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As the UFC continues to grow their heavyweight division, it’s important to remember that Randy Couture had a memorable career before the UFC gained stars such as Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Daniel Cormier.
Raised in Everett, Washington, Couture kept himself busy at Lynnwood middle and high school. He competed on the wrestling team, won the State Championship, and went to the army from 1982 to 1988. In fact, Couture attained the rank of sergeant in the 101st Airborne.
After accidentally sending in his application to the Greco-Roman tryouts, he decided to compete, despite no previous background.
After his discharge, Couture achieved a lot before deciding to advance his career in MMA. He was a representative for the Olympics wrestling team (’88, ’92, ’96), a semifinalist in the 2000 Olympic Trials, and secured multiple runner-up titles while attending attending Oklahoma State University.
Couture made his MMA debut at UFC 13 on May 30th, 1997. He was an alternate in the Heavyweight tournament, and won it after defeating Tony Halme and Steven Graham.
This set up a heavyweight bout between Couture and Vitor Belfort, who was viewed as the heavy favorite. On October 17th, 1997, Couture delivered one of the largest upsets in UFC history when he won via TKO over Belfort. From there, Couture traveled to UFC Japan on December 21st of the same year and defeated Maurice Smith by majority decision to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
Couture was stripped of the title after the UFC attempted to book a fight between Couture and Bas Rutten. Due to Couture signing with Vale Tudo Japan, the fight never happened and Couture lost his first two fights against Enson Inoue and Mikhail Illuykhin via submission.
Couture made a comeback when he defeated Jeremy Horn and Ryushi Yanagisawa at Rings: King of Kings 2000. From there, he returned to the UFC on November 17th, 2000 and defeated Kevin Randleman to secure the UFC Heavyweight Championship once again.
Couture came back to Rings: King of Kings and defeated Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in the semifinals, but lost to Valentjin Overeem in the finals of the tournament. Going back to the UFC once again, Couture edged out Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31 in his first title defense. Couture fought Rizzo at UFC 34 in a rematch, and defeated Rizzo in the 3rd round via TKO.
At UFC 36, Randy Couture lost to Josh Barnett in the 2nd round, but it was later revealed that Barnett had tested positive for steroids. In result, Barnett was stripped of the title and cut from the UFC. Couture faced off against Ricco Rodriguez for the vacant Heavyweight title at UFC 39, but in the 5th round, he broke his orbital bone and tapped out.
The injury forced Couture to drop to 205 lbs, where he secured the Light Heavyweight title on two occasions. In addition, Couture saw a trilogy series with Chuck Liddell and Belfort. Before jumping back to the Heavyweight division, he posted a 14-8 UFC record.
Couture defeated Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 to win the Heavyweight Championship, marking his third reign as champion in the Heavyweight division. Couture then successfully defended the title against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 before eventually giving it up to Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 via TKO.
In the final fight of his career, Randy Couture lost to Lyoto Machida. During the span of a 15-year career, he has secured the Heavyweight title on 3 occasions, and the Light Heavyweight title once.
Featured Image: MMA Mania