Randy Couture Is Not A Legend


Randy CoutureYeah, I said it. Randy Couture is not a legend! Commonly referred to in the UFC as a “legend” and someone who has revolutionized the sport, Couture is arguably the most popular MMA and fighter in history. Sure, he’s popular but is popularity the only factor that determines “legendary” status?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a legend as “one popularly regarded as historical” and “a person that inspires legends”. So, in the literal sense, since Couture is indeed “historical” and “inspirational”, he is a legend.

Now let’s take the perceived definition of a legend. When most of us hear that someone was a legend of their sport, we think of someone who was far superior than their peers; someone who put on performances that our children will be reading about and watching 30 years from now; someone who was a constant winner.

Was Randy Couture any of these? Is there any concrete proof that “The Natural” was far superior than the people he fought alongside of? Did Couture compete in matches that our kids will be looking back on years from now in the way that we look back on the clutch performances of Michael Jordan or Tom Brady? Was Couture a winner? The easiest way to answer these questions is to look at the numbers. As the old adage states, “the numbers don’t lie.” The answer to each of these questions is an unequivocal, NO!

[adinserter block=”1″]Couture was a bit of a late-starter on the MMA scene. He was 34 when he had his first professional fight against Tony Halme (late WWF star Ludvig Borga) at UFC 13 in the first match of a one-night, 4-man Heavyweight tournament. This would be the first of many times in his career where Couture would be the “David” facing off against a “Goliath”. Couture choked out Halme in just a minute despite being out-weighed by 100 lbs. That same night, he overcame a 70 lb. weight advantage and scored a TKO victory over Steven Graham in a little over three minutes. There stood an old, inexperienced, undersized, yet, victorious Randy Couture basking in the cheers of a crowd that he had just won over for the first of many times. It was a sign of things to come.

It would be Couture’s next fight against a 19-year old Gracie black belt named Vitor Belfort that would add a new layer onto Couture’s legacy. His first two fights painted the picture of a grizzly rookie who could beat even the biggest people in MMA. Even at 15-years-his-junior, Belfort was a heavy favorite. For all 8 minutes, 17 seconds of the fight, Belfort was completely outworked by Couture. Couture exhibited better standup, better grappling, and was far better on the ground. With this win, Couture became the number one contender for the UFC Heavyweight title. This was the fight where Couture became known as a master-strategist. A few months later, Couture earned his first title by defeating Maurice Smith by decision.

If this article were about Couture’s rise to fame and his popularity, I’d continue to chronicle his each and every match. This article isn’t about that, however; it’s about how a guy who started out as a 34 year old rookie that quickly earned the backing of the fans by being an underdog master-strategist has been branded incorrectly as an MMA “legend”.

Don Kelley of MMALinker.com recently posted an article on how Couture, despite his record, is a legend of the sport and should be regarded as one of the best. Kelley went through many of Couture’s biggest matches and explained exactly what Couture did in those matches to earn his titles as a master-strategist and all-time great. In his closing, he explains: “Out of his 17-10 record, 14 of those fights were title fights; Fourteen. Not too many fighters can say they have fought for the title 14 times. 3 of those fights won him the heavyweight title, 2 of them won him the light heavyweight belt, and 9 of those fights were defending his belts or fighting for a belt. What other fighter’s record, in all of MMA, can make a claim like that?”

After all of that, we can conclude that there are 5 reasons why people consider Randy Couture a “legend”. They are because he was very often undersized, often considered to be over-matched, won titles in multiple weight classes multiple times, helped to put MMA in the mainstream, and finally, he did all of this between the ages of 34 and 46. All 5 of these things are true, but it doesn’t make Couture a legend. I think that most fans have taken these 5 factors and run with them. Randy Couture might have skill, popularity, a lion heart, and longevity on his side, but he’s still not a legend.

