Randy Couture's body of work is unsurpassed, really. Athletes simply do not achieve (unless artificially enhanced) at the stage of life in which "The Natural" finds himself still competing.
His body of work is unnecessary to rehash on this particular forum. Fans who peruse such a website are in the know: The late start, the quick rise to prominence, the astounding capacity to learn fast, game-plan and execute, the multiple belts, the multitude of "upsets."
We know his bio. Hopefully, we appreciate it, because the participatory part of it draws to a close Saturday.
In Couture's story, his body of work can perhaps only be trumped by his actual body, which to this day - even upon the threshold of his coda - has spun Father Time for a loop.
Seriously, take a hard look at this peculiar human being as he climbs his chiseled frame into the octagon, presumably, for the last time at UFC 129 to face Lyoto Machida.
Couture is 47.
Take away two gnarled ears and an aged face that bears scars to go with the glint of wisdom, and he could pass for a studly college senior.
Most men, even elite athletes, cannot maintain their sinew deep into middle age. Or, they never had any to begin with. Or they see no point in fighting a lost cause.
But Randy is a fighter -- maybe the quintessential fighter to this point in MMA history. First, he fought to extend his athletic career even while the new sport wallowed in the land of taboo, on the outskirts of mass consciousness. Later, he helped lift the sport to acceptability, all the while fighting off that damn relentless concept of deterioration.
Couture is an oddball in many facets, but the sturdiness of his body is the most striking. Without such a body, and a work ethic to keep it humming, he never could've become the wrestler-turned-fighter pioneer that we all admire. And it's not something I imagine we'll see a repeat of, unless performance-enhancing drugs are legalized.
This is a man who, on an episode of "Fight Science" a few years ago, used his body composition to debunk a scientific truth. Hooked up to a machine that would measure the expected increase in his lactic acid level as he executed a choke hold for one minute, Couture - flexing and squeezing and straining - inexplicably decreased those numbers.
Off camera, the computer likely conked out at its un-Natural findings. Another win for this stubborn athlete.
Despite his age (gee, how many times has a sentence about Couture started that way?), he appears capable of continuing his in-cage career, not just as an also-ran, with a company with which he has become identifiable. He wouldn't be placed in a title picture, but he'd still share top billing and draw matchups with ranked fighters, i.e. Machida.
Speaking of "The Dragon," could there be a more fitting counterpart for Couture to close his book against? (Thank goodness it wasn't that joke against James Toney.) Machida's spot in this match fulfills all of the required bullet-points we've come to expect in a Couture fight.
- Machida is younger (by 15 years) and by all accounts is considered the more threatening of the pair, largely because of his age advantage.
- Couture is the underdog, even though Machida is on a two-match losing streak that has stripped him of an aura of invincibility.
- Machida employs an elusive style and various strengths that figure to...