Heavy.com’s Brett Jones caught up with “The Natural” Randy Couture after UFC Fight Night 20 to talk about the trio of Xtreme Couture fighters who fought on the show. How does Amir Sadollah compare to a former UFC champion? Just what weight class does Evan Dunham fight at? What valuable lesson did Gray Maynard learn? The answers to these questions, along with our conversation about Mark Coleman, Brock Lesnar, and Fedor Emelianenko are in the full interview.
Heavy.com: What did you think about the performances of the Xtreme Couture fighters, Gray Maynard, Evan Dunham and Amir Sadollah?
Randy Couture:: I thought all three guys did a fantastic job. Evan got hurt early and showed a tenacious attitude and great technique. He just kept coming and coming and coming. I think Gray learned a valuable lesson tonight. He showed tremendous stand up skills. I mean, how many punches did he slip and get out of the way of? He showed great footwork and head movement and he just got caught up trying to rip [Nate Diaz’s] head off instead of just fighting and sticking to the game plan. I thought Amir, as usual, looked stunning. He does a great job of mixing up his punches and his kicks very well. He’s a good, well rounded mixed martial artist.
Heavy.com: Do you notice any similarities between Amir’s style and the style of Forrest Griffin?
Randy Couture:: They both tend to do better moving forward. Both tend to turn it on when they get hit. Forrest is a notoriously slow starter and I don’t think Amir really has that problem. I would say that Amir is probably a better kick boxer. He finishes a lot of combinations with kicks. Not that Forrest isn’t a good kicker, because he throws his share, too, but I think Amir has a more refined kicking style that Forrest. They both like to plod forward and put a lot of pressure on guys.
Heavy.com: That was a big win for Evan Dunham to remain undefeated. He seems to have a bright future ahead of him in the UFC’s Lightweight division. Where do you think he stacks up right now?
Randy Couture:: I think Evan’s a 170-pounder, so he’d be looking at Georges [St. Pierre].
Heavy.com: Well, he was fighting Efrain tonight, so that would be 155. Are you saying you think he could fight up at Welterweight?
Randy Couture:: No, I thought he was a Welterweight. I don’t know, I see him as a 170-pounder. But yeah, he’s got a lot of great tools. I’m still puzzled by that. We fought on the same card in Portland and I could have sworn he was at 170 then. [ed. note: Dunham fought Marcus Aurelio in a Lightweight match]
Heavy.com: Let’s talk a little about your fight with Mark Coleman. You’re both hall-of-famers now, but does any part of you wish the fight was taking place when you were in your prime?
Randy Couture:: Nah. I’m in my prime now (smiling). I signed up for the fight [back] then and it just didn’t turn out. Things happen the way they happen. It’s a good fight now. It’s an interesting fight now for a lot of reasons. The hall-of-fame angle certainly gives it some intrigue. The fact that we’re both wrestlers and have similar styles and have a tendency to want to take guys down and plant ourselves on top and beat ’em up is interesting as well. I don’t really look back and say, “oh, I wish we could have done it then.” It happens when it happens.
Heavy.com: Is the UFC Light Heavyweight title something you’re still striving for at this point, or are you more motivated by your desire to compete?
Randy Couture:: More for my desire to compete, but Machida is certainly a guy I want to compete [with]. The title and the belt would be the icing on the cake in that circumstance. We’ll see what happens. I’m in the mix now at 205. I certainly need to go out and have an impressive performance against Mark and we’ll see what happens after that.
Heavy.com: Is there any circumstance under which you’d move back up to Heavyweight?
Randy Couture:: A good fight. A good, interesting fight. An intriguing fight. I wouldn’t do it just to do it, but yeah, if there was an interesting fight there that made sense, certainly.
Heavy.com: Any fight in particular that you would find intriguing?
Randy Couture:: Obviously I felt like I was on my way to having a good outing with Brock and got caught. First and foremost I hope he gets healthy and gets back in there, we’ll see. I’m happy where I’m at right now. We’ll see how it works out.
Heavy.com: Speaking of Brock Lesnar, you recently said that he’s healthy and that he’ll be fighting again in Spring of this year.
Randy Couture:: Yeah, I think he’ll be back. I spoke to him before Christmas, and he sounded positive, he sounded good. He was waiting for clearance from his doctors this month. He said he was back in the gym but he’s not cleared to get back on the mat yet, which were all positive signs to me that he was on a recovery and things were in order and he got the medical issues squared away. I’m still surprised that everyone’s speculating. Maybe he’s just keeping his cards close to his vest. When you talk about health issues, that’s natural.
Heavy.com: Although he’s in Strikeforce, Fedor Emelianenko was the fight you talked about for a long time. Is there any part of you that still desires to have that fight?
Randy Couture:: Again, things work out the way they work out. If it should happen to work out that he comes to the UFC before I retire and I get a crack at him, great. I’m done pining away for that fight and trying to make it happen myself. It didn’t work out, and the 13 months I spent trying to make it happen wasn’t the best. If you’re pushing or being pushed, it’s probably not the right thing.
Heavy.com: Thank you so much for taking some time out for us.
Randy Couture:: Yeah man.