Randy Couture Interview
Randy Couture (born June 22, 1963) is an American mixed martial artist, Greco-Roman wrestler, actor, a three-time former heavyweight champion and a two-time light-heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Couture is one of only two UFC fighters to have held a championship title in two different divisions (heavyweight and light heavyweight; B.J. Penn, with his titles at welterweight and lightweight, is the other) in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as well as the only five-time champion in UFC history. Couture has competed in 15 title fights, a record. Couture is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame and many consider him to be the most popular fighter in MMA history.
Couture was an Olympic wrestling alternate, and has lived in Corvallis, Oregon throughout much of his career, where he served as an assistant wrestling coach and a strength and conditioning coach for Oregon State University. He established Team Quest with Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson, a training camp for fighters, based out of Gresham, Oregon, and headed by coach Robert Folis. In 2005 Couture moved to Las Vegas, where he opened his own extensive chain of gyms under the name Xtreme Couture. He currently trains at his Las Vegas-based gym. Couture also partnered with Bas Rutten in the opening of Legends Gym in Hollywood, California.
Couture is generally recognized as a clinch and ground-and-pound fighter who uses his wrestling ability to execute take downs, establish top position and successively strike the opponent on the bottom. Couture has also displayed a variety of skills in boxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; submitting three opponents using different chokeholds. Couture is the only athlete in UFC history to win a championship after becoming a Hall of Fame member and is the oldest title holder ever (in the UFC and MMA). Along with Chuck Liddell, Couture is widely credited for bringing mixed martial arts into the mainstream of American pop culture and sports.
Couture wrestled at Alderwood Middle School in Lynnwood, Washington then moved onto Lynnwood High School where he won a State Championship during his senior year. Couture served in the U.S. Army from 1982–1988.
Upon discharge, he became a three-time Olympic team alternate (1988, 1992 and 1996); a semifinalist at the 2000 Olympic Trials; a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-I All-American and a two-time NCAA Division-I runner-up at Oklahoma State University.
In 1992 he was the Division-I runner up at 190 pounds, coming in second after Mark Kerr. Couture was settling into life as a wrestling coach, until he saw a video of a UFC event and decided to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.
Randy Couture made his MMA debut at UFC 13, in May 1997. He entered the 4-man Heavyweight tournament, his first opponent being Tony Halme, also known as WWE wrestler Ludvig Borga. Outweighted by nearly 100 lbs, Couture scored a double-leg takedown right off the bat. After working some ground and pound, he got a back mount and secured a rear naked choke win in just less than a minute. His second fight that night was in the tournament finals against Steven "3d" Graham, yet another larger opponent at 290 lbs. Again Randy took the fight to the ground, scoring a TKO win at 3:13 minutes of the first round.
His next UFC appearance was in October 17, 1997, at UFC 15. He fought Vitor Belfort to determine the number 1 challenger of the Heavyweight belt. Couture was a massive underdog in that fight, as the 19-year-old Belfort was not only a Carlson Gracie blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but also had extremely fast hands and punching power, and was scheduled to compete for the Olympic trials in boxing for Brazil.
Couture put on a display that began to earn him the reputation of a master strategist in the sport. After circling away from Vitor's powerful left hand, Couture got the clinch, but was unable to score a takedown. The fighters broke up, and when Vitor attempted a flurry of punches, Couture changed levels and took the fight to the ground. He immediately gained side control and landed strikes, and as Vitor scrambled to his feet, he also scored with knee strikes. Back on the feet Randy clinched again and wore Vitor out with dirty boxing. Around the 7 minute mark, Vitor was exhausted. Couture yet again took the fight to the ground, and finished with punches from back mount in what was one of the biggest upsets in early MMA history.
His next fight took place on December 21, 1997, at UFC Japan. He fought the then Heavyweight champion, Maurice Smith, who was making his second title defense after winning the belt from Mark Coleman earlier that year. In a slow paced, calculated fight, neither fighter was able to damage the other, but Randy scored several takedowns and had the positional control throughout the fight. After 21 minutes, he won a majority decision and became the new UFC heavyweight champion.
In 1998, the UFC wanted Couture to defend his belt against Bas Rutten, former King of Pancrase. Randy instead signed with Vale Tudo Japan and was stripped of the heavyweight belt. In Japan, he was matched up against Enson Inoue. After taking the fight to the ground, he was forced to tap out to an armbar just more than 90 seconds into the first round. His next fight was in March 20, 1999, for the Japanese Rings promotion. There he suffered a very controversial loss to Mikhail Illoukhine via Kimura, one which many fans blamed on a mistake by the referee. After that loss, Couture took a break from MMA to focus on his amateur wrestling career, with the 2000 Summer Olympics in sight.
He returned to MMA in October 2000 for the Rings King of Kings 2000 Tournament, where he defeated UFC veteran Jeremy Horn by unanimous decision in his first fight and defeated Pancrase veteran Ryushi Yanagisawa, also by unanimous decision, in the second fight. These two wins qualified him for the finals of the tournament, which would take place in early 2001. Before that, he was offered a shot at the UFC heavyweight title against Kevin Randleman in Nov. 17, 2000. Randy was taken down in the first two rounds, but he showed very good defense from his back, frustrating most of Kevin's ground and pound attempts. In the third round, he tripped Randleman to the mat and landed several strikes from the full mount, winning by referee stoppage. Couture had won the UFC belt for the second time.
In March 2001 he fought for the finals of the Rings King of Kings 2000 tournament. After dominating UFC veteran Tsuyoshi Kosaka in the first fight, he fought the semi finals against Valentijn Overeem, and was caught in a guillotine choke early in the fight. The tournament was eventually won by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Randy went back to the UFC after that.
