Randy Couture photos courtesy of © Zuffa, LLC d/b/a Ultimate Fighting Championship ®
By Ryan Penagos
For more than a decade, UFC heavyweight champion Randy "The Natural" Couture has been racking up titles, accolades and victories in the Octagon. His experience in the Army and training as a world-class wrestler has helped Couture capture UFC gold five times—in two different weight classes—and propelled him into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2006.
As the only UFC fighter to win a championship after being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the oldest UFC champ at age 45, there's little Couture hasn't done in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA). Now, after a year away from UFC over contract matters, the champ returns to defend his title against the hulking contender Brock Lesnar.
a punch vs.
But before the two square off this Saturday, November 15 at UFC 91 in Las Vegas, available on Pay-Per-View, we snagged a few minutes with Couture to shoot the breeze. Why would Marvel.com want to chat with the master fighter—other than because he's just plain awesome? It's because Couture has also garnered the nickname "Captain America." Read on to find out how Couture became Captain America, which Marvel movie he auditioned for and much more.
Marvel.com: Seeing as you're nicknamed Captain America and your fight with Brock Lesnar's coming up this Saturday, it seemed like a cool opportunity to let Marvel fans know what you're up to. How was it that you became Captain America in the eyes of millions of UFC fans?
Joe's [Rogan, UFC commentator] the first guy that started that on one of the Pay-Per-Views.
And are you a Marvel fan?
I have some knowledge of the characters. I mean, who doesn't? I have one of the collectors' [edition] Captain America books somebody sent me. That was very cool, when Joe Rogan started calling me Captain America on TV—I started getting all sorts of memorabilia sent to me. It's pretty cool.
Marvel.com: So, how did the Cap nickname come about from Joe? Was it after a win or during a fight?
It was during a fight. I can't remember if it was the very first Chuck [Liddell] fight or the Tito [Ortiz] fight. It was one of those two fights when he first [called me Captain America] and then people started doing renderings of me in the suit. It was pretty crazy.
Marvel.com: Sounds pretty awesome to us! As far as other Marvel characters go are you a fan of Iron Man, Spider Man, Daredevil…Any of those guys?
All of those. I read for a part in "Daredevil." I didn't actually get the part. I was going to be Elektra's bodyguard.
Marvel.com: That stinks. Have you gotten much movie work since?
I've actually been in several pictures now. I just did the "Scorpion King II" this last summer.
Marvel.com: Alright, let's jump back to a little bit of history about you. When did you realize you wanted to get into mixed martial arts?
Over the course of the summer of 1996 and then into the spring of 1997. I was introduced to the sport by one of my athletes at Oregon State University wrestling who showed me a videotape of one of the UFCs.
ready for action
It just happened to be a UFC one of my former college teammates was fighting on, Don Frye. I was immediately intrigued by the sport, the direct application of years of wrestling training and skills in the sport.
It was a little different back then. You filled out an application. I think they were still holding on to the idea that they wanted all of these different martial arts styles to compete against each other and it hadn't become the hybrid sport it is now.
I applied through the encouragement of a friend of mine, and they put me on an alternate list. They told me they had enough wrestlers and wanted more exotic martial artists.
I just went on about my business wrestling for the national team and coaching at the college. About six months later they called me and said: "Hey, you're on the alternate list. We have a spot in the heavyweight tournament. Are you still interested in fighting?" And I said: "Of course, yeah. That would be great." That was two weeks from my first UFC.
So I jumped right in, and fortunately things went well.
Marvel.com: That was back when it was still tournament style?
Yeah, it was a four-man bracket. They had moved away from the eight-man bracket to the four man tournament. I fought twice in one night that first UFC—UFC 13.
Marvel.com: That's nuts—fighting two different dudes in the same night…How does that compare to what you do now?
Well yeah, it's difficult. I think I've been in a tournament format after that as well. It's always difficult with a tournament format. Aside from the amount of energy you expend in one fight; then you have to recover and go back out again. Technically, you never know who's going to advance and who you face in the second fight in the tournament format, so that makes it difficult. In a lot of ways you are just winging it.
Marvel.com: We were taking a look at your upcoming fight against Brock Lesnar. Let's say you're Captain America—Brock kind of has this Incredible Hulk-like presence to him. Has anybody else brought this up to you?
No! Not yet!
Marvel.com: It's kind of crazy. He's big, but you have this persona about you that's just—it doesn't matter. You can take down anybody, so it's really cool. You really have this Captain America thing going…
That was pretty interesting. We have to give Joe [Rogan] credit for that one.
Marvel.com: How are you personally sizing up Brock?
All I see is a big strong athlete. He's got a collegiate wrestling background. He's been in pro wrestling for about ten years. He's had about three MMA fights, so he's still pretty green to the sport, but he's got a great athletic background.
Brock's a big strong guy. You don't find guys his size that move the way he moves very often. So that makes him pretty unique. Should be a war.
How would Randy fight Marvel characters? Come back to Marvel.com tomorrow Friday, November 14 for a Special Edition Marvel Hotline and hear it first in Randy's own words!
Watch Randy Couture take on Brock Lesnar this Saturday, November 15 on Pay-Per-View at UFC 91!
Read Captain America comics now on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
Check out the official Marvel Shop for the best mighty Marvel merchandise!