When UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture announced his retirement, effective after his UFC 129 bout against Lyoto Machida, the tributes came pouring in, and rightfully so. But while fans and media obviously have their own view of “The Natural”, hearing the impact he had on the careers of his peers carries a much different weight.
So here is a collection of thoughts from the men who have walked the same road he has…
ALAN BELCHER – middleweight contender
Randy Couture is like a super hero to me. He’s a man that just keeps going and never gets slowed down by any elements. My perspective is different than someone who trains with Randy on a weekly basis or personally knows him though. I don't know his personality, I just know the icon. I would be star struck to meet him, and although I have trained at his gym on several occasions hoping to meet him, I still have not. I believe Randy is driven by competition and passion for combat and I hope that I can leave a fraction of the legacy he is leaving.
TIM CREDEUR – middleweight prospect
After TUF 7 I moved to Vegas to train with Forrest Griffin, and he took me to Xtreme Couture to train. During my time at Randy's Academy I sparred, drilled, wrestled, laughed and talked fighting with Randy many times. He was a multiple-time world champion and I was a nobody, but he treated me like an equal and changed my entire outlook on the sport and on what it is to be a legend. I consider myself blessed to have experienced a true legend of our sport in such an amazing capacity.
EVAN DUNHAM – lightweight contender
Randy has always been and will always be an inspiration to myself and all fighters who strive to be the best. Randy has achieved so much in his career, and he more than deserves his place as a legend and pioneer of the sport.
FRANKIE EDGAR – UFC lightweight champion
Randy has been someone for fighters like myself and others to look up to for such a long time, and he will be greatly missed in the Octagon. He set the bar high for future fighters, not only in the way he competed, but in the way he carried himself. I wish Randy the best in his retirement.
YVES EDWARDS – lightweight pioneer
To say Randy is inspirational would be an understatement to me. You hear the phrase "before his time" so much in this world, but Randy was well past his prime like the third or fourth time that he became a world champion. I could only imagine how dominant he would have been if he was the same age as everyone else. There should be a special place in the Hall of Fame for a guy like that.
JAKE ELLENBERGER – welterweight contender
Randy Couture is not a mixed martial artist; Randy Couture IS mixed martial arts. He is not only an extraordinary leader and role model, but he is a pioneer and a founding father of our sport. It was a pleasure and an honor to have worked with such a classy guy.
JON FITCH – former world title challenger
Randy’s career has taught me that hard work and game planning are more important than talent and athleticism. Seeing him compete at a high level for so long gives me the hope that I will be competing when I am close to 50 as well.
BRIAN FOSTER – welterweight prospect
I think of that dude and only one word comes to mind: "Superman". He has done what every athlete dreams of, and he is undoubtedly the toughest man I have ever seen at his age by far. If I can do half of what Randy has done in this sport then I’d be making a lot of people proud. My words to Randy: way to stick it out and hang on for as long as you did. I hope to do the same if possible. Fighting is something that we are passionate about and it just comes "Natural". You’re the man.
LEONARD GARCIA – featherweight contender
Randy was and always will be the man in the UFC. He was someone who, no matter how many times he would fall, he would get back up and reach the top of the mountain again and again.
TJ GRANT – welterweight prospect
Randy was the ultimate underdog. His wins over Chuck (Liddell) and Tito (Ortiz) gave me goosebumps. No one gave him a shot and he pulled it off. Everyone thought it was his time to hang it up four years ago but he proved us all wrong. He was a competitor, a role model and one of the greatest all-time fighters.
FORREST GRIFFIN – Former UFC light heavyweight champion
I've heard this fella Randy Couture’s a pretty good fighter. Well, I suppose that's true. But Randy’s also one of the nicest people in the sport, and I have proof. We were sharing a hotel room one time, strictly platonic, two beds and everything, I swear. Randy had a 6am flight because he's crazy like that - seize the day and all that s**t. I, of course, opted for the more sensible noonish flight. I woke to see Randy sneaking around the room using his cell phone as a light to pack his bags. That's right, Randy didn't want to wake sleeping beauty up. Think about how nice you have to be to not turn the lights on to make sure you got all your s**t. But that’s just Randy - considerate and always with a smile and a kind word. As far as him retiring goes, good, I was getting tired of getting beat up by a guy that was old enough to be my dad.
KENDALL GROVE – The Ultimate Fighter season three winner
All I can say is that Randy was an inspiration. The man redefined the sport in so many ways and I'm so happy I had the chance to train with him and be a part of his team. Thank you Captain for always putting on a show.
CLAY GUIDA – lightweight contender
Randy Couture is the definition of a true champion. He made fans out of just about anyone that ever watched him compete and he showed what heart and sheer determination can accomplish in the cage. Randy is also a huge supporter of the armed forces, as he served in the military out of college, and he was a dominant wrestler who transferred it to MMA and revolutionized the sport. He will be talked about in a positive light for years. Randy Couture is my HERO.
ED HERMAN – middleweight prospect and former training partner
Randy was a huge inspiration, and getting the opportunity to be around him and train with him for the first five years of my career was huge in my growth in the sport. He took the extra time to work with me during and after practices, and that was a big confidence boost because if he believed I had potential, then I knew I could make it happen. I was really lucky to get that opportunity because I was just a punk kid coming off the streets. All I had was toughness, the kind you can’t teach, and I think I learned more from Randy than from anyone I’ve ever known. He made me see that anything you believe in and work hard enough for is possible.
