It's never easy to be the son of a legend. It's even harder for Ryan Couture, who competes in the same sport as his dad did, where "The Natural" won both the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight championships.
The younger Couture has made the most of his famous last name by amassing a 9-3 record as a lightweight, having already fought for three major promotions in his young career: Strikeforce, UFC, and now Bellator MMA.
Couture made a successful debut for the promotion at Bellator 124, submitting Tom Bagnasco with a rear-naked choke in the first round. He'll look to equal or even improve upon that performance facing Dakota Cochrane at Bellator 135 on March 27th in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Couture talked to MMAmania.com about his upcoming fight and how closely he's watching the champion, Will Brooks, when he fights Dave Jansen on April 10th. He's not looking past Dakota Cochrane, however, as he expects a grueling fight.
"I think it's a grappler vs. grappler fight, first and foremost. He comes out throwing heavy, he likes to kick, he throws a big overhand, but his bread and butter is that takedown, ground and pound. He likes to soften guys up and finish with a submission. I like to grind my way into that clinch, work for the takedown, and look for the submission once I get on top. It'll be an interesting clash of styles. I think it should make for an exciting fight."
For Couture, being in Bellator MMA is a classic case of deja vu, as he got to know Scott Coker as the Strikeforce president, and once again Coker is the man steering the ship as Couture's career continues to evolve.
"There's a lot of familiar faces now that Scott Coker has taken over and brought some of his people in. It's not exactly the same, but it's a similar feel to the old Strikeforce 'Challengers' days, and I've really been enjoying it. I feel very comfortable and I'm excited to have the opportunity to work with them all again."
If things had gone differently when the Strikeforce roster was merged with UFC, Couture might still be there today. On the other hand, given the animosity between UFC President Dana White and "The Natural," Couture's days may have been numbered no matter how well he did.
"Obviously, going 0-2 in the UFC was a bummer, but I'm very happy with where I am now, and I'm looking forward to this next phase. [Being Randy Couture's son] puts a target on my back, everybody wants to have a win over that last name."
There's no doubt it makes Ryan a target, but it also makes him a predator, as he can call shots and probably get them if he keeps winning. The question then is, who would Couture rather fight after April 10: the current champion Will Brooks, or the No. 1 contender Dave Jansen?
"Oh man, either one would be a great fight, they're both very, very talented. I think stylistically, Jansen might be a little more fun match-up for me, but I'd be thrilled with the opportunity to face off with either one of them."
Watch Ryan Couture take on Dakota Cochrane on March 27th in Thackerville, Oklahoma, live on Spike TV. MMAmania.com will have complete coverage of Bellator 135 all week long, and complete audio of our interview with Couture is below.