By Randy Couture
Welcome to my first edition of what I hope will become a regular column for me here at The Fight Network with my ?Couture Chronicles.? What better way to begin my journey with you then on the night I end my year-long retirement from competing in the sport I adore ? mixed martial arts.
As many of you watched tonight on Spike TV, I officially announced my return to the Octagon to face UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia at March 3?s UFC 68 ?The Uprising,? which will be held at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
I?m sure there are a lot of questions regarding my decision, my reasons for coming back. I can tell you a year ago, I was dead serious about my retirement from the sport I?d made my name in.
Standing in the Octagon, just minutes after my second loss to UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, I raised my gloves in the air with the intention to never step inside the cage again as a competitor.
The last year has been a miraculous one for me. Thanks to the support of you, the fans, and your unwavering faith in me, I have become a proud ambassador for the sport.
I competed in and finished my first adventure race in March: kayaking down the majestic Colorado River; trekking 40 miles through the Moab, Utah mountain terrain; rappelling some 275 feet down its side; and finishing it off with a six-mile run.
In July, I traveled some 22 hours to Iraq and experienced firsthand, the lives of the brave men and women defending our country.
I had my first speaking role in a major studio motion picture with Rob Schneider, and visited Monaco in September, training His Majesty?s personal bodyguards.
Most gratifying of all, I?ve had the opportunity to visit America from coast-to-coast, representing the sport through countless seminars and personal appearances, shaking hands with old and new MMA fans alike.
The first six months of retirement, I absolutely was happy. The divorce settled, the dust settled, and on a personal note, I felt a lot more like myself. In that time, I got to settle a lot of things that were going on with my family and my ex-wife and all this other stuff that was a huge emotional distraction for me. My wife Kim was a huge piece of getting me through that and she had her own trials and tribulations through that whole thing as well. We both supported each other and we felt like we came out the other side.
Then six months ago, a little itch came over me. Six months ago, the idea to start competing again in something became real for me and the thing I feel like I?m best at is fighting.
I definitely questioned the decision, went back-and-forth. Friends were constantly texting me, ?You need to come back and beat the giant. You need to come back and be the heavyweight champion again. You look healthier and you look like yourself again at heavyweight. Get your butt in shape and come back and beat the giant.?
Even Kim said, ?You can beat these guys. You should go back and fight Chuck Liddell or fight Tito Ortiz again. You can beat Tim Sylvia. Look at that heavyweight. You can compete with that heavyweight.? My wife was as excited about the sport and me making a comeback as anybody. Returning briefly to the spotlight to face Ronaldo ?Jacare? de Souza for a grappling match in the Professional Submission League didn?t hurt things either.
Sitting cageside at UFC 65 on November 18, with the deafening crowds at Sacramento?s Arco Arena building into delirium, I made up my mind. Watching UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia fight Jeff Monson, knowing both competitors very well, that?s really when the thought took hold and I became serious about it.
I was giving Tim the benefit of the doubt against Andrei Arlovski a few months earlier. Andrei is a very explosive fighter and with both fighters having knocked each other out, a conservative approach to a guy like Andrei was probably warranted. I thought that both guys fought the same way. They both fought not to lose rather than go out and take a risk and really get after it and fight to do something spectacular and win that championship.
Tim turned around and kind of took the same approach with Monson after he clearly dominated the first couple of rounds, not just on its feet, but by eliminating the only worry and hope Jeff had for winning the fight on the ground. Tim basically answered the question: can Sylvia go with Jeff Monson on the ground? Not only could he go with him; he had him in a triangle and everything else. I think at that point I expected Tim to show that same fervor that he showed against ?Cabbage? and Ricco Rodriguez and in some of his other fights when he was aspiring to be the heavyweight champion. He was clearly the superior striker and again, took that same conservative demeanor, not to lose, instead of trying to put an exclamation point on his performance.
I think just seeing that and analyzing that made me realize that I could get in there and I could beat these guys.
In the last few weeks, Mirko ?Cro Cop? Filipovic has come on the radar, obviously another top fighter who?d be another interesting fight. Tim?s standing there with the title and needing an opponent, and is also, I think, an interesting and formidable opponent.
It has always been about the competition for me. These are some interesting fights. These fights excite me. These fights challenge me. Even at 43 years of age, I have more things I can accomplish and more things that I can do. In my opinion, I can still compete with these guys and beat them.
Am I doing the right thing? Is this stupid? Is this another Michael Jordan-esque stunt, another pro athlete that can?t let go? I don?t feel like that. I?ve enjoyed doing commentary and all the other things that have kept me busy. I don?t think it?s a huge issue of letting go.
Hell, maybe I?m just kidding myself and Tim?s going to point it out to me. I don?t think that?s the case. I guess we?ll find out on March 3. Maybe I just don?t have it anymore and I?m just as crazy as everyone thinks I am.
If you feel this legend should stay retired, then let this ?old man? live out his glory days, at least one more time. If you believe I?ve still got in me, like I believe I do, then come along for the ride. Regardless, I will fight my heart out for you come March 3.
I just feel like I?ve got more fighting in me to do.
Visit Randy Couture?s official Web site at www.thenatural.tv, his supplement line at www.couturenutrition.com, and his clothing line at www.xtremecouture.tv
POSTED – 01/12/07[/quote]
Great post by Randy. It’s hard not to root for the guy.