Randy ‘The natural, captain America’ Couture
Randy Duane Couture (born June 22, 1963, Lynnwood, Washington, U.S.) is a retired Greco-Roman wrestler and mixed martial arts competitor. He is the only athlete to have held championship titles in both the Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight divisions of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, earning him the nicknames “The Natural” and, later, “Captain America”. He, along with Robert Follis, also once headed Team Quest, a stable of fighters based out of Portland, Oregon. In 2005, Couture moved to Las Vegas, where he still resides.
Couture’s preferred method of offense in mixed martial arts competition was what is commonly referred to as ‘Ground and Pound’, in which a fighter utilizes his wrestling ability by taking his opponent down to the mat, establishing top position, and launching down a series of blows upon his opponent. However, in addition to his wrestling background, Couture has displayed a variety of skills in both boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and has submitted two opponents using different chokeholds.
Before entering the UFC, Randy Couture was a three-time Olympic team alternate (1988, 1992 and 1996); a semifinalist at the 2000 Olympic Trials; a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association D-I All-American; and a two-time NCAA finalist.
Randy Couture debuted in the UFC on May 30th, 1997 as part of UFC 13: The Ultimate Force. At the time, the event consisted of two four-man tournaments: one in the lightweight (under 200 lb) division and one in the heavyweight (200 lb and over) division. Couture fought in the heavyweight tournament, defeating Tony Halme and Steven Graham to win it. His next match was an elimination bout for the heavyweight title against the young Brazilian “Phenom”, Vitor Belfort. Randy scored a TKO victory.
Couture won his first Heavyweight title via decision in a 1997 match against kickboxer Maurice Smith. Couture was afterwards stripped of the title when he could not come to contractual terms with the UFC and its parent company at the time, Semaphore Entertainment Group. He returned to the UFC in 2000, where he recaptured the Heavyweight title from Kevin Randleman on November 17 of that year.
After two consecutive losses in the heavyweight division to larger opponents, including a title loss to Josh Barnett, Couture moved down a weight class to fight at 205 lb in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division where he stayed for the remainder of his fighting career. In his light-heavyweight debut, Couture took on long-time number one contender Chuck Liddell for the Interim Light-Heavyweight Championship. Couture emerged victorious by TKO in the third round, and became the only competitor to win championship titles in two weight classes. His next bout was billed as a “Champion Vs. Champion” fight in order to settle who was the rightful, undisputed champion of the division; Couture faced the five-time defending champion Tito Ortiz for the Undisputed Light-Heavyweight title. He controlled the younger Ortiz throughout the five rounds of the fight, scoring a unanimous decision and becoming UFC’s Undisputed Light-Heavyweight Champion at age 40.
On April 16, 2005, Couture lost his title and suffered the first knockout-loss of his career in a rematch with Chuck Liddell. Couture came back in August with a win over Mike van Arsdale to reestablish himself as a top contender. He faced Liddell again for the third and final time in a title match on February 4, 2006 at UFC 57; he did not succeed, however, and once again suffered a knockout-loss. Immediately after the match, he announced his retirement from the sport.