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Randy Couture ranks as one of the most influential figures in mixed martial arts history and remains one of only seven competitors to capture Ultimate Fighting Championship gold in multiple weight classes.
A two-time light heavyweight titleholder and three-time heavyweight champion, Couture first appeared on the MMA stage at UFC 13 on May 30, 1997 and remained a fixture inside the promotion—outside of a few stops in Rings and Vale Tudo Japan and some well-publicized run-ins with UFC management—until he decided to hang up his gloves in 2011. “The Natural” racked up 16 victories inside the organization and spent more than four hours of actual time competing inside the Octagon, often against his most accomplished contemporaries. Couture faced Chuck Liddell and Vitor Belfort three times apiece, Pedro Rizzo twice and Lyoto Machida, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Brock Lesnar, Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett once each, with those encounters accounting for eight of his 11 career defeats. He was the fourth fighter to be granted induction into the UFC Hall of Fame on June 24, 2006.
Here are some of the numbers that came to define Couture during his remarkable career:
3: All-America selections as a collegiate wrestler at Oklahoma State University. Couture was an All-American in 1990, 1991 and 1992, reaching the NCAA final on two different occasions. He finished his career with a 113-42-3 record and still ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list in total bouts (158).
33: Age at which he made his MMA debut, as Couture needed a little more than four minutes to subdue two opponents and win the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament. He submitted Tony Halme with a rear-naked choke in 56 seconds and put away Steven Graham with punches in 3:13.
8: Victories over former UFC champions. Couture defeated Belfort (twice), Liddell, Maurice Smith, Kevin Randleman, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia and Mark Coleman.
15: Appearances in UFC title fights, tying Couture with Georges St. Pierre for the most on the promotion’s all-time list. He was 9-6 in those bouts.
52: Takedowns landed in UFC competition. Couture executed multiple takedowns in 10 different fights, peaking with a career-high eight of them in a unanimous decision over Ortiz at UFC 44 on Sept. 26, 2003.
11: Finishes on his resume, accounting for more than half of his 19 professional victories. However, Couture’s stoppages were often more attritive in nature, as he secured only four of them inside the first round.
4: Submission wins to his credit. Though he was known more for his brutal clinch and suffocating ground-and-pound, Couture flashed other skills when the situation called for it. He tapped four opponents during his career: Halme (rear-naked choke), Coleman (rear-naked choke), Mike Van Arsdale (anaconda choke) and James Toney (arm-triangle choke).
3: Submission losses on his ledger. Couture was forced to tap to an Enson Inoue armbar in 1998, a Mikhail Ilyukhin kimura in 1999 and a Valentijn Overeem guillotine choke in 2001.
8: Decision wins under his belt. Couture outpointed Smith, Ortiz, Sylvia, Jeremy Horn, Ryushi Yanagisawa, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, Pedro Rizzo and Brandon Vera during his 14-year run in MMA.
1: Decision Loss on his record. Nogueira was the only fighter to go the distance with Couture and emerge victorious, as the former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder earned a unanimous decision over “The Natural” in the UFC 102 main event on Aug. 29, 2009.
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