Though Randy (The Natural) Couture has hung up the four-ounce gloves in favour of acting, he doesn’t plan on abandoning his coaching duties at Xtreme Couture.
“I don’t miss the cage at all,” Couture told QMI Agency at the Toronto premiere of The Expendables 2 on Monday. “In fact, sometimes I scratch my head and go, ‘Man, I can’t believe I really did this.’
“I still work with my fighters all the time. Whenever I’m in Vegas, I’m at the gym every single day working with those guys. I’m working with Jay Hieron right now, who’s getting ready to fight Jake Ellenberger on the Sept. 1 show (UFC 151). My son Ryan (Couture) is doing very well in Strikeforce. Evan Dunham, Mike Pyle — the list goes on. We’ve got a whole plethora of guys who are doing a great job out of Xtreme Couture.”
It’s a harsh reality of every sport that sometimes athletes don’t know when to call it quits and have little to fall back on once their careers fade. This can be even more troubling when it applies to combat sports, as fighters run the risk of suffering career-ending injuries or being diagnosed with conditions like pugilistic dementia.
But Couture, a UFC Hall of Famer and five-time champion, enjoyed a long career, engaged in some of the most memorable fights in MMA history and retired before he overstayed his welcome.
He said part of guiding new fighters is teaching them the importance of long-term planning.
“I work with a lot of younger fighters at Xtreme Couture and we try to make them aware of the situation that they’re in, the limited window of opportunity that they have to make a living as MMA fighters and what’s going to carry them down the rest of that road,” Couture said. “(We teach them to) realize that they’re building a brand of themselves in a very real sense. It’s an on-going task. Fighters don’t always look long-term, they’re kind of here and now.”
Before he returns to the gym, Couture his relishing the opportunity to revisit his role as Toll Road in The Expendables sequel, which opens Friday. Not only does it feature a who’s who of action movies, it’s also the single largest production of his film career.
“This is a much bigger film from start to finish (than the first),” Couture said. “Not only a bigger cast of amazing icons in the action genre, but a bigger film (because) we basically had run of a country. In Bulgaria, they opened their doors to us and we basically could have done whatever we wanted and blew up an airport, for crying out loud. It was pretty remarkable. I think it shows.
“This is just a much bigger film. There’s more action and I think everybody’s going to get a good chuckle out of all the guys in this movie. It’s fun.”
Couture was joined at the Scotiabank Theatre by co-star Terry Crews, who said Couture brings a sharp edge to the film franchise.
“There would be no UFC if it wasn’t for Randy Couture,” a pumped up Crews began.
“Just fooling around (on set), he would hold me (down) and I was like, ‘Ah!’ He knows that spot that all of a sudden gets you limp. ‘Oh my God no!’
“But I have so much respect because he’s so soft spoken. He knows he could kill any of us at any time. He’s the toughest member of The Expendables, bar none, but he comes in humble and ready to work. He wants to be one of the best actors at it and we need him. For this movie to appeal to the real men in the world, you’ve got to have Randy Couture as an Expendable.”
One of Couture’s defining quirks in the first film, was his character’s insecurity towards his cauliflower ears. Though he doesn’t give a speech this time around, his ears are back for more torment.
“They make another appearance,” Couture laughed. “There’s no monologue in this one, but the guys harass me about my ears the entire film.”