UFC Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture left it all in the cage tonight, but it wasn’t enough to put away fellow former champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.
“I felt like I was standing still out there,” said Couture after the fight. “He’s a tremendous athlete.”
Couture’s gameplan was clear in the first round, get inside of Machida’s range behind punches, clinch with the Brazilian and force him to the mat. Though he did fairly well in the punching department, Couture had a hard time getting his hands on the elusive Brazilian. Machida began to time Couture as he would bull forward, landing a nice lunging knee to “The Natural’s” midsection, avoiding the clinch from there and then landing with a body kick and another knee to close out the first round.
“The Natural” told his corner that Machida was hard to pin down and that didn’t change in the second frame. Machida looked to have figured Couture out by the time they stepped off of the stool for the next round of action and he continued with his previous strategy: Avoiding Couture’s clinch and and landing from the outside. Following a brief exchange which he got the better of, Machida launched a crane kick that would’ve made Daniel-san jealous and which knocked Couture out cold in a finish very reminiscent of his friend Anderson Silva’s February dispatching of Vitor Belfort.
Both men credit Steven Seagal for helping them with the kick.
“I trained this kick a lot. My daddy taught [it to] me. Mr. Steven Seagal taught me also,” said Machida after the fight. “It was a dream for me to fight this guy. He is a hero. This is the man.”
Once he collected himself from the mat, Couture told Joe Rogan that this was indeed his last appearance in the cage, saying, “No, you’re not gonna see me again. This is it,” before exiting the cage to roaring applause.
Retiring with a career record of 19-11, Couture will forever be known as one of the sport’s most beloved and well-respected stars. The 47-year-old’s accomplishments in the sport and contributions to it cannot be overstated and will likely never again be rivaled by any fighter.
With his win, Machida proves his status as a legitimate contender in the light heavyweight division and improves his record to 17-2.