MATT HUGHES – UFC Hall of Famer and two-time welterweight champion
I've always modeled myself after Randy. He always came in ready and with a game plan. But probably the biggest thing is what he said and how he talked. He always had good answers, and if it came out of Randy's mouth then I would allow myself to say something close to that.
ANTHONY JOHNSON – welterweight contender
Randy is the Legend of Legends. No one will ever be able to do what Randy has done for the MMA community. He put smiles on the fans’ faces with his incredible heart and never say die attitude.
DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON – bantamweight contender
I think Randy Couture is an awesome martial artist. He has shown the great things that can be done in this sport and I hope I can still be fighting at the age that he was. I will miss him fighting.
KYLE KINGSBURY – light heavyweight prospect
The thing I respect most about Randy was his ability to come back time and time again and win whether he was the underdog, coming out of retirement, or fighting against a bigger opponent. The guy seemed like he didn't age and it was a pleasure to watch him.
DUANE “BANG” LUDWIG – welterweight veteran
Randy has raised the bar in so many areas that he has to be the all-time greatest mixed martial artist.
CHRIS LYTLE – welterweight veteran
Randy has truly been the greatest fighter in the UFC. I really saw when he coached on TUF 4 that he had been the first person to truly incorporate wrestling and boxing and jiu-jitsu and had merged them into an entirely new discipline. He took things to the next level. Before him, people were very good at one aspect and just tried to get by with the others. He helped change that. And his ability to defeat great fighters after I thought his best days were behind him still baffles me. I don't care if he came back in five years, I would never count him out. He’s very inspirational and I know he will do the same in whatever he does next. Thanks Randy.
DEMIAN MAIA - middleweight contender
For me, Randy is the most inspirational fighter in the UFC. He has proved that will is much bigger than age when we talk about achieving our dreans. He is a inspiration not just for me and the MMA world, but also to everyone. Great dicipline, hard-worker and also a very kind person - Randy is bigger than the sport because he is an example for everybody.
CODY McKENZIE – lightweight prospect
Randy is the man, he seems like a myth, and will always be a legend.
IGOR POKRAJAC – light heavyweight veteran
Randy gave us many great fights and many good moments to remember. I’m honored to be one of the fighters that Randy has cornered. It was in San Diego on Versus against James Irvin and I won it in style. After the fight, Randy told me "Good fight, stud," and for me that was a moment to remember. I think that it is a big decision in the life of a fighter to retire after a great career and he has the support and love of all MMA fans all over the world. Randy is the UFC and an icon to admire.
JORGE RIVERA – middleweight veteran
Like just about everyone, I have a deep admiration for Randy and all that he's accomplished both in and out of the cage. He's a true warrior and champion as well as a spokesman and ambassador for all of MMA, and I'm grateful to have met him, learned from him and to have have watched him fight. Thank you Randy, you are the man.
DANIEL ROBERTS – welterweight prospect
Randy Couture always put everything he had into all his fights, and when you do that, no matter what his record says, he never lost a fight.
AMIR SADOLLAH - welterweight prospect
Randy Couture is the type of fighter even champions seek to emulate, and I'm glad I have the opportunity to learn from him.
BRENDAN SCHAUB – heavyweight contender
Randy is a guy I think every professional fighter looks up to. He's best described as a pro's pro and he does everything and anything to win. The first thing I learned in this game is to never count Randy out, no matter who he's fighting. And when someone asks why? Because it’s RANDY! He's showed what mental toughness is all about. He's one of the greats.
AARON SIMPSON – middleweight prospect
As a college wrestler, I remember Randy from his days of coaching at Oregon State University and his days on the Greco-Roman National Team, so when we all heard he was fighting in the UFC back then, it was big news. We all gathered around and had a party to view "one of ours" showcase our sport as a fighter. We all were proud to say we were wrestlers, basically because Randy dominated so easily. As his career grew and I moved into mixed martial arts, I had one of the best role models out there to look up to. His ability to keep fighting well into his 40's is an inspiration to us guys who are getting close to that number. I am and always have been and always will be a fan of Randy Couture. He is the best.
RICK STORY - welterweight prospect
I just would like to show my appreciation to Randy Couture by saying thank you for your commitment to the sport, paving a path for all others to follow. People with the excuse that they are too old I just mention Randy Couture's name to them.
BRAD TAVARES – middleweight prospect
Randy has helped the sport become what it is today. I can remember growing up watching his fights, and he is a great fighter, role model and person
MATT WIMAN – lightweight contender
I am a huge fan of Randy as a fighter and as a person. He is a great competitor and spokesman for the sport, though I didn't like that he was better looking and had a more youthful body than me even being twice my age. I was sad to hear of his retirement, but I’m sure he has bigger fish to fry. Randy will always be the man and I hope I'm as bad of a dude when I'm 47.
EDDIE WINELAND – former WEC bantamweight champion
Randy Couture is "the man". To be in your mid-forties and in that kind of shape, fighting men half your age, is absolutely amazing. He’s a super nice guy and he deserves everything he gets because he worked so hard for it. I wish Randy all the best in the future and I hope it continues to go up for him.
RANI YAHYA – featherweight contender
Randy was the most spectacular fighter in MMA history.
Randy Couture - A Fighters' Tribute
"Randy has been someone for fighters like myself and others to look up to for such a long time, and he will be greatly missed in the Octagon." - Frankie Edgar