Randy Couture "officially" announced his retirement from MMA following a front-kick KO loss to Lyoto Machida. This is the second such announcement for "The Natural", but this time seemed to be more well thought out and planned. Maybe it's that I trust the elderly to much, but I actually believe him this time. Unless Couture can get something booked with Fedor, I just don't see him coming back for another fight. In honor of Couture's very storied career, we will take a look back at all of Couture's submission victories.
Couture was never known for his flying submissions or slick jiu jitsu game but he was a very good all around fighter. Couture is a black belt in Neil Melanson's Submission wrestling system. Although Couture never had much of an offensive jiu jitsu game, minus the James Toney fight, he displayed excellent technique on quite a few occasions. Most notably against one of MMA's top submission artists in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Nogueira was very close to finishing Couture in an arm triangle but Randy stayed calm and escaped with good technique. Something few have done against a guy like Nogeiura. So let's take a look at fights where Couture used his submission wrestling ability to get the victory. We'll breakdown all of his submission wins one by one. All 4 of them.
Randy Couture vs Tony Halme: UFC 13
Couture's first submission victory came in his debut to the UFC. Couture made his debut at UFC 13 against a much bigger opponent in Tony Halme. Halme stood 6'4" and 300 pounds. Couture recalled that night standing across from Tony:
"Scared [expletive] comes to mind, I didn't see the [prefight video interviews but] my Mom was actually watching it on television from Seattle and started crying when he started talking about how he was going to rip my arms off. He was a 300-pound man, I was like 'what have I gotten myself into? It was pretty crazy"
In the opening seconds of the match, Halme came across the ring, fist cocked, and Couture used his dynamic wrestling to quickly get the takedown. Once it hit the floor, it was all Couture. He quickly transitioned from side control to back control, flattened Halme out and sunk in the rear naked choke. The whole sequence was actually very impressive. For a man of his size with a wrestling base, he moved very well from position to position and sunk in a nice deep choke in only 56 seconds. Couture was a promising prospect at this point and no one knew what was in store for the future of the UFC and Randy.
Randy Couture vs Mike Van Arsdale: UFC 54
Randy Couture was paired against another great wrestler in Mike Van Arsdale at UFC 54: Boiling Point. Couture was coming off his first loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 52. Couture was knocked out in the first round by Liddell and lost the Light Heavyweight Belt. Couture was looking to rebound and get that third fight in the Couture vs Liddell trilogy. Standing in the way of the rematch was Van Arsdale.
It was a matchup of great wrestlers with both men having shining moments in the fight. Van Arsdale had a spectacular throw on Randy in the early goings of the fight but Randy did what he does best and used ground and pound and some dirty boxing to get the better of Van Arsdale for most of the first two rounds.
The third round started and Couture was able to take Van Arsdale down and pin him on the fence. Couture ended up in the front headlock position, a very common position for two wrestlers to be in. Couture cinched the forearm across the neck and latched in an anaconda choke. Randy rolled with the choke and a very tired Mike Van Arsdale was forced to tap.
Van Arsdale was a very good opponent and in a battle of great wrestlers, Couture used jiu jitsu to gain the upper hand. This fight got Couture the rematch he was looking for and racked up his second submission victory in his professional MMA career.
Randy Couture vs Mark Coleman: UFC 109
Randy was matched against Mark Coleman in a curious set of matchmaking at UFC 109: Relentless. Both men were nearing the end of their careers and although it was labeled as a "title contenders" match, neither man would ever get the shot at the belt. It may have had something to do with the fact that the combined age in this matchup was 92.
Coleman looked like the much older fighter and Couture was able to dominate for most of the fight. Couture used his superior boxing to press Coleman against the fence. From there, it was more signature dirty boxing from Couture which left Coleman winded and looking dejected by the end of the round.
The second round was more of the same. Couture landed a solid left hook and pushed Coleman against the fence. From there, Couture easily took down the 45 year old Coleman. Once on the ground, Couture flurried with more ground and pound until he was able to gain back control. With Coleman dazed, Couture sunk his hooks in and get the arm under the chin. Coleman refused to tap even though the choke was deep and was eventually choked unconcious.
Coleman was released by the UFC following the bout while Couture would go onto to fight "mega-mouth" James Toney. Speaking of that guy.
Randy Couture vs James Toney: UFC 118
Randy's second to last fight in the octagon might have been the most interesting fight of his career. Couture would be paired against World Boxing Champion James Toney. Toney was heavily feared during his reign as boxing champ and came into MMA with some of the most feared hands in the sport.
Upon rumors of the fight, many labeled it a "freak matchup" and dismissed it as garbage. But once Toney got his mouth rolling, interest in the fight gained some steam. In the weeks and days leading up to the fight, Toney was full of things to say Toney was quoted as calling Couture "a princess" and "garbage". Couture welcomed the fight with open arms and remained relatively silent in most of the trash talk. There's a saying that "actions speak louder than words" and never was it on better display than at UFC 118.
In the opening moments of the bout, Couture shot for a sloppy takedown. Luckily for Couture, Toney looked as if he had no idea this was even allowed and stumbled to the mat. The phrase "fish out of water" doesn't even come close to describing what happened to James Toney. Couture mounted him and reigned down punches from top position. Toney had no defense and the end was closing in fast.
Much to my enjoyment, instead of grounding and pounding to a stoppage, Couture locked in an arm triangle from mount. With the submission locked in, Couture transition to the side and Toney was forced to tap. There's just something special about seeing someone who has so much to say being choked out of all their oxygen.
Toney was quickly tossed from the UFC and Couture put a collective smile on MMA fans faces nation wide.
So there you have it. A brief look at all of Couture's professional MMA submission wins. It was an incredible career for "The Natural" and has added much enjoyment to the fights for many many years. So time to hear from you! Which Couture fight was your favorite and why? Do you think we'll ever see him back in the octagon? Let me know in the comments section below.