Randy Couture sure did win the UFC Heavyweight title 3 times. Since he’s not the current UFC Heavyweight Champ, it also means he’s lost it 3 times. He was stripped the first time, lost his second Heavyweight Title to Josh Barnett, and lost his third to Brock Lesnar. After losing his second Heavyweight Title to Barnett, his very next match was for the same belt he had just lost when Barnett was stripped of the belt after testing positive for anabolic steroids. Couture fought Ricco Rodriguez for the vacant title and lost that match as well. So, Couture was in 9 fights that involved the heavyweight title in some way or another.

In these 9 fights, Couture went 6-3 with his 6 wins coming over Maurice Smith, Kevin Randleman, Pedro Rizzo twice, Tim Sylvia, and Gabriel Gonzaga. His 3 losses were thanks to Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez, and Brock Lesnar. It doesn’t take a diehard MMA fan to figure out that the 6 heavyweight’s that Couture beat were nowhere near as good as the 3 that he lost to. Couture beat the mediocre heavyweights and lost to the ones that were actually good. The “Couture was under-sized” argument is moot. Everyone knows that the Heavyweight division is fought by guys between the weights of 205 and 265. It is what it is. If Couture chose to fight in these fights at 220, then that’s on him. He could have put on the weight to be more on par with the guys he was facing. If we’re in a race and you run forwards while I run backwards, we’re still racing.

Randy Couture also was a 3 time UFC Light Heavyweight champion as well; granted, one of these was as an interim champ. The record books still count that as being a champion, so we must as well. It should be pointed out, however, that he only won the Light Heavyweight Title by beating the Light Heavyweight champion twice. Couture fought 6 matches that involved the Light Heavyweight Title in some way or another. In those 6 fights, Couture went 3-3. His 3 wins were the interim title win over Chuck Liddell and the two title victories over Tito Ortiz and Vitor Belfort. His 3 losses came at the hands of Vitor Belfort once and Chuck Liddell twice. A 3-3 record in the most competitive division in MMA seems average to me; not legendary. Earlier I stated that a legend is someone who was far superior than their peers; someone who put on performances that our children will be reading about and watching 30 years from now, and someone who was a constant winner. A 3-3 record shows that Couture was not more superior then his peers and was not a consistent winner. In my opinion, a legend is someone who learns from their losses and mistakes, improves upon them, and comes back a winner. By losing 2 out of 3 to Liddell, Couture proved that Liddell was indeed the superior of the 2. Liddell learned from his lone loss to Couture in their first match and beat him 2 more times to prove that. That doesn’t sound very “master-strategist” like if you ask me.

Couture’s record in itself shows why he is not a legend. He is 18-10. That’s a .643 win percentage which would be great if this were the MLB or NBA. In MMA, a .643 win percentage is mediocre at best. A guy who, on average, loses once every 3 fights isn’t a legend. In fact, that trend gets most people fired from the UFC. Ask Mark Coleman who, at a very comparable 16-10, was just given the boot after a defeat from Couture. And let’s take a closer look at some of Couture’s 10 losses. A few of those blemishes come at the hands of Valentin Overeem (26-25), Enson Inou (11-8), and Mikhail Illoukhine (27-11). Granted the losses to Inou and Illoukhine were at the beginning of his career, the loss to Overeem was while Couture was the UFC Heavyweight Champion for the second time. His loss to Overeem was by guillotine choke just 56-seconds into the match. Really? Couture at the prime of his career loses to a guy who, at the time, was 16-7? So not legendary.

[adinserter block=”2″]Let’s talk more about the prime of Couture’s career. Since Couture started late, the prime of his career was a little later. Couture had his best, most memorable matches from 2002 until 2007. During those 5 years, Couture fought 11 times with 10 of those fights having some sort of title implications. In these 11 fights during the prime of his career, Couture was a mediocre 6-5. In the PRIME OF HIS CAREER, Couture put up a record of 6-5. Here’s an even better stat. From January 31, 2004 until March 3, 2007, he actually alternated wins and losses. A 3 year span in the prime of his career where Couture couldn’t string together back-to-back wins. Another important thing that a legend tends to do is finish fights in great fashion. Couture, unfortunately, has never been that type of guy either. In fact, 44% of his fights were the result of a decision. (And that’s including the BS decision win that was gifted to him at the expense of Brandon Vera.) But don’t worry – he’s been given a pass because he was smaller than his opponents, was old, and was popular.

