Rush, Couture come to grips

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

The Edmonton Rush have a new living, breathing mascot.

Or is that a living beating?

Randy 'The Natural' Couture - a mixed-martial artist who has a distinguished career beating the living daylights out of his opponents in the UFC octagon - signed a partnership with the lacrosse club yesterday that will see the legendary fighter make some trips to Edmonton and on road games at times over the regular season.

"He's still fighting, so his training is very strict leading up to fights, but he's going to make it to as many games as he can," said Rush owner Bruce Urban last night from Las Vegas.

"We're excited about bringing Randy Couture on to try and be a real leader in the organization on the fitness, conditioning and toughness front.

"I think pro lacrosse is one of the toughest sports. If you're playing a tough sport, we need to have the best conditioned players and the players that are the toughest."

The five-time world champion and ultimate fighting Hall of Famer is bringing in the Rush roster as part of Extreme Couture, which will be brandished on the Rush's game shorts. In turn, Couture will sport the Rush logo on his ring attire in upcoming fights.

His next one is slated for UFC 109 at Vegas's Mandalay Bay where he is expected to face Mark 'The Hammer' Coleman in a Hall of Fame showdown.

The partnership was underway this week in Vegas, where a couple of Rush members began a series of training sessions at the fighter's Extreme Couture home base - also home to The Ultimate Fighter personality and former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, along with Canadian John Alessio.

Rush captain Chris McElroy and all-star transition player Brodie Merrill are there this week, while teammates Jimmy Quinlan and Ryan McNish are going next week.

"We're going to filter our players through Randy over the next six months to help in training , conditioning and mental health training. I guarantee we'll have the most athletic team in the league in no time.

"It's not a camp for the faint-hearted. Their role and their goal is to toughen players up and that's exactly what they're going to do," said Urban, an admitted UFC and Couture fan. "He's one of the classiest fighters, a super humble guy who sticks to the motto and has the sign at his gym: 'Check your ego at the door.' The guy is a veteran and a legend in UFC fighting."

Urban couldn't think of anyone better to toughen up a team ... or else.

"This guy will get those boys with their heads on straight so that every game and every shift they're going out to absolutely conquer," Urban said. "That's what we needed, I mean it's no secret we haven't had success in lacrosse in Edmonton and to prove to the city that we want to win, we've hired the help of one of the pioneers of UFC who's helped get it to where it is today.

"I'm hoping that this will show Edmonton that I'm serious about trying to create a winning lacrosse team."

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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