Ryan Couture is looking to make his own name in mixed martial arts.
The son of UFC Hall-of-Famer and five-time UFC champion Randy Couture has had people watching his career progress ever since he made his amateur debut in February of 2009.
There have been some perks that came with the attention.
Not many fighters get to sign an exclusive contract with Strikeforce before they have their first professional fight. Even fewer have their first two fights televised nationally, but the younger Couture is playing it smart, fighting at his own pace.
He's continued to step into the cage against fighters on his own level. This Friday night (June 24, 2011), he'll be squaring off against his toughest opponent yet, fellow undefeated fighter and two-time Strikeforce veteran Matt Ricehouse on the main card of Strikeforce Challengers 16 in Kent, Washintgon.
The legendary offspring spoke about living up to the family name, his upcoming fight and how he's evolved as a mixed martial artist in this exclusive interview with MMAmania.com.
Take a look.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're scheduled to face Matt Ricehouse on Friday. You've said that you and your manager try to accept the best fights. This is a guy that's 4-0 as a professional and he's won 10 in a row going back to his amateur career. What kind of stood out about him to make you guys accept the fight?
Ryan Couture: Well it's not like we handpicked him at all but I do like the match-up a lot. I think he's got a similar style to me. We're both kinda rangy and we're both pretty well-rounded but most comfortable on the ground. I think it'll be a good match-up. He's a tough kid and it'll be a really good test for me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): He's a guy that's fought in Strikeforce twice before on the undercard of both St. Louis shows. Did you get a chance to see any tape of him to get a grasp of how good he is on the ground?
Ryan Couture: I saw his most recent fight and I was able to find his pro debut as well. He's very aggressive, he stays busy. He's always either striking or trying to pass the guard when he's on top and he has a very active guard when he's on bottom as well either trying to work back to his feet or playing guard and looking for submissions. I'll definitely have to play a very tight game in order to beat him there but I know I'm more than capable of doing that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've definitely got a good chance of doing that especially now that you're working on being more well-rounded. Your last fight with Lee Higgens, you were picking him apart with your leg kicks and that set up a really nice right hand that dropped him. How did it feel to get that big knockdown with your striking?
Ryan Couture: It felt great. It was like one minute he was there, the next minute he wasn't . I think because it hadn't really happened for me before, i was really surprised and I wasn't able to necessarily make the most of it. All credit to Lee for bouncing back up again. It was a heck of a shot that I hit him with and he was back up on his feet in no time. That was a good feeling, gave me a bit of confidence that the work I've been doing in the gym has been paying off and I'm hoping to expand on that in this next fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I really liked your finishing mentality in your last fight. There was less than 20 seconds left and you still went for the submission to get that finish when you probably could have just rode out a decision. Can you talk about that?
Ryan Couture: As long as I've got any gas left in the tank, I'm always going to be looking for a way to finish the fight. I'm much more satisfied getting the stoppage than I ever would be getting a decision. I think that's the way that everyone should fight. Obviously there are times where you don't want to take unnecessary risks but I was in a dominant position and there was no reason to stop working hard and try to stop the fight that way.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With your first fight only going a minute. Did it feel good that you could go almost three full rounds and still be strong enough to get a finish like that at the end?
Ryan Couture: Yeah I was really happy to get that experience in and put that conditioning to the test and feel like I wasted all that misery in training to build up that cardio. It was something that I think I needed was a good achievement of ring time to really get comfortable in there. I think the biggest thing I felt coming out of that last fight was that it was the first time amateur or professional in my career that I really just felt calm and comfortable in there like I do in training. I remember saying to my corner after the first round was over that it felt like sparring in there and it was something that I've been really wanting to get to that point where I can think through things more and not just react on adrenaline and instinct so that was a really good feeling and something that gives me a lot of confidence heading into this fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, definitely and especially because Ricehouse is a guy that similar to your last fight, he takes guys into the third round and finishes them there. He's had three of his four professional fights go into the third round so that's gotta be a big boost for you.
Ryan Couture: Absolutely. He's in good shape definitely, applies a lot of pressure and of the fights I've seen, he's definitely wore down his opponent and it didn't seem like he necessarily had his way with them the whole fight. He sort of went in with an early storm and was able to grind them down and break 'em and I think he's not going to be able to do that to me. I'm gonna be in good shape and be technical enough to stop that from happening but I think that style is gonna be a good test for me and it's gonna really push me and force me to be my best.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I want to talk about the expectations that people have of you. Obviously, just because of your name, people are kind of just putting you up there and wanting you to take on the absolute best guys out there right now. Is it difficult at times to pace yourself?
Ryan Couture: I definitely find that I have to remind people now and again that I only have two fights, soon be three fights under my belt as a pro and there's no reason to hurry in anything. I think that my marketability due to the groundwork that dad laid and what he built is way ahead of where my experience necessarily is at this point so I definitely have to be careful and make sure that we walk that line of getting the right fights and the right experience to make the most of this career and not rush into anything to soon.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With your dad retiring after his last fight. Was there kind of a "passing of the torch" moment. Did he talk to you about that, carrying on the Couture name?
Ryan Couture: We never talked about it. It hadn't even really occurred to me until I started getting asked that question honestly that him leaving could potentially change anything. My job description is still exactly what it always has been and it's still up to other people whether they should just focus me or stop worrying about me now that he's not keeping the name in the headlines or what. My job is exactly the same as it has been. It's been to keep getting better and go out there and win fights.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel that, especially if you can come out and win this fight, that people will start knowing you more as Ryan Couture and not just Randy Couture's son?
Ryan Couture: I think that I make progress towards that with every fight. Being Randy's son is always gonna be part of the conversation. It's not something I'm trying to escape entirely and it's not something I could even if I wanted to but I think the more of a resume that I build and the more accomplishments that are my own then the more they'll talk about that at first and then also that I happen to be Randy's son.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now that your dad isn't fighting, is he taking more of an expanded role at Xtreme Couture or he kind of off doing his own thing?
Ryan Couture: A little bit of both. He still been in the gym, kinda the same as always. When he's in town, he comes in and he still likes to train. That's something that he'll always do and his role with the business is always going to be the final say and still steering and giving the "yes" or "no" on any decisions that are made. I think that will stay the same but that his Hollywood career is gonna become more of a focus for him and I have a feeling that is what will take up the majority of his time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Ok, let's get back to you. What aspect of your overall fight game do you think you've improved the most since you started training as a professional fighter?
Ryan Couture: I think my footwork is the thing that has improved the most. I think I really shows it in the last fight and we'll see that it's even better now than it was then. It's been in the gym that I've made the most progress. Just my movement and footwork and ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I would say coming into this fight, how do you feel the bout with Ricehouse is going to play out now that you've had this eight week training camp and you've really put in the framework to get it done.
Ryan Couture: From what I know of my own style and what I've seen of his, I predict that we're probably gonna feel each other out standing a little bit and then depending on how those exhanges go, I see the fight playing out a lot in the clinch and on the ground and coming down to controlling top position and who makes more mistakes. I think he's really tough, talented and aggressive but he leaves more openings than I do and I think I'll be able to capitalize on that.
Ryan would like to thank his team at Xtreme Couture especially Jimmy Jones, Tim Lane, Jake Bonacci and Neil Melanson. Also, sponsors Inflict Sports, Xtreme Couture clothing, Las Vegas Mobile Bistro, Canyon Lake Neck and Back.
So what do you think Maniacs?
Will Couture continue his steady rise up the ranks? Or is he biting off more than he can chew with just his third professional fight? Can he live up to the lofty expectations due to his family name?