Randy Couture Q & A
The UFC heavyweight champion
is not only a fighter but an actor as well.
None other than Randy “The
Natural” Couture co-stars in the upcoming
release of the new David Mamet movie, Redbelt.
Couture plays the role of a well-respected TV
personality. It’s a position Couture has
done many times in real life as an announcer
with the UFC.
Redbelt is a story about
the struggle of a prior mixed martial arts superstar
who tries to stay away from the sport he used
to dominate, but when outside forces step in
the middle, the former star is forced to fight
his way back. The movie is set to premier nationally
on May 9th.
We recently caught up with
Couture to discuss his role in the upcoming
movie, what he thinks about Fedor Emelianenko’s
current situation, if he wants to fight Antonio
Rodrigo Nogueira, and if he’ll ever take
on professional wrestler Kurt Angle in real
Question: What did you think
about your role in Redbelt?
Randy Couture: I liked it.
I was excited to get to act in a movie and not
have to fight. I was happy to not have to do
any of the physical stuff and move into more
of a real acting role.
Q: Since the movie is about
MMA, did you help with any of the fight scenes?
RC: No, I did not. I kind
of had my hands full doing my own lines and
focusing on my own character. They had the Machados
and a few other Brazilian fellows to help with
the training of Chiwetel (Ejiofor) who is the
main character in the movie.
Q: Have you seen the entire
RC: I’ve only seen
the parts that I did voiceovers for so I haven’t
seen the whole thing yet. I am really looking
forward to seeing the finished product.
Q: Your role as Dylan Flynn
in the movie, what does that entail?
RC: Dylan is one of the commentators
on both a TV show in the movie and for the live
fighting event in the movie. The main character
is basically trying to get to me at the live
event to try to blow the whistle on some of
the betrayal that is going on in the movie.
Q: Do you think the MMA fans
will be happy with the fight scenes in the movie?
RC: I think they will. The
fight scenes are very grounded in jiu-jitsu.
There is no crazy wire work or anything like
that. It’s an accurate representation
of our sport. They use a lot of real fighters.
It’s not a fight movie. Fighting and MMA
are just backdrop for the plot, and I think
it’s very well done.
Q: How did you like working
with director David Mamet?
RC: It was a great experience
for me. I had no knowledge of David before this.
I was familiar with some of the movies he did,
but I did not know that much about him as a
writer or director. So when people starting
freaking out that I was doing a read with David
Mamet, I started to realize that it is something
I ought to look into. We just kind of hit it
off because of his experience with jiu-jitsu.
He’s been training for about five years.
He understands MMA and the ground game. He and
his casting director spent a lot of extra time
with me. I even ended up on a couple of episodes
of The Unit because of this whole process which
was a great experience and provided me with
a great deal of exposure.
Q: You mentioned acting a
couple of times, is that something you’d
like to pursue more when your fight career is
RC: Actually, yes. I’ve
been in seven pictures now. I’ve been
taking classes for about two years. In a learning
sense, this has been a great experience. David’s
reputation and credibility has given me some
legitimacy in acting circles.
Q: Did you get a chance to
work out with Mamet?
RC: I didn’t get a
chance to roll with him, but I hope to at some
time. I’m sure that’ll happen.
Q: Do you think acting will
be next or could something be worked out with
RC: I don’t think anything
is going to get worked out with the UFC as far
as me fighting for them again. More than likely,
the courts are going to rule that the contract
ends in July. I have a right to work in my profession
so I would assume that the courts will uphold
that, and I’ll be free from the UFC by
July and then hopefully, I’ll be able
to pursue the Fedor (Emelianenko) fight and
see that happen somewhere in August or early
Q: Now that Fedor is a free
agent, does that change anything as far as the
potential fight goes?
RC: That doesn’t really
matter to me as long as it happens. I don’t
care where. I talked to his people at the commercial
we recently did. I even agreed to fight him
twice. We can fight once in a cage here in the
States, and we can fight in Japan where he’s
very popular in a ring. I don’t care –
as long as we get the fights.
Q: Fedor’s last big
organization was the Pride Fighting Championships.
A lot of other guys have also come over from
Pride, but they have not had great results.
Why do you think that is?
RC: I think that is a little
different animal over here – they hype
for the fights can be nerve-racking. The American
crowd is very fanatical. I think the cage is
a big difference. The cage can be your best
buddy or your worst enemy depending on the position
you’re in. I don’t think a lot of
people gave that enough credence, and some of
them paid the price for that.
Q: Very true. I remember
in your fight with Gabriel Gonzaga – you
definitely used the cage to your advantage to
really wear him out.
RC: Yes. I felt like Gonzaga’s
a big strong guy especially with good kicks.
I felt like I didn’t want to stand out
in front of him. I wanted to close the distance
and smother him, and the solid barrier of the
cage allowed me to push him up against it, smother
him and use the Greco background that I have
to take him and keep him out of his strengths.
Q: We talked about a possible
fight with Fedor. Is there anyone else you’d
be interested in fighting?
