Insights from UFC Champ Randy Couture

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Congratulations to Randy Couture on receiving the George Tragos Award from the National Wresting Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, which is given to an exceptionally competitive wrestler who has adapted his wrestling skills and competitive nature to excel in Mixed Martial Arts. Dan Gable is known as the greatest wrestler of all time.

When I review Randy Couture’s awards, triumphs and career, it is humbling to have been able to sit with him on several occasions and hear what he believes it takes to be a champion. We were able to discuss the mindset he uses day in and day out to put him at the top of the game and to become the ultimate warrior.

Randy’s career as a competitor in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is second to none: Randy became a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.

Over his tenure, Randy had 15 title fights and was the first to hold championships in two different weight divisions. He’s the fourth member nominated to the UFC Hall of fame and is the only athlete in UFC history to win a championship after becoming a Hall Of Fame member.  In addition, no one else has won a UFC Championship over the age of 40 – Randy Couture did it four times.

Born in Everett, Washington, Randy Couture’s family situation was less than ideal. His dad was rarely in his life and his mom worked long days to support the family.

Although an athlete, Randy did not make his first wrestling team and had to go up two weight classes in order to eventually make the squad. However, he went on to attend Oklahoma State University where he was a three-time NCAA Division I All-American.

After college, Randy served in the U.S Army, attaining the rank of sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division.

Randy demonstrated his ability to turn a hopeless, unfair situation into an opportunity when he applied for tryouts with the Army’s Freestyle Wrestling team. Due to a clerical error he was listed to compete in Greco-Roman Wrestling, a discipline he had never trained in. Ever the dauntless competitor, he persevered. Even with no experience, he went to the tryouts and made the team. After leaving the Army, Randy continued his Greco-Roman wrestling and became a three-time Olympic team alternate (1988, 1992 and 1996).

In1997, at the age of 33, Randy made his debut in the UFC’s Octagon cage as a heavyweight. Weighing close to 200 pounds, he won the fight in less than one minute against an opponent who topped the scale at more than 300 pounds.

Over the next 14 years, Randy’s heart and determination helped him become a standout as he competed at the highest level of MMA. He defeated the likes of Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz.

As a fan—and amateur martial arts competitor since my mid-twenties, I remember watching Randy in the early days of the UFC. His fighting ability was extraordinary, of course, but he also impressed me with the respect and class he showed for the sport and his opponents.

Insights from Randy Couture

  • “People are held back from achieving their potential for a plethora of reasons, but ultimately it boils down to choice. We forget that everything is a choice and we have the freedom to decide what we do and what we want to commit to.”
  • “I believe I was able to find everything, including the people I needed to help me make the most of the gifts God gave me.” 
  • “Every day frame everything positively. Every day visualize success. Every day set small goals to get where you want to be—get 1% better every day!
  • “If you love something, stand your ground. Stick with it! Losses are more important than wins, because they are a gut check for what went wrong. You have to change something to have a better outcome next time.” 

I asked Randy what he thinks about during his fight-training process. He answered, “When I have an upcoming fight, I see my opponent as a problem I have to solve and prepare accordingly.”

Randy continues to be one of the all-time favorites. Throughout his career he was often viewed as the underdog in many of his fights. But he became widely respected as one of the most resilient fighters. He had an overpowering will to win and an unsurpassed ability to bring other fighters to their breaking points.

Ever evolving, Randy is pursuing an acting career and has appeared on an episode of the History Channel’s The Human Weapon. His movie appearances include the villain Sargon in The Scorpion King 2: Rise of the Warrior and as the demolition expert, Toll Road, in The Expendables movies.

Copyright 2014 Jerry Gladstone