Ryan Couture has won six of his first seven professional bouts. | Photo: Ryan O’Leary/MMAViking.com
Randy Couture has appeared in more Ultimate Fighting Championship title bouts (15) than any other fighter and remains one of only two men -- B.J. Penn is the other -- to capture UFC gold in more than one weight class. These are the considerable footsteps in which his eldest son must now follow.
Ryan Couture will make his Octagon debut in the UFC on Fuel TV 9 co-main event on Saturday, as he locks horns with “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner Ross Pearson at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. The 30-year-old admits being the son of a living legend has its own benefits and drawbacks.
“It’s opened a lot of doors,” Couture said in an interview with Fighters Only. “It’s really the only reason I am where I am. There’s a little bit of flipside to that with the added expectation. People expect a lot of things out of me that they wouldn’t ever think to expect out of someone else with seven pro fights. It’s a double-sided thing, but the pros far outweigh the cons. I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Pearson will serve as a difficult first hurdle to scale. The 28-year-old Alliance MMA representative has compiled a 6-3 record since joining the UFC in 2009, including wins over Dennis Siver, Aaron Riley and Spencer Fisher. Pearson last appeared at UFC on FX 6 in December, when he stopped Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt George Sotiropoulos on third-round punches at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
“I figured they’d throw me someone tough,” Couture said. “I’d rather fight someone who’s established and has a name. There’s really no way for me to lose, as long as I go out and perform and put up a good fight. Win or lose, I come out ahead. I like Ross a lot. I’m a fan of his. If he was fighting anybody else, I’d be cheering for him, but I’ve got to go out there and do my job and try and take him out.
“I’m expecting an exciting fight,” he added. “I know Ross is going to come forward and try and take my head off. I’ve got to be smart and avoid his power and find my spot to take him down and choke him out.”
In addition to the pressures associated with entering the UFC, Couture has had to deal with the public feud between his father -- who severed ties with the promotion to join forces with rival Bellator MMA in February -- and UFC President Dana White. “The Natural” will not be in his son’s corner in Sweden.
“I don’t really have a choice but to just roll with it,” Couture said. “Him and Dana had a falling out. Sometimes that’s how it goes. It sucks to not have him in my corner. I’m not happy about it, but it’s not make or break. I’ve still got a great team of coaches. I think I’ve got everything I need to win the fight.”
Though the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation has the final say on cornermen, Couture indicated he would respect the UFC’s wishes as it relates to his father.
“If I wanted to pick a fight, I could go over their head and go to the commission and list him as a corner, and they probably couldn’t stop him, short of having security remove him from the building on fight night, but I don’t want to get on those terms and give them a reason to be mad at me, too,” he said. “Right now, that dispute is between dad and Dana, and that’s how it should stay. It’s got nothing to do with me. I’ll go along with whatever the rules are as stated to me. Hopefully, someday they’ll change their mind. If they don’t, so be it.”
Brad Pickett wants to be the first Englishman to win a UFC championship, and the 34-year-old American Top Team representative will start his latest climb back towards title contention in a bantamweight showcase with the talented but enigmatic Mike Easton.
“Winning will get me closer,” Pickett told Sherdog.com. “I’ve been there or thereabouts for so long now. I’d love to be the first [British] guy to be able to do it.”
Easton provides his next challenge. The Alliance MMA export has won eight of his past nine bouts, though he saw a career-best winning streak snapped in a disappointing unanimous decision defeat to Raphael Assuncao at UFC on Fox 5 in December. Still, the 29-year-old Easton has Pickett’s attention.
“He’s a very talented guy,” he said. “He’s very athletic. I just feel like I’m going to be a little too much for him. I think I’ve got more tools to win this fight than he has. I know I can knock someone out, I know I can submit someone and I’m tough enough to go to a decision.
“I want to see what he’s like when he gets into deep water,” Pickett added. “I’m going to take him deep and see if he can swim.”
This & That
A former Strikeforce and Dream champion, Gegard Mousasi has delivered 26 of his 29 career finishes inside the first round ... Pablo Garza was a point guard on the men’s basketball team at Jamestown College, an NAIA school in North Dakota ... Matt Mitrione hails from Springfield, Ill., the same hometown as Abraham Lincoln, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts and musician Bobby McFerrin, a 10-time Grammy Award winner best known for his 1988 hit “Don’t Worry Be Happy” ... Nearly half (11) of the 26 fighters booked to compete at UFC on Fuel TV 9 are former cast members of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series: Tom Lawlor (Season 8), Pearson (Season 9), Mitrione (Season 10), Garza (Season 12), Michael Johnson (Season 12), Diego Brandao (Season 14), Marcus Brimage (Season 14), Akira Corassani (Season 14), Ben Alloway (“The Smashes”) Adam Cella (Season 17) and Tor Troeng (Season 17) ... Born on March 25, 1985, Besam Yousef shares a birthday with NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell and James Lovell, the American astronaut who commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission in 1970 ... Undefeated former Ring of Combat welterweight champion Ryan LaFlare has finished all seven of his opponents, four by knockout or technical knockout and three more by submission.