One good way to determine exactly how good someone truly is, is by considering how good they would be against other fighters commonly referred to as legends. Is there anyone on this earth who thinks that Couture in his prime (the almighty, invincible, 6-5 prime in which he lost to some guy named Valentin Overeem) could beat the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St. Pierre, BJ Penn, or Anderson Silva? (Side note: I know GSP and BJ Penn are in different weight classes, but since Couture has been given a free pass since he was much smaller than some of his opponents, than these guys should be granted the common courtesy.) The answer is NO. Those 4 would rip Couture apart from limb to limb without a doubt in my mind. Pound for pound, Couture isn’t in the top 10 now and isn’t in the top 10 pound for pound of all time.

It’s time to take the numbers for what they are; the truth. Let’s call a spade a spade. Randy Couture is no legend. Randy Couture is a fraud. Randy Couture is the most popular and profitable fighter of all-time. Randy Couture is one hell of a wrestler and striker. “The Natural” has the heart of a lion and has fought people much bigger than him. He started the sport at an age where most have given up. He continues to excel at the sport at a time when others are multiple years removed and permanently damaged from it. He’s won just as many belts as he’s lost and he’s done it at 205 and above. He’s one of the 3 or 4 people responsible for putting the UFC on the map.

But, make no mistake about it, he wasn’t far superior to his peers; he hasn’t put on multiple performances that our kids will talk about in 30 years; and he wasn’t a consistent winner in a sport where your wins and losses trump all other stats. You live by the sword and you die by the sword. In a sport where people get canned on a daily basis for not winning enough, Randy Couture has received his pass long enough. Dana White can continue milking the Couture-Cash Cow by feeding him easy match after easy match while proclaiming that he’s a legit contender, but we’re not buying it anymore. Randy Couture may be popular and may be a warrior, but Randy Couture is no legend.

Randy Couture is not a legend.

Brett is 26 years old and from Millville, NJ. He has is a life-log fan of the Philadelphia sports teams as well as the Boston red Sox and Cincinnati Bengals. Brett is also a big fan of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. If you would like to comment on one of his stories, please e-mail him at Brettley916@aol.com

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  1. Just what I was looking for! I was searching for free classified advertising and classified related articles when I came across your website post on Yahoo. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the share. I've bookmarked this post for future reference đŸ™‚ Nice post – Thanks

  2. Randy has been in the cage with at least 10 fighters who at 1 time or another have been top 10 Heavyweight or Light Heavyweight fighters in the world. Saying he isn't a legend is like saying Bill Clinton didn't have sex in the White House… that's just obsurd. Oh by the way… Fedor is 1 of the most over rated fighters in the world. Yes he has fought some great fighters BUT his record (31-1, 1 NC) is too fluffed fighting a bunch of nobodies.

    Brett… my biggest problem is the fact that you can say Royce Gracie is a legend (I AGREE) but Randy isn't. Royce fought during a time where BJJ was the dominant martial art and he basically beat a bunch of nobodies as well. But the thing that makes him a legend is the fact that he helped revolutionized MMA into what it is now. Thats what makes him a legend. Randy kind of had that same X factor that makes him have that legendary status.

  3. Do you realize that he came back and fought Brock? He was undersized 60 pounds and 14 years older and had the guts to fight him. Do you realize that he sought out a fight with Fedor (and Fedor is really one to talk about beating nobodies; uhh Brett Rogers?). Randy is loved because he is fearless. Because he took on giants. Because he was WAY to old to be competing with them. And your percieved definition is bogus. Nobody is a "constant winner". Tom Brady and Micheal Jordan both lost games during the regular season. They did not always win. And lets not forget that football and basketball are TEAM sports. Brady and Jordan both had off-days were their team saved them. The sport of MMA cannot be compared to football or basketball. Your definition stems from these sports. MMA is full of surprise losses. Most notably Matt Serra vs. GSP. Randy is a great fighter. And children WILL look back and talk about how he fought the giants and won. How he dominated Tito. How he beat fellow Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell. Maybe you should have included in your percieved definition of a legend "someone who is fearless and defies odds….repeatedly". That is Randy. He is a true LEGEND. Nice try, but the Merriam-Webster dictionary doesn't lie.

