M + F magazine
Randy Couture has not stepped into the Octagon since retiring more than a decade ago, and yet remains one of MMA's most recognizable faces. His successes in the Hall of Fame include his legendary fights with the icons Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. He became the first UFC fighter to win both the light heavyweight and heavyweight championship few.
Now, at the age of 56, "The Natural" was still training like a champion until a health crisis in October destroyed almost all future plans.
"I was training in the Unbreakable (Performance Center), finished the training and felt like shit," Couture said recently in a series of reps. "I just couldn't stop sweating and I had this strange pain. I popped my ribs before, so I thought I somehow popped a rib while training. "
Couture immediately did what was taken for granted – he tried to roll out the pain. After going home and drinking a recreational drink, he immediately vomited. That was the warning sign he needed, and he and his girlfriend quickly went to the hospital. As soon as he was connected to an EKG, he said: "Hell is going on." It was confirmed that he had a heart attack.
"Damn, it's a bitch that is getting old, isn't it?" Couture thought first. "I'm like on a foam roller trying to roll out my rib and I'm having a heart attack."
It soon turned out that Couture had a blood clot in his diagonal artery. They could clear it and pause to keep the artery open, but the doctors informed him that he would have come half an hour later and died.
"Sometimes, until something breaks or happens, you don't really know you have to be more careful," he says. I also had a car accident or clash in Oregon in 1994 and I broke a few ribs and stung my lungs and they think I probably damaged this main artery a little bit. So there is some scar tissue and plaque. "
After couture has overcome fear, it is much smarter today when it comes to training. It mainly focuses on strength and stamina and mixes with some light sparring.
He continues to be associated with professional fights and has contributed his expertise as a color commentator for the Professional Fighters League (PFL), whose PFL championship will take place on New Year's Eve in Madison Square Garden. Couture is also a fan of the league's business model, as it's where the best fighters compete and some have to win two playoffs in one night to fight for the championship.
"In these five fights, you can follow a fighter on his way and see who wins the championship," he says. "And you get to know them, whether you're cheering for them or against them, you're still getting to know these guys."
That's not all Couture is up to – he expects to start filming the fourth installment of The Expendables in the spring. His adrenaline-filled days in the professional competition are over, but filming the series gives him the chance to mix it up.
Dolph Lundgren appeared while filming Expendables 2 and Couture did a little sparring with him. He just had to think about how he would have fared against the martial artist.
"He's a big, big guy. Long, rangy, ”said Couture. “(You) better find out how to get past these exchange rates and whether he can stop a double leg in a hurry. Or it will pose some very significant problems for you. There may be stitches in the near future. "
While most things are controlled on the set, trying to choreograph the instinct of a former professional fighter can be as difficult as being in the ring with him.
"I ran over Jet Li in Cradle 2 the Grave," says Couture. “In our one-fight scene, I literally mowed it. He didn't go out of his way. I thought the director was going crazy that I just walked over the star of his film, but he says, "Oh, I'm not a fighter. I am a martial artist. "
Outside of his daily work, couture is looking for more ways to present himself outside of his physicality. Platforms like "Dancing with the Stars", "Lip Sync Battle" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway" have given him these opportunities and helped him to reach new fan bases. But since his nature was during his professional career, he wants more.
"Most people don't know that I write poetry," he says. “Most don't know that I have a degree in foreign language and literature. All they know is the guy who got in the cage and slapped people in the face. So develop more fans, a larger fan base, so that people can see the other sides of you. "