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UFC 105: Randy Couture Talks Brandon Vera and Fighting Until He's 50

Randy Couture had a 15-minute war with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on Aug. 29, but he didn't take any time off to recover. Instead, he agreed shortly after the Nogueira fight to take on Brandon Vera at UFC 105, which takes place Saturday in Manchester, England on Spike TV.

In an interview with FanHouse, Couture discussed crafting the right game plan for an opponent like Vera, his move down to light heavyweight, having his son in his corner for the first time, and how he stays in fighting shape at age 46.

The full interview is below.

Michael David Smith: How would you describe what kind of opponent Brandon Vera is?
Randy Couture: I think he's a striker who uses his long frame and his Muay Thai skills to stay away from guys, draw guys in and find ways to win. Thanks to those long, straight punches and his kicks, he rarely has to use his wrestling skills or his ground skills at all. It's not that he doesn't have them, but he doesn't use them effectively as an offensive weapon very much.

And since Vera has those Muay Thai skills and doesn't do a lot on the ground, is it safe to say you're going to try to take the fight to the ground?
Well, I definitely don't want to stand around and allow him to establish his range and hit his rhythm. I'd like to make it as much of a wrestling match as I can. That's what's going to put me in the best position to win.

It's certainly no surprise to hear you say that: You were an Olympic-caliber wrestler and he is more of a kickboxer. Is game planning just that simple, preparing for a fight in which you'll be able to use your own strengths and avoid the strengths of your opponent?
I've seen Brandon fight a lot and I'm very familiar with his style, with how he uses his hands, with his motion. If you're a fighter, you definitely have to fashion your training camp to work out the right game plan for your opponent, to be ready for the problems he poses and to make the right plan to beat him. I've studied the places he likes to be and where he doesn't like to be and now it's up to me to use that in the Octagon.

Before the Shogun-Machida fight at UFC 104, I had heard you were most likely next in line for a title shot if Machida beat Shogun and you beat Vera. But now that it was so close and there's going to be a Shogun-Machida rematch, do you think you get the Shogun-Machida rematch winner next, or would you need to win another fight to get a light heavyweight title shot?
I don't know. We'll see how that comes out. I don't spend too much time worrying about things I can't control. If I get a shot at Machida for the title, that would be great, but whatever happens I'm just looking for interesting fights and there are a lot of other interesting fights.

Is moving down to light heavyweight a permanent move, or could your next fight after Vera be back up at heavyweight?

I can go either way. It's not like I'm cutting much weight or changing my body drastically to make 205. That's not a huge issue for me. I'll just fight at whatever weight class will make for an interesting fight.

Are you walking around at the same weight now that you were when you were preparing for heavyweight fights?
Yes. I weighed in at 220 for my fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and I was 217 this morning before practice.

With your wrestling background is cutting weight second nature to you?
I have a lot of experience cutting weight, and there were times in my wrestling career when I cut a lot of weight. So I'm familiar with what it takes, and it's kind of a routine. I've cut to 205 pounds plenty of times and it's not a problem.

What do you think about fighting in England?
I'm excited about going to Manchester. They have a great crowd there. I've heard the fight's already sold out, and that's going to make it a lot of fun.

This is a fight that will be on Spike TV, whereas we're accustomed to your fights being on pay-per-view. Does that make a difference to you? There have been stories of some of the most popular fighters saying they don't want to fight in Europe because they rely on pay-per-view bonuses for a large chunk of their income.
I know the UFC will take care of me so I'm not terribly worried about that. It all comes out in the wash because I'm satisfied and the UFC is satisfied.

Who's going to be in your corner against Vera?
Neil Melanson is going to be my head cornerman. Gil Martinez will be there as my striking coach. Quentin Chong will be there as my Muay Thai coach and my son Ryan will accompany me as one of my cornermen for this fight, too.

Has Ryan been in your corner before?
He's never cornered me before. He's been to most of my fights, maybe even all of them, but this will be his first time cornering me.

That must be exciting for both of you.
Yeah, it'll be fun.

How is his MMA career going? I know he's had some amateur fights.
It's going well. In his last fight he won with a first-round armbar, and he's going to take a little time off, probably through the holidays, and then get a few more amateur fights and then look at stepping up to the pros.

You won't have Shawn Tompkins in your corner. Why did he leave your gym?
I think he's interested in building his own brand and we're restructuring some things at Xtreme Couture, so I think it made sense for both of us. He'll do very well where he ends up.

What will 2010 look like for you? How many times might you fight next year?
I don't really map it out, I just see which opportunities present themselves and I make those evaluations when the time comes. There are a lot of opportunities both at heavyweight and at light heavyweight and we'll just see how it unfolds.

You're taking this fight after an 11-week layoff: One of the shortest you've ever had in your career. Do you like having that little time between fights?
Yeah, that was one of the things I liked about this fight: It's a very quick turnaround and I was very healthy after the Nogueira fight, so it allows me to keep moving. The last time I fought two times in pretty quick succession were my fights against Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz [in June and September of 2003], and that worked out pretty well for me, so I feel great about it.

I know you get the question all the time, but how do you stay in good enough shape to fight twice in three months at age 46, and how much longer can you do it?
I don't know if there's any one answer. I keep my body healthy. I stay in good shape. In the last couple years I've spent a lot of time getting my blood chemistry evaluated, taking the supplements and eating the things that my blood chemistry says I should be. That's been the biggest thing the last couple years, age 45 and 46.

Is it realistic to think you could be fighting at 50?
Anything is possible. I'm not thinking that far ahead, but I'm not ruling anything out either. I'm just preparing myself for a great fight and I hope I'll have more of them.

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