  4. LMAO Brett Im a girl, my ex is a guy! He hates GSP because well…… just look at him and on top of that, how freakn talented he is… Anyways, I think I write like a guy because this happens alot đŸ™‚

  5. KL – If you ex hates a TRUE legend like GSP, I'm glad she's your ex. And I agree 100% with your thoughts on Couture. I'm not taking anything away from the type of guy or fighter he is….I'm just saying that he's not one of the best ever.

    Robert – Thanks for not reading the article at all. Had you of done that, you would have seen the issue with someone who "regained" the belt multiple times. Like I said above….when you’re shoved into a title match every single fight due to your popularity, of course you’re going to rack up belts. If he were such a great champion, why did he never have a long title reign with any belt? His longest reign was with his second Heavyweight Title reign and he successfully defended it twice (not counting the 2 fights he took in Japan while he was the champ in which he LOST BOTH). As a Light heavyweight champion (not counting the interim title), he NEVER ONCE successfully defended his belt. He won the belt against Tito, then lost it to Vitor, then won it back from Vitor, and than lost it to Chuck. Not ONE successful defense…this guy is a "legend" but has never had even 1 long, successful reign with any belt on any level? Give me a break.

    And how is a 46 year old who won (a BS decision, btw) over Brandon Vera and Mark Coleman on his way back to the top? Congrats goes to him.,.he just beat the 15 and 16th best lightweight in the UFC. Clearly that means he's on his way back to the top.

    And yes, his record is just one of the many reason in this article (that you clearly didn't read) of why he isn't worthy of a legend title. Can you imagine if Muhammed Ali held a .643 winning percentage? Would he still also be a legend if he was 39-22 (the same win percentage as Couture) instead of the 56-5 that he put up? In a sport where the true legends have low single-digit losses, how is a guy who loses once every 3 times he steps into the cage a "legend"?

    It's your opinion that he's a legend just like it's my opinion that he's not. Not "hating", just stating the facts.

  6. Okay so you say he's not a legand because of his record? My question is how is he not legand? Don't look at his record, look at the things he's done! He has regained the UFC championchip belt multiple times and beat some big names. He's 46 years old and he's on his way back to the top. Randy is thee only LEGEND that has done that. He is a hall of famer and a legend. It's your opinion that he's not. Hater!

  7. LMAO! Look how fired up u got over my little comment! Dude relax…. So u hate Couture, my "ex" hates GSP because I freakn dig 'em so whatever…… I 4 one love Coutures attitude and willingness to fight whomever the UFC says. No excuses for Couture, the guy just goes out there and fights, win or lose. The mans got balls! A true warrior and I dig him for that đŸ™‚

  8. Just wanted to post this e-mail feedback I received from a reader:

    "Very well written and unbiased article. I myself got tired of mma fans saying he would destroy Fedor. All you have to do is look at how he did against bigger HW . Against Sylvia well Fedor's complete annihilation of the same man did not bode well for Couture. Thought is was rather suspicious that Randy himself didn't seem to talk about fighting Fedor so much after that. And well against Gonzaga it was like watching Tyson fights of old, the whole time waiting for Gabriel to connect with a strike turning Couture's lights out. Randy 's heart is of a lion, but pure skill he is not in the top 10. Captain's Americas hype can be attributed to UFC PR machine and as a business in promotions they do a good job. Mr Liddell and alot of their TUF alumni get the same over hyped over exaggeration of their true skills cause it sells tickets. Your article was right on the money and could easily be written about Chucks unearned infamy."