RC: That’s really the
fight for me at this stage. I’m 44 and
looking at the end of my career. I want to fight
the best guy in the world and be considered
the best guy as well. That fight is the only
way that will happen. It doesn’t make
sense – the UFC is criticizing me for
not fighting (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira, and
I have a lot of respect for Nogueira. I think
he’s a great fighter, but he’s been
beat by Fedor twice. That fight doesn’t
make sense for me right now. If I have more
fights left in me after Fedor, maybe I’ll
fight Nogueira then, but right now, it just
doesn’t make sense.
Q: The UFC has publicly said
that are sending you offers to fight Nogueira.
Are they really doing that?
RC: They have sent me an
offer to fight Nogueira. Yes, that’s what
they do. They are going to try.
Q: How do you react when
Dana White and Nogueira call you out to fight
RC: I’m not surprised
by that. He (White) starts making other derogatory
comments, and that’s a little surprising
that he would need to go there. He wants me
to fight for him and make his organization money.
At this stage of things, I’d like to see
the way fighters get paid change. Fighters are
the ones that are putting it on the line. The
UFC has done a lot of great things for our sport,
but we’re at a point now where the biggest
fights need to happen regardless of the organization
the fighter is tied up with, and the fighters
need to be paid. Why should (Floyd) Mayweather
or Oscar De La Hoya make $20 to $40 million
dollars for one fight? And mixed martial artists
are doing so much in the mainstream in a professional
sport and not be compensated in the same way.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Q: Do you feel there are
any similarities between your situation and
what is going on with Tito Ortiz right now?
RC: I’m not too familiar
with Tito’s case. Maybe there are some
similarities – I’m not sure. I’ve
had my own hands full. I haven’t really
kept up with Tito’s deal.
Q: One guy that talked about
possibly having a grappling type match with
you is Kurt Angle. Is there any truth to that?
RC: I would be interested
in a submission match with Kurt. I think Kurt
was saying that it is going to be a fight and
all this other stuff. I don’t think that
would be a wise idea for Kurt. Just like Brock
Lesnar, Kurt has a lot of potential. He has
a great wrestling base, but he doesn’t
really know anything about MMA yet, but he’s
certainly a great wrestler so if he wanted to
do a submission match, I’d be interesting
in doing that. But there’s nothing officially
scheduled at this point.
Q: Do you think the submissions
match is a realistic possibility?
RC: I think it’s a
possibility. I did a Jacare match last year.
But again, I wait till I am free and clear contractually
from the UFC because my contract includes wrestling
and submission wrestling, and I don’t
think they are going to give me any permission
to do anything at this point. Until the courts’
rule that the contract is over with, I wouldn’t
be free to do anything with Kurt.
Q: You mentioned Brock Lesnar
a little bit earlier, what do you think about
his potential in the UFC?
RC: I think he’s got
great potential. He was a great collegiate wrestler.
Pro wrestling is still very physical. He’s
a great athlete. I think the Mir fight was a
silly choice, especially for a wrestler, style
wise. Put Lesnar in there with a good striker
– somebody that he can use his strengths
against – and I think Lesnar would have
been successful. The one athlete you have to
watch for as a wrestler is a world-class submission
guy, and that’s who they put him in with
– a world-class submission guy. I wasn’t
surprised by the outcome, but I don’t
think Lesnar will be discouraged. He’ll
be back and he’ll be a force.
Q: How do you feel about
Lesnar getting such a big contract without having
an established name in MMA?
RC: I mean again –
the UFC is about selling pay-per-views and putting
butts in the seats as they should be, but that’s
why I question why they would put him in with
Mir and not protect that investment a little
bit. I don’t think the UFC thought Frank
has a lot of heart left. Some of his performances
the past few years have been lackluster, but
if you looked at his last fight, he showed that
he is getting himself back on track to become
the top fighter again.
Q: Switching topics a little
bit, your wife recently had he first big victory
in MMA. What did you think of her performance?
RC: I was very excited for
her. It was a lot of fun. The crowd really got
into it. She showed some great skills. Her stand-up
is something she’s been working on for
a while. She’s spent the last four weeks
in a fast course in ground fighting and jiu-jitsu
with Robert Drysdale. I think she’s going
to keep training now and then look to set-up
another fight this summer.
Q: What’s it like to
sit in the corner and watch your wife fight?
RC: I wasn’t nervous
at all. I watched her train. I’ve seen
her get hit in practice so it’s like anything
else – you need to keep it in perspective.
If the worst thing that would happen is she
loses a fight, she’s doing pretty good.
Q: And of course as we mentioned
earlier, Redbelt is coming out in just a few
weeks. Are there any other movies you’re
currently working on?
RC: Big Stan is a movie that
I actually worked on two summers ago with Rob
Schneider. The movie is coming out the same
weekend as Redbelt oddly enough. I am excited
about that too.
Q: How about the new Scorpion
RC: Yes, the prequel to the
Scorpion King called Rise of the Akkadian comes
out in August. I just finished the voiceovers
for that. I got to see a rough cut of that,
and it looks good. It’s a PG-13 movie.
Whether or not it comes out in a full theatrical
release, I don’t know. That’s up
to Universal. It’s probably the biggest
role that I’ve played so far in getting
the chance to play the Scorpion King of that
Q: So among the movies, training
your wife and cornering all the fighters, do
you have any time to train yourself?
RC: Heck no. There’s
no rest for the weary. It’s pretty busy,
but it’s fun.