If Randy Couture has his way next Saturday night (April 30) at UFC 129: "St. Pierre vs. Shields," he'll exit the Octagon at the Rogers Center in Toronto on a four-fight winning streak and ride off gloriously into the sunset.
The 14-year MMA veteran has stated that win, lose or draw, his bout against Lyoto Machida will be his last.
"The Natural" fielded question after question from reporters during today's UFC 129 media conference call about the his retirement announcement. Couture was very candid and seemed to be at peace with the decision.
"It’s been an ongoing journey for me," said the UFC Hall of Famer. "I want to go out on my own terms and decide when enough is enough. I think that time has come. I had a great camp. Everything is spot on. I can’t wait ‘til next week. It’s been a fight I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and it’s finally going to happen.…I’ve thought about it the last couple camps and I made the decision this time. "
In Machida, Couture will face one of the most difficult challenges of his broad UFC career. Since debuting at UFC 13 in 1997, "Captain America" has won the heavyweight and light heavyweight belts a staggering five times. He explained exactly what was so enticing about coming back for one last bout with Machida.
"They offered me a couple other guys and I turned them down…I had to learn some new things. [Machida] has a complex and unique style. It’s been fun to study it and try to figure out what I think will work and how to get the job done. He’s a tremendous fighter and a tremendous athlete. Hopefully our training camp has the right answers. We won’t know until the 30th."
The UFC Hall of Famer wanted to make it very clear that he’s not choosing to walk away from the sport because of health reasons.
"I’m as healthy as ever. I feel great. I absolutely have the ability to continue to compete at this level. I don’t want to wait until I have issues to think about that weigh into a training camp and weigh into a fight. I don’t want to wait until doctors tell me I can’t fight anymore. Getting in a situation like that would affect other things I love to do. I like to hunt. I like to ride my bike. I like to do other things. I’m healthy and can enjoy the rest of my life right now. I don’t want to wait too long."
This isn’t the first time Randy’s retired from the sport. It’s actually his third. Randy tearfully exited stage right after being knocked out in his third fight with Chuck Liddell in 2006. After coming out of retirement and winning the heavyweight title again, he retired once more out of political reasons with the UFC. He discussed what exactly makes this time different.
"Obviously the circumstances regarding me stepping out back then were different. I was coming off a divorce and a lot of things stacked up. I needed a break. I needed to let the dust settle and get back to feeling like me and get back to training. It’s a lot different circumstances now. My life couldn’t be any better coming off of three victories. Everything is going really well."
Once his fight with Machida is over, Couture already has other career opportunities locked up. He revealed that he'll be shooting for the action movie "Hijack" in the end of May and the highly anticipated "Expendables 2" will tentatively start at the end of August.
Randy also floated the idea of coming back and commentating again.
"I enjoyed commentating when I did that for a couple of years. That’s something I could see myself going back to and kind of continue to give that fighter’s perspective in the booth for the pay-per-views."
So what do you think Maniacs? Will Couture actually be able to walk away for good this time?