  9. We're not "hating on Randy." Just stating that a guy who is 18-10 is not worthy of being called a legend. Fedor is 30-1. Anderson Silva is 25-4. Dan Henderson is 25-7. Georges St. Pierre is 19-2….hell, Dan Severn was 91-16. By calling Couture a "legend", the UFC is taking a term that is used to describe the greats of a sport and giving it to a guy who has been nothing but mediocre.

    People aren't out calling Dale Earnhardt Jr a legend because he's won a few races and he's, hands-down, the most popular race car driver around. You know why? Because the guy doesn't win. If you want to be classified a legend of your sport, you must win. 18-10 in MMA is now the record of a winner.

    Furthermore, I'm sick of people saying "well, he won this many belts"…when you're shoved into a title match every single fight due to your popularity, of course you're going to rack up belts. If he were such a great champion, why did he never have a long title reign with any belt? His longest reign was with his second Heavyweight Title reign and he successfully defended it twice (not counting the 2 fights he took in Japan while he was the champ in which he LOST BOTH).

    As a Light heavyweight champion (not counting the interim title), he NEVER ONCE successfully defended his belt. He won the belt against Tito, then lost it to Vitor, then won it back from Vitor, and than lost it to Chuck. Not ONE successful defense. I wish I would have brought this up in my article…this guy is a legend but has never had even 1 long, successful reign with any belt on any level? Give me a break.

    And I thank you for "wasting your time" reading this. Continue living in your little UFC-pushed Couture-Cloud-9.

  10. Thanks for the replies guys.

    I know that Couture is extremely skilled. I have no doubts about that. What he's done at his age is incredible. Like my article says, however, his skill and age don't equate being called an all-time great. I have no "spiteful venom" against Couture whatsoever. I like him and I enjoy watching him fight.

    When I think the greatest fighters ever, off the top of my head I'll take Royce Gracie, Helio Gracie, Fedor, Anderson Silva, GSP, and Dan Severn.

    Randy is extremely classy and plays the underdog role quite well. I hope he continues fighting for as long as he can remain competitive. But to be called, over and over again, the greatest of all-time is a joke. The greatest of all time would have a better record than 18-10. Being nice, classy, popular, and an underdog doesn't make anyone the greatest of anything unless it's a popularity contest.

    • You know and I may be treading on dangerous ground here, but I don't exactly know how "classy" he really is. He does get a bit of a free pass if you ask for me for some past indiscretions. After all, he did walk away from the UFC as champion and hold up the belt to try and work out a deal with the competitor Affliction to fight Fedor. Hey, business is business but he gets treated as a great ambassador for the UFC when in reality his end goal was to hurt UFC financially by leaving them high and dry without a champion and at the same time, working as their champion for the competition.

      Not too mention what Tito Ortiz told me about his experiences with Randy when I interviewed him a few years ago.

      I just think that Randy gets a very big pass for some of his past actions, walking out for the big money Fedor fight in particular.

  11. w0w – I really hoped that you convinced yourself with this article

    Because anyone who does not have spiteful venom against Couture can clearly see this for what it is – rambling rant while comparing apples to oranges

    Show me what you consider as MMA legend & then compare Couture, even against the list you provide (thoughtless rip from current PFP best) – he would do fairly well, you might even through in No. 5 – Lyoto Machida.

    But what is another title worth (4th LHW) if you lost it already 3 times, right?

  12. 100% agree with all your points.

    Except for one. I think you see legendary and skilled as the same thing – which they should be in a perfect world but simply aren't. To me (and maybe it's because English is not my first language) the word legend implies that people "tell stories" about something or someone, whether they are true or not. And if Couture is one of the most popular figures of the sport, it's for a reason. His popularity now means that people will talk about him more than about other fighters. There might be more skilled fighters out there, but people will tell and hear stories about Couture. These stories("legends") make him legendary to me.

    Compare it to US presidents. Was George W. Bush among the top 5 presidents the USA ever had in terms of having the skills to run the country? Probably not. Will he among the top 5 most talked about for many, many generations to come? Probably. Does that make him legendary? Probably.

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