Randy Couture Shares The Origins Of His Fighting Monikers
Randy Couture is one of the most decorated fighters in UFC history. He was the first man to win belts in two different weight classes, at heavyweight and light heavyweight, and his combined reigns are among the longest in the promotion’s history.
While a lot is known about the man himself, not many fans know the origins of his ‘The Natural’ and ‘Captain America’ monikers. Couture, who competed in MMA for 14 years after a successful wrestling career, never gave himself these nicknames. Yet they have become a major part of his legacy.
Speaking to Burt Watson on MMA Junkie’s Legend 2 Legend, Couture revealed how he got his nicknames. At UFC 15, he faced Vitor Belfort for the heavyweight championship, and went on to win by TKO despite the fact that not many fans and critics were giving him a chance. It was in a post-fight magazine interview that his moniker ‘The Natural’ was born.
“Joe Gold was running the only real publication in MMA at that time. It was called Full Contact Fighter Magazine, and he was the editor-in-chief and owner,” Couture revealed. “He wanted to do an interview after the fight and he said, ‘Hey, you adapted to his style in beating boxing. You were a natural. Is it OK if I call you that?’
“And I was like, ‘Well, hell, I’ve been called worse things.’ And he wrote that in the article that he put in Full Contact Fighter Magazine. And that just kind of stuck and it became the nickname that everyone associated me with from that fight and that article.”
At UFC 34, Couture put his heavyweight title on the line against Brazil’s Pedro Rizzo in Las Vegas, a couple of months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that rocked the US. The Washington native walked out dressed in red, white and blue (symbolic of the American flag) as a tribute, and at that moment, play-by-play commentator Joe Rogan referred to him as ‘Captain America’.
“My first fight in Las Vegas at MGM [Grand], this was with the new owners. Joe Rogan was on the announcing team, and back then, Joe Rogan was doing the behind-the-scenes interviews and there were other guys that were doing the actual announcing,” Couture recalled. “Joe was doing the behind-the-scenes interviews backstage and got moved up when the new owners, Dana White and the Fertittas, bought it in 2001.
“I’m fighting Pedro Rizzo. It was my first time seeing my name and face on billboards and it was a huge experience. Also, that fight occurred right after 9/11 and the first show that we had after 9/11. They were still doing pyrotechnics for entrances at the show. I chose to wear a red, white and blue track suit when I walked out. And when I walked out, I saluted the crowd and Joe Rogan said, ‘That right there is Captain America. That guy is my hero.’ And that’s where it came from. It kind of stuck.”
Randy Couture last fought ten years ago, losing to Lyoto Machida at UFC 129. Away from the fight game, the 57 year old has starred in a handful of movies and TV shows in the last decade and a half.