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Dana White pressed the return of Randy Couture

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randy natural couture ufc 68
UFC President Dana White called former champion -- and now unretired heavyweight contender -- Randy Couture each month since he hung up his gloves in February 2006 to coax the legend out of retirement, according to and interview with NBCSports.com.

Here's a snip from "The Natural:"

"... White had been calling me every month since I retired saying, 'Bull----, you're not retiring! When are you coming back?' They'd thrown a couple things at me that just didn't work out. For one reason or another, they didn't pan out....'"

Well, the persistence apparently paid off -- Couture will fight UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 on March 3 in Columbus, Ohio.

Couture admits that the reason he retired was to settle some personal issues outside the cage -- something he couldn't do as a high-profile fighter on the Zuffa payroll. So, rather than taking sabbatical, he decided to call it quits altogether.

Here's another snip:

"I felt like it's what I needed to do at the time [retire]. I needed to pull back. They were going to keep throwing fights at me, and I needed to pull back and settle some personal stuff and get that monkey off my back. And I said all along from day one, you never say never. I always said that given the right circumstances, I could be coerced into coming back. Not that it took a lot of coercion."

For what it's worth, Couture always did leave open the possibility of a return. I think it's just interesting that White was more or less the catalyst for the decision, contradicting most interviews with White that Couture alone offered up the idea of a comeback.

There are a lot of other interesting nuggets in the two-part article -- check it out when you have some time. The second half of the piece will come out this Thursday.