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Randy Couture - The Magnificent Seven

UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture returns to the Octagon on August 28th to face future boxing Hall of Famer James "Lights Out" Toney in the co-main event of UFC 118 in Boston. Here are seven of Couture's most memorable victories.

Vitor Belfort I – October 17, 1997 – UFC 15
Result – Couture TKO 1

Entering this bout at UFC 15 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Randy Couture was virtually unknown in MMA, with two UFC wins under his belt and an impressive resume as a world-class wrestler.  Belfort was another story completely.  The 20-year-old wunderkind had three UFC victories under his belt, but each of his wins were frenetic displays of Tyson-esque speed and power.  Belfort was ‘The Phenom’, and no one expected him to lose anytime soon, let alone to the soft-spoken 34-year-old from Oregon.  Couture threw a wrench in the works that night though, stopping Belfort at the 8:16 mark and changing the face of MMA forever.  Couture would never be underestimated again – well, maybe a couple times, but with the same end result.

Kevin Randleman – November 17, 2000 – UFC 28
Result – Couture TKO 3

In Couture’s next bout after beating Belfort, he earned the UFC heavyweight title by decisioning Maurice Smith, but after a contract dispute, he left the organization for almost three years and four fights (with losses to Enson Inoue and Mikhail Illoukhine).  Upon his return in November of 2000, Kevin Randleman was the new champion and intent on keeping his crown.  Couture had other ideas, scoring a third round stoppage of the Hammer House standout to regain his title in his first fight back.

Pedro Rizzo I – May 4, 2001 – UFC 31
Result – Couture W5 (Unanimous)

Another Brazilian with heavy hands was next for Couture in the UFC, and once again, ‘The Natural’ was seen by many as the underdog against Pedro Rizzo, an underachiever with spectacular natural talent.  Once the bell rang though, it was Couture’s will and heart that ruled the day as he pounded out a close but well-earned unanimous decision over ‘The Rock’.  Want to know how much heart he showed that night? Ask anyone who was at the post-fight conference about Couture barely able to walk to his seat on the podium after eating Rizzo’s hellacious leg kicks for five rounds.

Chuck Liddell I – June 6, 2003 – UFC 43
Result – Couture TKO 3

Talk about a trial by fire.  In Couture’s first bout at 205 pounds, he gets matched up with Liddell, a fighter who hadn’t lost in four years.  But then he goes out and not only beats ‘The Iceman’, he stops him.  It was one of the great comeback stories of the game, only to be surpassed by…

Tito Ortiz – September 26, 2003 – UFC 44
Result – Couture W5 (Unanimous)

…a win over the sport’s acknowledged superstar at the time, Tito Ortiz.  Having not taken a match with Liddell yet, Ortiz knew that a win over the man who beat ‘The Iceman’ would settle a lot of arguments.  Couture wasn’t playing along though, and ‘The Natural’ went from elite fighter to icon over the space of his 25 minute domination of ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’, who had no answers for the game’s ageless wonder.  

Tim Sylvia – March 3, 2007 – UFC 68
Result – Couture W5
The lead-up to the 2007 bout between Couture and Tim Sylvia was similar to that before Evander Holyfield’s first fight with Mike Tyson. People weren’t concerned that Couture might lose; they were concerned that he was going to get seriously hurt. Consider that Couture was come off a year-long retirement predicated by a knockout loss to Chuck Liddell, and that in his two previous bouts at heavyweight, he was stopped by Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett. Add in Sylvia’s 6 foot 8, 265 pound frame, and it was going to be a long night for Couture. And it was a long night, 25 minutes worth, but in those 25 minutes, Couture turned back the clock with a dominating performance that had the fans in Columbus, Ohio on their feet from start to finish as he won his unprecedented third UFC heavyweight title, and fifth title overall.

Gabriel Gonzaga – August 25, 2007 – UFC 74
Result – Couture TKO3

Still basking in the glow of his stirring win over Sylvia, Couture jumped right back into the fray against Brazilian contender Gabriel Gonzaga. The Jiu-Jitsu black belt was coming off a devastating head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop in his previous bout and – you guessed it – Couture was an underdog again. But despite receiving an arm fracture while blocking one of Gonzaga’s hellacious kicks, the champion kept the pressure on his foe from the opening bell until the referee pulled him off Gonzaga at the 1:37 mark of the third round. Just another night’s work for one of the sport’s true greats.