Ryan Couture cracks a wide smile and laughs out when asked if he ever gets the better of his famous father during the few opportunities he gets to train with Randy at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. “No,” he says when he regains his composure, “I don’t think I ever will, probably.”
As Ryan speaks it is clear he refuses to live in his father’s shadow and does not even dream of living up to that legend at this point in his young career. He is focused and humble. Randy Couture is not always able to be at the gym to mold his son into a future champion, but when he is there Ryan says they do have a good time training together. As Ryan Couture prepares for his Challenger Series match-up tonight with Lee Higgins, Randy is filming another movie. Though they train in the same place from time to time, they live in different worlds when it comes to fighting, and Ryan is very comfortable with that.
Ryan considers living up to his father’s legendary status in the sport someday as too big a goal to focus on at this stage of his career. His mission is simply “to be the best fighter I can be.” The large, expansive Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas is home to many of the world’s most famous MMA fighters. Ryan credits the trainers, coaches, fighters, atmosphere, and facility for bringing him this far into the sport of MMA.
His dad never tried to talk him out of following in his footsteps, Ryan maintains. “He’s always been real supportive just of me doin’ what I wanna do and what makes me happy,” he said. He’s been a fan of the sport for over a decade, since his father started fighting and he took an interest in his career. Around 5 years ago the 20-something Captain America’s son got into training in MMA as a hobby. As the old story goes, Ryan recalls, “The more I did it, the more I loved it.”
His ultimate goal in the sport has a nice one-day-at-a-time ring to it. “I just want to continue having fun and growing and improving as a fighter and see how far I can take it,” he explains. Already, Ryan seems to understand the schedule, routine, and structure of training camp is important. So is the constant need to explore new and proven techniques and how to blend them all together. Like most fighters, he lives for fight night when he gets to see “all that work pay off.”
The passion Ryan has for MMA is due to the fact that the sport offers “a variety of different challenges, both physical and mental.” He thrives on learning something new every day and “pushing myself to the limit.” He’s found a quick home in Showtime’s Friday Night “Challenger Series” put on by Strikeforce and featuring up and coming fighters like his 2-0 opponent Lee Higgins, who won both of his first two fights by submission. As for his own favorite submission move, Ryan favors the triangle choke.
Ryan really appreciates the exposure offered by the Strikeforce and Showtime collaboration. He likes the fact that the Challenger Series allows fighters to “cut our teeth” on a bigger stage than they would be on if they were having to fight on a variety of regional and local shows. It’s clear Ryan’s still ready for a long career when he affirms his plans to stick with the sport through thick and thin. The 28-year old MMA prospect promises to fight “as long as my body holds up.”
Ryan is confident in Strikeforce’s future and has no real desire to enter the ranks of the UFC. “Oh, I got no plans there,” he said when asked if he’d like to end up in the UFC. “I’m really happy with Strikeforce.” If all goes well and he continues to up his game he knows he may have a chance to fight for a title in Strikeforce someday, and the thought of that is enough to keep him motivated. He is inspired by the “homegrown approach” of the organization and the Challenger Series cards he fights on.
Lee Higgins is a tough, slick, talented fighter. Even Ryan agrees he’s a formidable foe. “He’s real aggressive, and I’ll be expecting him to bring the fight to me,” said Couture. “I’m looking forward to a good challenge.”
Higgins is not intimidated by the name of his opponent at all. “I can’t and won’t allow myself to get caught up in the hype of fighting a fighter with a very famous last name,” he said at a recent press conference. “Sure, there is extra motivation but I am not going to put any more pressure on myself. So, I have to treat this as just another fight. Besides, I’m fighting Ryan, not Randy. I’ve watched his tapes and broken them down. I’m ready to fight the fight. There is no pressure. If anything, the pressure is on Ryan. I’m looking forward to a great, exciting fight.’’
HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S GETTING INTO
Even though he looks the picture of health and seems confident, quiet, and established, Ryan Couture is smart enough to know there’s a long road ahead. It could be full of incredible obstacles and impossible odds. Talking to him you get the feeling he’s prepared for any scenario that might unfold for him in MMA. It’s clearly a measure of the good parenting he’s had, and having a famous father has done nothing but help in this case.
No matter how much pressure might be piled on his shoulders by the press, the fans, the coaches, or even his own father, Ryan isn’t bothered by any comparisons that might be made between him and his dad Randy.
“I think people expect a lot of things from me and they pay a lot more close attention to me than they would if it wasn’t for him, but I don’t resent that at all,” Ryan maintained. “I knew that’s what I was getting into when I started doing this.”