MMATORCH INTERVIEW – RYAN COUTURE: “There’s no pressure (at Bellator) that seems to hang around at every UFC event.”

By Matthew Peterson, MMATorch columnist

Bellator NYC is on the fast track to being one of the biggest cards of 2017.  The event hosts three title fights as well as Fedor-Mitrione and the grudge match of Sonnen-Wanderlei.  Bellator NYC also has a library of notable names fighting on the prelims, one of those being Ryan Couture, son of the legend Randy Couture.

Ryan Couture was an accomplished amateur wrestler before following his father into MMA and has carved out a career of his own.  He had a two fight stint in the UFC before being cut and found his way to Bellator where he holds a 2-2 record.  Couture will headline the prelim card against dangerous journeyman Haim Gozali.  I spoke with Couture last week and this is our conversation.

Peterson:  Hey Ryan, how’s everything going so far in camp?  Are you still training at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas?

Couture:  Doing great, thanks.  Nope, still at Xtreme Couture full time.  Working here, coaching here, training here, so I’m still pretty much here all the time.

Peterson:  How does it feel, knowing you’re coming up fighting at Madison Square Garden?

Couture:  I’m super excited.  Obviously it’s such a historic venue and Bellator has put together a crazy card so I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Peterson:  Yeah, it’s a wild looking card.  The undercard is incredibly stacked.  I see your opponent just had his first fight in almost four years.  Do you feel you have any advantage by staying active in comparison?

Couture:  Yeah, I think it certainly couldn’t hurt.  He took that big long layoff and it looks like he polished some things up.  He definitely looked better in his recent fights and looked more comfortable in there than some of his older fights I was able to find.  I think that will pose an interesting challenge for me in that there isn’t a lot of recent footage for me to look at and what to expect from him.  He’s certainly added some new tricks in that time that he was away and that makes things a little more unpredictable than they might have been otherwise.  I think that my consistency and not taking huge long breaks helps, I’ve never been away longer than about six months, and that’ll play to my advantage.

Peterson:  I know recently a lot of guys have discussed ring rust, some claim it exists and others say it’s a non-factor.  What’s your take on that?

Couture:  I think it comes down to your preparation, especially your mental preparation.  If you spend your time visualizing things can help calm your nerves, especially for me.  I like to visualize being backstage, warming up and waiting for my turn to walk to the cage.  It even comes down to little details, down to what the canvas feels like under my feet, and I can acclimate myself to some of those things that would normally throw me off well ahead of time.  If I can visual those things at home and trigger those nervous and emotional responses in a safe space before they ever happen, then I feel like I’m that much more comfortable and prepared for it when it’s the real thing.

Peterson:  So let’s say you take a win in New York, is there any fight or any specific guy you’re looking to fight afterwards?

Couture:   No, I’ll just be looking to get back to my home weight class at 155 and drive to work my way back into title contention.  I feel like I had some good momentum going and I was starting to get myself into that title picture.  I had a couple of bad moments that took me out of the picture last year so I’ll have to start over.  I’m ready to get back into that win column in the Garden on the 24th and get my next opportunity at lightweight to get back into that title picture.

Peterson:  You’re in Bellator now after a two fight stint in the UFC.  People have talked a lot about the new Bellator under Scott Coker.  If you can, what are some of the difference you feel between fighting for the UFC and fighting for Bellator?

Couture:  It just kind of feels more like coming home to see all my friends and family every time I come out to fight week with Bellator.  It just feels so comfortable and I get along so well with everyone.  There’s no pressure that seems to hang around at every UFC event; everyone is so worried about their jobs being on the line all the time now.  It’s not a spoken thing, but everyone these was so pleasant to work with and I have plenty of good friends from all my time there.  I have nothing bad to say about the people, but there’s just that element of pressure hanging in the air and it takes some of the fun out of the experience.

Peterson:  You’ve had a lengthy career in MMA yourself at this point.  Do you think you’re at the point in your career where you’re more than just Randy Couture’s son?

Couture:  Yeah, I’m working for it all the time.  Obviously he’s a legend and an icon in the sport and I wouldn’t want that to ever go away.  That association is going to be with me for the rest of my life and he’s my favorite fighter too, so I don’t mind talking about it.  The more I do in my career, the more I build my own resume and those dad questions will be kind of secondary.  That’s a good feeling, too. That means I’m doing my job and I’m accomplishing something myself.  It is what it is and I knew that before I ever took my first fight that this was something that would follow me through my whole career and I’m completely okay with it.

Peterson:  That’s all I got you for now. We’re excited to watch you fight come the 24th in New York.

Couture:  I appreciate it. Looking forward to putting on a show for everyone.

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