Randy Couture

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Randy Couture talks 2021 PFL Championships and Zombie Pro Wrestling

The 2021 PFL Finals take place on Wednesday, October 27th on ESPN 2 and ESPN +. The fistic fireworks emanate from Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

I spoke with PFL analyst and former multi-division UFC champion Randy Couture ahead of this PFL season finale event. Excerpts from our chat are below.

 

Calling fights at the last PFL alongside longtime Team Quest training partner Chael Sonnen for the first time

“That was a blast. We had a lot of fun. It felt very comfortable. Of course, it always feels really comfortable with Kenny as well. But that’s the first time I’ve gotten to call fights with Chael. I’ve obviously known Chael for a very very long time. He’s a great friend, so it was fun. We had a great time. Poking each other and calling the fights.”

The compelling nature of every single PFL tournament final on October 27th

“Every single weight class has been a lot of fun to be involved in. Watching these guys and gals get after it. Obviously, we’re excited for Taylor Guardado in the women’s division. She’s certainly going to have her hands full with Kayla Harrison. Big step up for Taylor and she’s had an amazing season. Just kind of grinding out three victories to get into the final. So we’re excited for her from Xtreme Couture. Obviously got a plethora of guys from all over the globe. Twenty-two countries represented the Dagestanis obviously in force. We’ve got Movlid Khaybulaev and Magomed Magomedkerimov both in the finals from Dagestan.”

“Those guys are stellar athletes, stellar wrestlers, and great fighters. So they’re absolutely fun to watch. It’s been a really unique season. If you told me there wasn’t gonna be a Lance Palmer or a Natan Schulte going into the finals for season three, I would have laughed. But that’s the way things go in the PFL. Nobody’s protected, you’ve got to earn your spot, and those guys ran up against pretty tough characters early in the regular season. Then didn’t make it to the playoffs. So pretty remarkable to see new champs in those divisions. Which is going to be really cool.”

Randy Couture

Couture’s lineage in the sport, combative compatriots, and now being an analyst for Mirko Cro Cop’s protege, Ante Delija

“There was a lot of hype around Ante. When we were able to sign him to the PFL, there were a few other promotions out there chasing him. A lot of hype around him. To go out in his first regular-season fight and get knocked out by (Bruno) Cappelozza was pretty remarkable. We were shocked. So the fact that he’s getting a rematch for all the marbles this time is pretty cool. I think it’s gonna be a great fight. Cappelozza is on fire. He is just explosive. Moving up from 205 I think was a great move for him. And then he said from day one, look these heavyweights aren’t going to be able to deal with my speed. He’s lived up to that. It’s been pretty impressive.”

Xtreme Couture’s glory years of Gina Carano and Randy Couture as well as the gym’s modern boom period

“You know when I retired from the sport, a lot of the guys scattered. Went to different gyms and went to different places. I wasn’t in there grinding out camps and we went through a little lull. We brought in Dennis Davis. And with the help of Robert Follis and my son Ryan managing the gym, Eric Nicksick. They’ve just kind of done a great job of rebuilding that family culture.”

“That fight culture in Xtreme Couture and we are on fire right now with Francis Ngannou in there. Miesha Tate coming back out and doing so well in her first fight in almost five years. Just a plethora of great athletes in there training. Certainly a number of PFL athletes as well but across the board. All the promotions, we’ve got guys fighting in every single promotion in the sport. So it’s been really, really awesome to see.”

PFL 2021 Championships

Why Randy Couture has been able to stick with his retirement decision when some of his peers have not been able to

“I just think it was time for me. Retired for a little bit when I was going through the divorce. I just didn’t feel like myself, I wasn’t competing at the level I felt like I was used to competing at. I lost twice to Chuck (Liddell). The second and third Chuck fights, and I stepped away. The divorce settled and I kind of came back to feeling like myself again. Came back out to fight Tim (Sylvia) for the heavyweight championship at 44. Most people thought I was insane but obviously rode it for another three years. Got some great fights in and had a blast.”

“But I felt like during the James Toney camp, every old injury that I’d ever had kind of flared up during that camp for no particular reason. And it was the first time the thought entered my mind that it was my body telling me, hey look you might want to think about doing something else for a living. I think once you start having that conversation in your own head. It’s time to seriously consider doing something else. It’s a tough way to make a living. Grinding out camps, going out in front of everybody, and fighting your heart out.”

“It’s definitely not for the faint of heart and I just felt like it was time for me. I wanted to go out on my own terms. Not have some doctor or some promoter telling me I shouldn’t do it anymore. And I feel pretty comfortable. Took me about a year to come to terms with that decision and that conversation. Once I walked away, I felt like it was the right move.”

Zombies, Pro Wrestling, and MMA

Couture’s acting work in horror films as of late (The Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre) and his brushes with pro wrestling

“That was a lot of fun. First of all, it’s a great cast of guys. Mike Carey and Chris Margetis came out with a great script. It’s funny, it’s very tongue in cheek, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Crossing zombies and pro wrestling, what could be going on there? Max Martini did a great job of directing. He’s somebody I’ve known for 20 years through acting. Got to play in a couple of episodes of The Unit, when he was on The Unit on TV. We became friends then. So he reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in playing a role in this fun movie. I read the script.”

“We’re gonna shoot in Santa Fe and I said yeah, I’m in. This sounds like a blast. I was really excited a couple of weeks ago in Chicago at a horror festival. To see the finished product and see the result. See the fans just kind of go crazy over this film. It’s really a lot of fun. Who knew? We shot this about two and a half years ago. A year before anybody knew what COVID was. The pretense for this film is that these guys are taking bad growth hormone from China. It causes them to go crazy and they become zombies. So is that art imitating life or what? It was a little surreal.”

Randy Couture continued, “When a year later, we’re all locked down and in quarantine and everything. But a fun film…It will be in some limited theaters. You’ll be able to find that on the digital platforms.”

The historical confluence of pro wrestlers in MMA with Couture’s debut being against a former WWF wrestler

“Yeah, Tony Halme. Obviously, good friends with Kurt Angle who came from that amateur Olympic champion amateur wrestling background. (He) has done very, very well in the WWE. Certainly, Brock Lesnar. A guy that I fought with came from that world as well. There have been a number of fighters, certainly in the Japanese market that have done a lot of pro wrestling. Don Frye, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, all those guys. You mentioned Bas (Rutten), all those guys have gone over and done some pro wrestling in Japan. Where it’s certainly a little closer to MMA in the Japanese market.”

Parting thoughts for Randy Couture

“Very excited for the PFL finals October 27th in Hollywood, Florida at The Seminole Hard Rock. I’m also very excited. I just got my contract and the script for Expendables four. So I’m heading to Europe to start shooting the next installment of The Expendables franchise. Happy to be back, getting the band back together so to speak. So looking forward to that as well. The script is crazy, just like all the others. So I think everybody’s gonna love this film.”

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