If there is any sport former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture most closely identifies himself with, it's that of amateur wrestling. Wrestling was and remains his most formative athletic experience. More than anything else (including mixed martial arts), wrestling has defined Couture as an athlete and a person.
As part of my conversation with Couture from last week, we discussed the current state of amateur wrestling in all of its forms and levels. In Couture's mind, the popularity of the UFC and MMA is responsible for the surge in popularity of amateur wrestling at the grassroots and collegiate level. Yet, Couture also discusses the wrestling community's reluctance to involve themselves with MMA when during the UFC's SEG-era. For all of Dan Gable's pleas for wrestling and MMA to work together, Couture argues they had that chance and it was MMA that was given the cold shoulder. If the two sports are to have meaningful working relationships again, bridges will have to be rebuilt.
In this portion of the interview, Couture discusses those issues as well as the rise of Olympian Jordan Burroughs, Title IX's impact on collegiate wrestling programs, what the future holds for Daniel Cormier, why so many fighters come from Oklahoma State University and so much more.