As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow at an incredible rate, so too does the talent pool from which the UFC has to choose from when fine tuning its roster. As a result, most fighters get a little nervous about their future after losing back-to-back fights inside the Octagon.
Then again, Randy Couture isn't like most fighters.
On the heels of his unanimous decision loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102 on August 29, the hall-of-famer and five-time champion has confirmed a new UFC contract that will secure his services for up to six fights in the span of 28 months.
The new deal supersedes his contract from September 2008, when "The Natural" returned from a bitter contract dispute to defend his title against Brock Lesnar at UFC 91.
The 11-month legal drama began when Couture faxed in his resignation from a South African movie set in late 2007, citing poor pay, lack of respect and a desire to fight Fedor Emelianenko — a high-profile free agent who the UFC was unable to sign.
He sat on the sidelines for almost a year, hoping that his legal team could find him a way out of his ironclad contract. The Zuffa legal machine proved insurmountable, and Captain America probably got tired of waiting while his biological clock ticked away.
The champ returned and it's been water under the bridge ever since.
The former division kingpin had one fight remaining after UFC 102 under the old deal, but with these new terms, Couture will finish his career under the Zuffa umbrella, effectively ending any chance of a future fight with Strikeforce attraction Fedor Emelianenko.
"We just signed a new contract, today (August 29). 28 months, six more fights. The opportunity to stay with the organization was my motivation. The way things are going this is the place to be. I intend to finish my career here in the UFC. I'm going to take it one fight at a time as I did 12 years ago when I started this thing. I'll see where that goes. I'm interested in interesting fights. There's a lot of guys in both divisions that are interesting to fight."
The loss to Nogueira pretty much eliminates a rematch with Brock Lesnar -- but that doesn't mean opportunities don't exist outside of a title fight.
A fight against Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic is likely to generate some fan interest and Couture has flirted with the idea of dropping back down to 205-pounds to mix it up with some of the division's elite.
The clock may be ticking, but he has an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion on fight night, leveraging his experience, knowledge and skill to put together (and execute) winning gameplans. Put simply, Randy Couture has proven over time that he can never be counted out.
The terms of his new agreement were not disclosed, but it's probable that his deal mirrors the recent ink on Lesnar's long term contract, designed to lock up the pay-per-view draw and prevent a future fight with anyone lurking in San Jose.
Randy is now a permanent fixture inside the Octagon and I think Dana White said it best: "Whatever he wants to do, I'm in."