Ryan Couture (8-3) knows that the last image most fight fans have of him is less than favorable. Couture went 0-2 in the UFC last year before being released by the promotion. After a two fight winning streak on the regional level, Couture returns to the big stage this Friday opposite John Schulz at Bellator 124. For Couture this represents a chance for him to erase that lasting UFC image.
“Absolutely,” admitted Couture when asked if he wanted to use his fight this Friday to rid the fan’s memories of his UFC run. “I definitely want to erase that from my own memory as best as I can too. I really don’t feel I performed well in both of those fights and the results showed that. I’m excited to show people what it’s like when I go out there and perform my best and what I’m capable of. This fight will get the ball rolling on that, get a new streak going, and get some momentum in my favor.”
To get momentum back in his favor, Couture stayed home in Las Vegas, Nevada to train for this fight. “Training camp was great,” said Couture. We have a phenomenal group out at Xtreme Couture. There’s a lot of guys there training for big fights coming up so it’s been fantastic training. The team has got me feeling better than I ever have.”
Couture further elaborated on his training and contributed his great training camp to his high level training partners. “I spent quite a bit of time with my teammate Justin James who is also fighting this Friday,” said Couture. “He’s a tough up and comer that I’ve been working with for a few years. That fact that we had a fight on the same card made it very convenient. We’ve also got the UFC’s Kevin Lee, Bryan Caraway has been around a lot. I’m sure I’m leaving a bunch of people out but we’ve got a great crew out here that make sure I’m in the shape that I need to be in.”
Couture has spent all but two bouts in what could be considered the “big leagues” of MMA. The Las Vegas based fighter made his debut and fought seven times for Strikeforce before transitioning over to the UFC. For Couture it was an extremely positive experience and something that he wouldn’t change one bit.
“It’s forced me into tough fight after tough fight,” stated Couture. “There’s never really been an easy night out there for me except for maybe my first couple fights in the StrikeForce Challenger’s series. Every other opponent I’ve had has been incredibly tough and that’s forced me to be on my game and to work hard in the gym. There is absolutely no room for error at that level. The experience helped solidify me into the hard worker that I am and to always be professional about fighting. It’s just all good experience that I was able to learn from.”
After nine fights on the big stage, Couture was released by the UFC and picked up two wins on the regional circuit. The brief stop outside of the spotlight was highly beneficial for Couture. “It was a chance for me to go back and fine tune some things and not have to worry about having so many eyes on me,” said Couture. “It was a little less pressure, but at the same time they were must win fights if I ever wanted to get back on a televised card and into a big promotion. There were two sides to that coin but it allowed me to get the fights I needed to get back on track and work my way back up.”
Couture’s two wins on the regional circuit were dominant enough to warrant a call back to the big leagues and may have signaled that the fighter is ready to turn a corner in his career. With a few impressive performances in Bellator, Couture could find himself on the verge of a title shot. “I think I’ll be right there in that mix with a couple of good wins,” stated Couture. “Bellator is bringing in a lot of good guys with great wins so it may be a longer road to the title shot. It’s a pretty deep weight division and Bellator has some really impressive lightweights so there are a lot of challenges ahead of me.”
Couture’s first fight on the road to a title shot is against John Schulz. Schulz has fought twice in Bellator and currently owns a 5-2 record. While Schulz should be respected as a professional mixed martial artist, he has yet to defeat a fighter that has a winning percentage over .500. Couture knows of Schulz record but acknowledges that his opponent will present multiple challenges.”Everybody is dangerous, but anything can happen,” Couture admitted. “He’s going to be bigger and probably physically stronger than I am so that makes things interesting, but I think I’ll have the technical edge. I that that I’ll be able to go out there put on a strong performance and pull off an impressive victory.”
As for how Couture will pick up his impressive victory, he has two distinct possibilities. “[The fight will end] with me on top either submitting him or pounding away to a TKO.”
Should Couture pick up the victory this Friday, he has no plans for a special post fight interview a la Stephan Bonnar. “Absolutely not,” Couture laughed when asked if he will have a masked man in the cage with him during his post-fight interview. “If there is it’ll be an absolute shock to me, so I sure hope not.”
Bellator 124 goes down this Friday night and will air live on Spike TV. The card is headlined by a Light-Heavyweight title fight between Champion Emanuel Newton and challenger Joey Beltran.
For all of your Bellator 124 coverage, visit SciFighting.com.