Randy “The Natural” Couture has always been and always will be one of the classiest athletes, not only in MMA, but in all of sports. He’s always been a true sportsman, whether in victory or in defeat. That being said, it’s comically poetic that he would say that the only way he would return to professional fighting would be to take on aging action star Steven Seagal.
In Couture’s parting battle of his professional sports career, he suffered a crushing blow to the face at the hands—actually foot—of Shotokan master Lyoto Machida. Machida landed a quick and simple hop-in front kick square on Couture’s grill, cracking teeth and knocking him out near the beginning of the second round at UFC 129.
The funny thing is, Couture’s humble humor has always been part of his repertoire and is why he is one of the classiest athletes ever. “The Natural” always cracks jokes and even made fun of the fact that he was going to need dental work after Machida’s kick to his teeth.
In point sparring, kickboxing, continuous fighting, or any other striking modality that allows kicks to the body or head, the hop-in front kick is an extremely effective and sometimes sneaky way to close distance and do serious damage. Of course, some of the MMA media outlets coined it a “crane kick like in The Karate Kid,” but knowledgeable martial arts practitioners know that the actual kick performed was a hop-in front kick. The technique is just not utilized enough in MMA. In standard Machida form, the Japanese-Brazilian had no desire to fight in close range and kept his usual elusive distance until he was ready to strike.
That being said, it’s ridiculous that a fourth dan black belt in Shotokan that has been learning and perfecting this kick for, literally, his entire capable life, would ever need to be instructed it by a seventh dan black belt in Aikido. What makes the situation worse is that Machida actually credited Seagal with teaching him the technique, which is a complete farce, as a Shotokan expert who’s had a black belt for 20 years would clearly know a hop-in front kick.
The story behind that kick is so ridiculous that it makes it all the more comical that Couture would call out Seagal. Seagal is 60 years old and completely out of shape, and although Couture is 49 years old, there has always been something very unnatural about that man. He was fighting like a mid-30-year-old late into his forties. There are several UFC fighters in their twenties and thirties that would have a hard time just making it into the second round with him.
If this wasn’t an obvious joke on the part of Couture, what could happen if he ever got the shot at Seagal?
It’s safe to say that Couture would beat the dickens out of the reality/movie star in quick fashion, most likely utilizing his dirty boxing to pin Seagal against the cage and pound on him until he got the TKO. Especially after the Machida fight, because that experience would take a lot of the surprise factor off of Seagal’s striking palette.
Couture is a professional MMA fighter of fifteen years, winning the undisputed strap in two different weight classes on five different occasions, and is a Pan American gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. Seagal has been studying Aikido since he was a kid, but has never fought professionally—choreographed fighting scenes not included.
Even if Seagal tried to take the time to get ready for this type of fight, by the time he would be in proper condition, he would be at least 62 and needing a couple of tune-up fights, where he might get pretty tuned up himself. That puts him way too close to Social Security to be stepping into a cage with professional athletes.
Seagal certainly deserves the respect of a man of his Aikido credentials, but his MMA prowess will never be realistically challenged for no other reason than timing. Seagal is further past his prime than Couture, and it’s pretty unfair to even lay down the comparison, but Seagal brought it upon himself.
Seagal, in what appeared to be nothing more than a ridiculous attempt to promote his reality show, Steven Seagal: Lawman, started making appearances at UFC events, after supposedly spending some time training a few Black House fighters, including Machida and middleweight champion Anderson Silva. In fact, a video surfaced in 2010 of Seagal teaching Silva a few Aikido moves, as well as a basic front kick against a wall. The following year, Silva defeated Vitor Belfort by first-round knockout with none other than a front kick square to the jaw, which, of course, Seagal took credit for.
With all of the superhuman striking that both Machida and Silva have performed throughout their impressive careers, it’s safe to say that without Seagal’s “consulting” these guys would have done just fine. It almost makes a person wonder if he actually paid to swing by their camps just for the publicity.
For a decorated professional like Couture, it was probably laughable at best to hear Machida credit Seagal with his career-concluding knockout. It’s actually even more humorous when you consider that every action star ever, including Couture, is in The Expendables movie franchise, but Seagal is not. Maybe the producers could bring Seagal into the third installment, so he can fight Couture on his turf, in choreographed fight scenes. That would be a lot easier for Seagal than trying to make it through a professional MMA training camp.
Of course, comparisons have been made between the unrealistic challenge of Seagal and the actual Couture vs. James Toney fight. However, this match-up is not even in the same ballpark. James Toney was 42 years old when he fought Couture and had 85 professional boxing matches under his belt, nine of which were undisputed championship wins. Toney brought that embarrassment onto himself, because he felt that MMA was an inferior sport to boxing, and that he would walk right in and win. Well, Toney found out the hard way that MMA is more than just punching people in the face, as Couture choked him out in the first round. Couture may not take the same strategy in a fight against Seagal, but the outcome would be the same—Couture over “The Lawman” by stoppage.
The fact of the matter remains that Couture commented about only coming out of retirement to fight Seagal in MMA. While it is obvious that this was all in good fun and would never happen, if Couture got his hands on the Aikido master, MMA would once again prevail.
Top Photo: Randy Couture (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)