Now the 47-year-old Hall of Famer has spoken, and while he didn't flat out say he was done, it seems clear that Couture's fighting future is hazy at best, or as his lawyer Sam Spira termed it, a "toss-up."
"I don't think I'm going to make any public announcements because I don't think anybody's going to buy it," Couture said in comments which aired on Thursday's edition of ESPN's MMA Live. "I did that once and came back. I don't want to be like Brett [Favre]. I do feel like I've had my wars, I've had my battles. I've been there, I've done that. I am competing and training and feel better than I ever felt physically but I don't see myself making another run at the title, at heavyweight or light-heavyweight, being honest."
Such a candid self-assessment and public admission is rare from an athlete who has accomplished so much in a storied career.
Couture (19-10) will always be considered one of the building blocks for the foundations of modern MMA and the rise of the UFC. A former Olympic wrestling hopeful, he transitioned into the sport just one month shy of his 34th birthday.
Within four matches, he was the UFC heavyweight champion, earning the nickname "The Natural" in the process. The first man ever to win titles in two UFC weight classes, Couture has been an enduring figure in the UFC while other stars came and went. It's clear from his comments that he's given way to the new class of athletes populating the top of the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, and confirmed that fights against top contenders may no longer be the right decision for him long-term.
Couture has also been working hard to transition into acting, and had a role in the summer blockbuster The Expendables. All of that adds up to the possibility that we've seen the last of Couture in the cage.
"I think at some point, I've got to call enough, enough," he said. "I've had an amazing year. My last few fights in honesty were more novelty fights. Not to take anything away from my opponents, but that's the truth of the matter. They didn't really matter in the division, they didn't really put me any closer to a title, and I have to make a decision at some point. So I think I would entertain another novelty-type fight. I could still compete but I don't see myself making a run at the title any time soon."