Couture and the retirement that may not happen

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Couture and Lyoto staredown at weight-ins / Photo: Marcelo Dunlop

It seems highly unlikely that Randy Couture, 47, has decided to make his final fight one so far from Las Vegas and even outside the USA, but it could happen. Factors like a packed house and top-tier opponent may very well bring the nearing-fifty-year-old to stick his gloves in a frame following UFC 129 and settle down to enjoy his brood and the barbecues he loves so much, without greater obligations.

But I feel it’s remote. If he wins the battle between “speed and experience,” as Lyoto Machida dubbed it, Randy won’t be able to contain the pressure from fans to give it another go. Even so, win or lose, Couture would have a hard time keeping out of training with his students in Vegas like he used to; it’s in his blood. And when he feels at the top of his game in training he’ll get that itch to have a big farewell fight for his fans, in the USA.

“I’m feeling healthier than ever, I feel great,” he said, offering the first clue of the day. “I feel like I broke a barrier that no one has ever broken before in this sport. And I want to stop on my terms, without having to lose three fights in a row and hear everyone beg me to, please, retire once and for all. The funny thing is that it’s been ten years now that I’m hearing fans ask me, ‘How long will you be able to keep fighting,’ and now that I’ve finally made the decision people are shocked, saying, ‘No, you can’t stop now,’” said Couture with a smile.

What do you think, dear reader? Has time come for the myth to call it quits? Will the outcome of his showdown with Machida be key in that decision?

Dana White still isn’t convinced of his retirement, but he says that’s not the most important part. “What we sometimes don’t realize is that Randy’s extraordinary and how it’s historic to see him fight another time, whether this is his last one or not. He’s a phenomenon; he almost never gets hurt, the shape he’s in and his history is unbelievable. He says he wants to stop, but then he sees a fight for him, we talk on the phone, and he says, ‘You know what? I think I can fight on even terms with that kid there….’ So I don’t know if his time has come; we’ll see,” said the UFC chief last Wednesday.

The journalists understand the message, and yesterday they relished everything Randy did at the press conference in downtown Toronto, like someone delighting in the final pages of a good book. Some even got emotional.

If Randy wants it, there’s an open invitation for him to have a (last, second-to-last…) gala fight at UFC Rio. What do you think?

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