Fighting words

UFC legend Randy Couture at the UFC 68 weigh ins on March 2, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio. (SLAM!...

UFC legend Randy Couture at the UFC 68 weigh ins on March 2, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio. (SLAM! Sports/Mike Mastrandrea)

TIM BAINES

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

The legend of Randy Couture is such that he was tagged with the nickname "The Natural" and inducted into the Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Fame. He didn't need to return to his mixed martial arts domain to prove anything. But Couture, at age 43, wasn't finished. He got the itch to fight again. And he found an opponent, Tim Silvia, willing to put the UFC heavyweight championship on the line. Defying age and against all odds, the tough-as-nails 6-foot-2 Couture soundly defeated the 6-foot-8 Silvia on March 3. Couture will defend his title on Aug. 25 against Gabriel Gonzago, who recently knocked Mirko Cro Cop silly. Couture is a Christian, with three children -- 25-year-old Ryan, 22-year-old Aimee and four-year-old Caden. He's a warrior in the octagon and, defying the ruthless aggression that's necessary in his sport, a heck of a nice guy in real life.

Sun Media: Why have so many people taken a liking to mixed martial arts?

Couture: From the first match to the main event, the fighters lay it on the line ... and the fans appreciate that.

Sun Media: You decided to return to ultimate fighting at age 43. Was there any doubt in your mind you'd succeed?

Couture: I felt pretty comfortable, mostly with the matchup. Knowing Tim (Silvia) as well as I do, I felt it was the perfect matchup. His weaknesses are my strengths.

Sun Media: Were there skeptics?

Couture: I don't think anybody expected me to be successful. I guess because of a combination of my age and the results of my previous two fights with Chuck Liddell.

Sun Media: What was going through your mind when you beat Silvia?

Couture: It was surreal ... the way the crowd reacted.

Sun Media: When did you know you'd won the bout?

Couture: I don't think I knew until the last 10 seconds. It doesn't strike you until it's over.

Sun Media: If we threw all of the UFC stars into a no-holds-barred street brawl, who'd win?

Couture: I think the guy I'd be most afraid of in that scenario would be Matt Lindland. He doesn't have a conscience. He wouldn't think twice about snapping your thumb off.

Sun Media: Any desire to face Chuck Liddell again?

Couture: I've fought Chuck three times, so I don't know how interesting that would be.

Sun Media: You were in the U.S. Army. Describe the experience.

Couture: Six years. It changed me as a person. I don't think anybody could go through that process and not have it affect them.

Sun Media: You were a father at a young age and you're a father again in your 40s. How's it different?

Couture: I was a father when I was 19. I was just trying to survive. This is a different stage of my life. It's a lot of fun.

Sun Media: You've retired and returned. How much longer can you fight?

Couture: I'll take 'em one at a time. As long as my body holds up, this is what I love to do.

Sun Media: In a sport where there's a lot of clenching, your ears have to take a beating. Do you need to get your ears drained after a fight

Couture: I used to have to get them drained. But my cauliflower ears are pretty much bulletproof now. I dare Mike Tyson to take a chunk out of them.

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QUICK HITS

Q: Favourite athlete outside MMA?

A: Muhammad Ali.

Q: Childhood heroes?

A: Skiers ... Jean-Claude Killy, Franz Klammer.

Q: Favourite actor?

A: Kevin James.

Q: Favourite actress?

A: Kate Hudson.

Q: Movie that made you laugh?

A: 40 Year Old Virgin.

Q: Movie that made you cry?

A: The Yearling (as a kid).

Q: You're allowed to invite three people alive or dead to dinner.

A: Jesus Christ, Hitler and Elvis.

Q: What music are you listening to?

A: Nickelback, Gary Allan.


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