Will he or won't he? It's one of the big questions surrounding UFC 129 as MMA's biggest promotion gears up for its massive event at the Rogers Centre. Couture will spend much of the next two days answering queries about his future, looking back at his past and trying to avoid further speculation from fans and pundits. It will be no easy feat. His future and what's left of it is clearly on the minds of many of the 55,000 expected at the event and millions who follow the sport.
As for UFC president Dana White, he's among the group that thinks Couture isn't ready to pen his swan song just yet. Asked directly if he thinks we've seen the last of "Captain America" as an active fighter, White voiced his doubt.
"No," he said. "I'm going to go out there and say it again. I know he was chirping, he was mad at me earlier, but listen. Randy Couture, I've been saying it and you guys have been standing in front of me when I said it. This guy is one of the top 10 best in the world. And I think he's one of those guys that says, 'Yeah, I'm retiring. I'm done.' It's hard to do. You see Chuck Liddell. You don't know what I went through to get Chuck Liddell to retire. And I don't think anybody would disagree that it was time for him to retire. Who knows with this guy? I'm not saying it's not time for him to retire but who knows? He's such a competitor that every time there's something out there and he says, 'You know what? I think I can beat this guy,' I think he's going to come out and try to do it."
Perhaps White's opinion stems from the fact that Couture hasn't completely shut the door on a close. He's mentioned that the UFC is likely to approach him with other opportunities win or lose. It would probably take something major to get Couture back in the cage, a fight that truly piques his interest and fighting IQ.
It's a similar scenario that got us here. After Couture's last fight last August, he admitted he might be done unless he was offered a matchup that truly engaged him. Lyoto Machida was a fight he'd wanted for a long time, a desire he'd verbalized even in public. This time around though, he hasn't mentioned a specific circumstance that might coax his return. White, too, has no ideas on what it might take.
"I honestly don't know of another fight he wants," White said. "I'm sure there's a couple of match-ups out there. If the right thing happens, I think Randy will jump in and take the fight. And I think it's always fun to see him fight. If he's 62 and can still do it, I want to see it."
If he loses, perhaps Couture's decision will be made for him. He'd be moving further away from the championship, a position in which he spent literally half his career.
If he emerges victorious, though, he'd be on a four-fight win streak. Some find it hard to believe that Couture would go out with his momentum still rolling and his profile still high. He's amazed us before, so why not leave us with our jaws hanging as he fades out of the scene?
"I'm happy for him either way," White said. "First of all, he can go out on a win streak, go out on a high in his career, as old as he was, and literally go down as one of the greatest ever. Right here and now, we're so used to him that we really don't celebrate the f---ing incredible journey this guy has had and the incredible athlete he is. I can't get on the treadmill. I'm 42. Everything hurts. My leg hurts, my neck hurts, my back hurts. This guy is going out and fighting 22 year olds. Who does that? Look throughout history. Everyone went apes---, it was on the cover of everything when George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer. This guy is still doing it. Now we're all used to it and numb to it. In 10 years, we're all going to look back and go, 'That guy was a freak. Holy s---, he was incredible.'"
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