By Hepi Mita, Vegas DeLuxe photo archivist
Heading into his career as a professional MMA fighter, Ryan Couture knows that he'll be judged by the hefty standards set by his father, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture.
“If I’m able to make even a fraction as much of a name for myself as Dad has, that will be a major accomplishment I’d be proud of,” Ryan Couture said.
Couture’s last amateur fight takes place at today’s Tuff-N-Uff Future Stars of MMA at The Orleans when he takes on Sean Bollinger (1-0) for the vacant 155-pound title.
“We’ve had a lot of great fighters, but [Ryan] is definitely up there,” said Tuff-N-Uff President Barry Meyer. “He is without a doubt one of, if not the most, competitive guys we’ve seen at 155.”
Couture (5-1) comes into the match riding the momentum of a three-fight winning streak in which he has submitted all of his opponents in the first round.
“I’ve just gotten more comfortable with the idea of being a fighter,” he said. “That process, from managing nerves on fight day to cutting weight properly and just every little thing that goes into getting ready and performing on fight night, is just getting better with each bout.”
Couture is so confident that even a loss against Bollinger won’t affect his plans to go pro.
“After each fight, I actually feel like I’m at a level where I can compete professionally,” Couture said. “Just the simple fact of taking a loss won’t affect that either way. Those are the bitter steps. It’s just a part of fighting -- you’re going to lose.”
There are some aspects of a professional career that make Couture uncomfortable, despite his confidence.
“I actually have been half putting off getting an agent or manager,” he said. “I really have to look for someone who can come through and manage my career once I decide to take that next step. In the next couple of months, that’s going to be an interesting process.”
Couture also has had few opportunities to test his striking, with all of his wins coming via submission.
“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to knock someone out,” he said. “I do enough sparring in the gym to know that I have those skills. It’s just a matter of using them and feeling confident that they’ll be around when I need them.”
But the absence of a knockout from his highlight reel doesn’t seem to bother him.
“I can’t say I’m disappointed,” he said. “I’ve been able to take the opportunities that have been presented and make the most of them. I don’t think I’d ever like to be someone who would pass up an advantageous position on the ground in order to go for the knockout. I just don’t think that would be fighting intelligently.”
Couture’s main concern, however, has been the shift from two-minute rounds in amateur MMA to the much longer five-minute rounds featured in the pros.
“It’s going to be that much more work on those cardio days, which are brutal enough as it is,” he said.
Couture is unsure what the future holds for him, preferring to take things one fight at a time.
“I never try to place any expectation on how far I can take this thing,” Couture said. “I’m just doing it because it’s something that I love to do and can hopefully make a living at.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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