Fight For The Ages
Captain America Returns
As a certified bad@ss, Randy Couture speaks softly but carries the ability to ground and pound his opponents into submission. It's safe to say that tough guys, whether they're real or in the movies, are cut from the same cloth - though few have been cut in combat, literally, as many times as Randy "The Natural" Couture.
He's like the Brett Favre of the UFC, but instead of a career with the Green Bay Packers, he packs punches. And kicks. And chokeholds. And his career isn't filled with stats. It's filled with scars. And it isn't a career about one discipline, but all of them.
It's a career that's taken spectacular advantage of the word "mixed" in mixed martial arts. Wrestling? He won his first championship in that discipline when he was 18 years old. Then he was a three-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University. Hand-to-hand combat?
Couture spent six years in the United States Army. Muay Thai? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Ask the men who have submitted to him in agony if he's mastered those.
Couture made his UFC debut in 1997, winning the heavyweight tournament. Since then, he became one of only two MMA fighters to hold a championship title in two different divisions: light heavyweight and heavyweight. He is also the only five-time champion in UFC history.
Or, you if you want a testament to his greatness, you could just ask one of the dozens of world-class mixed martial artists who flock to train with him. Wanderlei Silva. Forrest Griffin. Amir Sadollah. These are just a few of the guys squaring off when we step foot into the Xtreme Couture training facility.
But at the center of it all at this particular gym is Couture. When he walks in, the room slows for just a moment as everyone puts an eye on him. After all, it's the house that he built. Would you be able to keep your eyes off Babe Ruth as he strolled through Yankee Stadium? Didn't think so.
Ready To Brock The World
Florists aren't named Brock. Neither are sommeliers or interior decorators. No, when your name sounds like the words "brick" and "rock" smashed together, there's really only one calling tough enough to justify your signature: fighter. Luckily, this is exactly what Brock Lesnar is.
From his All-American wrestling days at the University of Minnesota to his reign at the top of the WWE to his entry into mixed martial arts, Lesnar seems drawn to one-on-one combat the way Clint Eastwood was drawn to playing tough guys.
Just as nobody else could have starred as Dirty Harry and nobody else could have pulled off the line "Go ahead, make my day," nobody else could have gone from a titan of fake fighting to a contender in Ultimate Fighting in just a few short years. To pull off that feat, you can't just decide to try mixed martial arts; you have to commit to it.
On this particular day, Lesnar is putting himself through a gauntlet of wrestling drills. Suffice to say, it's punishing - punishing in its physicality and punishing in its methodology. Fight. Grunt. Sweat. Repeat.
In fact, there are so many rounds being fought and techniques being worked on we couldn't keep track if we wanted to. One minute Lesnar's taking down a man about his size, the next minute he's escaping a hold from someone who's built just like Couture.
Every second brings a new challenge, with each partner giving everything he has to push Lesnar to the limit. Round after round. Minute after minute.
For the rest of our interviews with UFC 91 combatants Couture and Lesnar, pick up the December issue of FLEX on newsstands now. UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar took place Saturday, November 15, 2008, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.