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Kim Couture Holds No Grudge Against Referee Who Let Choke Stay on Too Long

It was another Kim Couture fight that ended in another viral video, and for all the wrong reasons. After she was choked out in the first round of her bout with Sheila Bird on Friday night in Calgary's AX Combat event, video of Couture's latest loss made the internet rounds not so much for any one fighter's actions, but rather for the referee's lack of it.

Referee Len Koivisto seemed to be the last to realize that the leg-scissor choke had put Couture out, but Couture -- the ex-wife of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture -- told MMA Fighting on Monday afternoon that she bears no ill will toward the slow-to-act official.

"I didn't have a problem with it," Couture said. "I'd rather have it go a little bit too long than an early stoppage, so I didn't have a problem."

Couture said she was trying to wedge her hand between Bird's legs to relieve the pressure of the choke when she lost consciousness, her right leg going limp on the mat. Almost ten seconds passed before Koivisto noticed that her left leg had also gone limp and moved in to check on her before finally stopping the bout at 1:48 of the first round.

After the bout, Couture said, Koivisto came to check on her in the locker room.

"He came to make sure I was okay and he apologized," she said. "People were already giving him flack because it was a little late of a stoppage, so he said he wanted to make sure I was okay and if I thought it was a late stoppage he apologized. I told him I was sound asleep, so I didn't know. I hadn't seen it at that point. The best thing about going to sleep is you don't remember a thing."

As for the unconventional choke that proved to be her undoing in the fight, Couture said a separate post-fight conversation with Bird let her know that she wasn't the only one who couldn't figure out an escape in time.

"She set it up with a kimura. It was hard to see from the angle that I watched it on, but she went for a kimura and -- we hung out after the fight -- she told me that's how she likes to set it up. ...They call it the 'Sheila choke.' Apparently she gets it on everybody. It's kind of her signature move. I've never seen it in my life."

Couture, who dropped to 3-5 in her MMA career with the loss, said that Bird (2-0) was also concerned for her safety after the bout, and apparently realized well before Koivisto did that she was unconscious.

"She said she was a little worried about me. Thank God she was super awesome, a class act. She was very professional. She said that when she could tell my leg had gone limp, she eased up. She wasn't going to let go obviously. She said, 'I know you're dangerous and you've been hurt bad before and didn't stop. But I eased up because I didn't want to hurt you.' You know, she could have been a jerk and cranked on my arm at the same time, but she didn't do any of that."

Couture said her next goal will be to get her post-fight medical suspension lifted in time to fight in a kickboxing match at the Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas on July 30, though she also plans to compete in MMA again in the near future.

And while her pro career has been peppered with incidents that spread rapidly on internet forums -- from the grisly broken jaw she suffered in her pro debut, to the hapless performance of opponent Lina Kvokov in her first win, to this prolonged choke -- Couture said she barely has a chance to notice when fight fans are chattering about her on the internet.

"Even if I wanted to, I don't have time to look at that kind of stuff. I'm usually not aware of it until somebody calls me and tells me. I guess I'd rather be the one making the news than the one reading about it."

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