ESPN.com reporter Josh Gross recently caught up with UFC Hall of Famer and former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture this week. To the surprise of very few, Couture told Gross that win or lose, his upcoming fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 next weekend would be his last in mixed martial arts. To wit:
"I believe this is my last fight," Couture told ESPN.com on Monday. "I know the UFC is probably going to have other ideas, especially with acquiring Strikeforce and all that. They're probably going to try to draw me into another fight but I don't think that's going to happen. I want to stick to my guns and this is the last one."
"I will miss the competition immensely but I want to go out on my terms," Couture said. "I want to go out when I think it's time to go out and not because I lost this fight or lost that fight or because I had an injury that precludes me from training the way I want to train.
"I want to make the decision on my own."
We will have more on this throughout the week and after UFC 129, but suffice it say Couture's exemplary career is nearly beyond compare. Gross underscores a salient point worth acknowledging here:
Couture, who turns 48 in June, holds UFC records for most title reigns (six) and most championship fights (15). With his win versus Tim Sylvia in March 2007 -- his comeback fight after retiring for 13 months -- Couture, at the age of 43, became the oldest fighter to win a UFC title.
The careers of legends - both accolades and failures - are so dense they can be parsed myriad ways. We will explore Couture's participation in and contribution to MMA over the next few weeks.
It should also be noted Couture has left himself wiggle room to reverse any decision he makes now, but sources tell me after his last fight against James Toney, Couture was only interested in Machida or Mauricio Rua. Enough time has passed, however, that should he defeat Machida he would still not seek a fight with Shogun.