
To even get into a cage and fight takes a rare breed, to fight well and succeed indefinitely is difficult, and to reach the pinnacle of promotions is almost impossible.
To continually reign supreme at the top of the toughest divisions in this sport is not of this world.
It is not only what Couture has accomplished with four ounce gloves on that defines his career though.
His fights are what will be remembered long after he rides off into the sunset as one of the greatest ever, but his work outside the cage has equally defined him and his legacy.
Couture is a champion among champions. He is a father, a patriot, a coach and an ambassador that has represented a sport that, quite honestly, has seen its reputation suffer since its inception.
There are many points to be made as to why MMA is less than what many of us believe it is. Those who might speak against it can raise more than a few questions regarding issues they may have with a fight game that pits two men or women against one another inside a chain link cage.
Hey, the fight game is an acquired taste. It simply is not for everyone—that is certain.
But for every negative word that can be spoken about this sport, there are Randy Coutures in the world working diligently to showcase a different side of MMA.
What many casual fans or even critics of the sport may not realize is guys like Couture (and there are not enough like him) are working every day to bring positivity out of this game.
Randy relentlessly pursues opportunities to use his star power and his recognition to help others. The efforts he makes outside of the cage have helped countless organizations and individuals in need. His aspirations to use his accomplishments to create something more have elevated both his legacy and this sport.
One example is Couture's undying support of the American soldier. Having paid his dues in the U.S. Military, our soldiers hold a special place in Couture's heart.
By creating the Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation to support and raise awareness for our brave men and women in the military, Couture has shown great compassion and patriotism.
Couture and the staff at his camp Xtreme Couture relentlessly seek out opportunities to serve those who so selflessly served their country. His efforts shine through in events like the Xtreme Combat weekend.
This event was held in Mesquite, Nevada, and Xtreme Couture partnered with Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships to put together a staggering fundraiser for soldiers in need.
The Xtreme Combat weekend was a gathering of well known fighters and components of the sport coming together with soldiers and fans in a paintball tournament that spanned an entire weekend. Splashed midway through the event was an amateur MMA event.
It was a fine display of the lengths Randy and the people he surrounds himself with will go to in efforts to give back and to support those who need support as much as anybody.
Couture had this to say about the event and his overall support of the troops: “Having spent time in a uniform, it became a personal goal of mine to find a way to give back to the brave men and women of our armed forces for the sacrifices they make defending our freedoms. The Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation was born out of that desire.”
It is not only his support of the soldier that represents his philanthropic nature.
One of the most moving stories many fight fans have never heard of is about a young boy by the name of Dylan Woods. Young Dylan was fighting the fight of his life against an unbeatable foe: brain cancer.
This young man was 12 years old and fought his battle as bravely as any champion to ever set foot inside the Octagon. Randy, his son Ryan and Xtreme Couture standout Jimmy Jones stood by Dylan and took every effort possible to support their fellow warrior.
Taking Dylan under their wing, they made countless efforts to ease his transition. From allowing him to walk out to fights with them to letting him corner private matches at the Xtreme Couture facility, Dylan was welcomed into the Xtreme Couture family with open arms.
Sadly Dylan's battle with cancer overwhelmed him and he succumbed to an unbeatable foe, but his memory is still strong amongst the Las Vegas fight community, Xtreme Couture in particular.
These examples are just a few of the overall picture that is painted by the efforts of Randy Couture and the people around him.
There is not enough time to talk about all the fundraisers and events he has coordinated or been a part of to not only improve the reputation of this sport, but the quality of life for those around him.
Simply put, Randy Couture is a great man, a truly amazing person. His legacy inside and outside of the cage has been unrivaled and extremely powerful.
While this man is a one-of-a-kind fingerprint in this game, no person or fighter could ever do wrong attempting to emulate such an amazing legend.
So, as the world of mixed martial arts looks to the weekend of April 30, to one of the biggest events in the history of the sport—UFC 129—and as they look to what appears to be the end of an era, it is important to remember more than just the fight.
The fight of Randy Couture, both past and present is why we tuned in, it is why we fell in love with this game, but it is not the entire story.
As his legend is dissected and discussed here today in the final rounds of a historic career, it is important to also celebrate Randy Couture the man, not just the fighter.
Randy Couture the man has held every bit as much weight as Randy Couture the fighter. His aspirations to be a legendary fighter and an ambassador who commands respect have been the framework for a career that will never ever be duplicated.
Thank you Randy, things simply won't be the same without you, and MMA would not be what it is today without your noble efforts across all platforms. The entire MMA community owes you a deep debt of gratitude and appreciation.
Your career will forever be celebrated as one of the greatest ever, and that may not quite do your legacy justice when it is all said and done.
Here's to a career that could not have been scripted any better than you actually lived it. Thanks again, champ.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA.