Ryan Couture returns to the Bellator cage for the third time on Friday night, taking on Patricky “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 148. It’s a fight which could earn him a fifth straight win since his 2013 exit from the UFC, as he’s put together an excellent run since his two-fight losing streak in the Octagon.
Following those losses to Ross Pearson and Al Iaquinta, Couture submitted each of his four opponents, with three of those finishes coming in the first round. For the 33-year-old, this current run of success has a lot to do with him simply getting back to what he does best, and he told MMATorch recently that it’s how he’s continuing to push forward.
“I think I’ve just continued to grow more comfortable and more confident,” Couture said. “[I’m trying to] refine my game and pare down my training and really focusing on what’s been most effective for me, instead of constantly trying to learn new tricks, add new tools, getting a little further out there and trying to do fancier stuff and get away from my meat and potatoes of what makes my game effective. I’ve been trying to find new ways to enhance those things that work well for me, with the clinch work and wrestling and grappling.”
Couture says he’s not entirely abandoning his striking game, knowing full well it’s something he’ll need when things don’t go his way, but he believes the results are speaking for themselves in how he’s looked as of late.
“[I’m] just trying to stick to what’s been effective for me and really focus my game in on what works,” Couture said. “I think that’s really shown through in my last few fights, and I’m looking forward to continuing that momentum.”
The fight with “Pitbull” on Friday’s event was booked just two weeks ago after his originally scheduled opponent, Derek Anderson, was forced out due to injury. Anderson was actually Freire’s last opponent, edging out a split decision in that bout. Couture believes there were takeaways for him and his team from that bout, but feels only minor tweaks were needed in the shift from one to the other in the late replacement booking.
“That was a great fight, it was back and forth, it was super, super close, could have gone either way. I think there’s a strong argument for Patricky deserving that decision,” Couture said of the Anderson-Freire bout. “So they’re evenly matched guys, and I think there were some good takeaways for what the best approach might be to give Patricky problems and take him out of his game. We’re planning on trying to implement those, and see if we took the right things away from watching that.
“There’s definitely some adjustments there, but my overall game plan is pretty comparable no matter who I’m fighting. I’m always going to be a put the pressure on, get to the clinch and grind, and try to drag the fight to the ground and go from there kind of fighter. It was just adjusting some details on how to close the distance and re-calibrate for what Patricky’s tendencies were versus Anderson. Anderson’s rangy, with long straight punches and a lot of kicks to worry about. Patricky’s more of a bomber, and throws that overhand and his left hook with reckless abandon. Some minor adjustments, but nothing we can’t take in stride.”
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