His first title defense was against Brazilian Kickboxer Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31. This was also the first UFC under the Zuffa management, with Dana White as the new president. In one of the best and most brutal fights in MMA history, both fighters inflicted a lot of damage on each other. After 5 5-minute rounds, Randy was declared the winner by unanimous decision, which generated a lot of controversy as many fans felt Rizzo had won the fight. This prompted the UFC to set up an immediate rematch between the two, that took place at UFC 34, in November 2001. This time, Randy didn't have many problems, as he had adjusted to Rizzo's style and won a TKO stoppage in the 3rd round. His third title defense was in March 2002, against up-and-comer Josh Barnett. In the second round, Josh got on top of Randy and landed several strikes, winning by TKO. After the fight, it was revealed that Josh had tested positive for anabolic steroids; he was subsequently stripped of his title and left the UFC. Randy was then matched up against Ricco Rodriguez for the vacant UFC heavyweight belt at UFC 39, in late 2002. After dominating the first 3 rounds, the 39-year-old Randy began to show signs of fatigue. In the Fifth round Ricco took him down and landed an elbow strike to the eye that broke Randy's orbital bone, forcing him to submit.
Light heavyweight title and trilogy with Chuck Liddell
After his two consecutive losses in the heavyweight division to larger opponents, Couture moved down a weight class to fight at 205 lbs in the UFC's light heavyweight division. In his light heavyweight debut, Couture took on long-time number one contender Chuck Liddell for the interim light heavyweight championship. Couture was again the underdog, but after outstriking Chuck for 3 rounds, he took the fight to the ground, and won by TKO via strikes from the mount position. Couture became the only UFC competitor to win championship titles in two weight classes, a feat since matched in 2008 by B. J. Penn; this earned Couture his nickname "Captain America". His next match was billed as a "Champion vs. Champion" fight in order to settle who was the rightful, undisputed champion of the division. Couture faced the five-time defending champion Tito Ortiz for the undisputed light heavyweight title. Couture won a unanimous decision and became the undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion at age 40.
Couture's first title defense at Light Heavyweight was against Vitor Belfort, whom he had defeated in 1997. In the first round, as Couture closed the distance to attempt a clinch, Belfort threw a left hook that grazed on his right eye. A piece of Belfort's glove caused serious damage, and Vitor was declared the winner by medical stoppage. The rematch took place later that year, with Randy dominating all 3 rounds before winning by medical stoppage due to a cut. That made him a 2-time Light Heavyweight champion, as well as 2-time Heavyweight champion.
On April 16, 2005, Couture lost his title and suffered the first knockout loss of his career in a rematch with Chuck Liddell. Couture came back in August with a win over Mike Van Arsdale to re-establish himself as a top contender. He faced Liddell again for the third and final time in a championship match on February 4, 2006, at UFC 57. He did not succeed, falling to a second round knockout. Immediately after the match, he announced his retirement from the sport.
On June 24, 2006, during The Ultimate Fighter 3 finale, which was broadcast live on Spike TV, Couture became the fourth fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, joining Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, and Ken Shamrock.
After retiring from the professional fighting circuit, Couture began appearing at UFC events as a regular broadcast commentator and as co-host of "Before/After The Bell" on The Fight Network. He also appeared in the Rob Schneider comedy Big Stan, along with fellow mixed martial artists Don Frye and Bob Sapp.
On Nov. 17, 2006, Couture decided to compete athletically again, facing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in a submission wrestling match. The bout ended in a draw.
Couture was featured on season two of Spike TV's reality show "Pros vs. Joes", which premiered on January 25, 2007. His teammates on the episode were Michael Irvin, Kevin Willis, and José Canseco. He returned for the finale, where he even took part in a football based round. His teammates were Willis, Randall Cunningham, Bruce Smith, Roy Jones Jr., and Tim Hardaway. Couture also had a brief cameo appearance on the season finale of the CBS show The Unit as a military guard and on the film Redbelt as a fight commentator. Couture also appeared on an episode of The History Channel's "Human Weapon" on September 27, 2007, and starred in the 2008 film, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior.
Reclaiming the heavyweight title
On January 11, 2007, Couture appeared for an interview on the Spike TV magazine show, Inside the UFC, to announce his return from retirement. In a conversation with Joe Rogan, Couture confirmed that he would be facing Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 68 on March 3, 2007 and revealed that he had signed a four-fight, two-year deal with the company.
At the age of 43, Couture defeated then-champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 by unanimous decision to claim his third UFC heavyweight title. Couture's first punch, at :08 of the first round, sent the 6'8" (2.03m) Sylvia reeling to the mat. Couture controlled the pace of the fight for five rounds, smothering Sylvia with effective striking and numerous takedowns. All three judges' scored the bout 50-45 for Couture, making him the first fighter in UFC history to become a three-time champion.
On August 25, 2007, at UFC 74 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Couture defended his title against Gabriel Gonzaga, who previously defeated Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovi? at UFC 70 to become the number one contender. In the fight, Couture defeated Gonzaga by TKO (strikes) to retain the title. Couture suffered a broken left arm from blocking one of Gonzaga's kicks during the course of the fight. The kick cleanly separated the ulna bone. The injury placed the UFC heavyweight champion’s arm in a splint for six weeks. This would be the least of Couture's worries, as shortly after the fight he would be embroiled in a legal battle with the UFC.
Resignation and dispute with the UFC
On October 11, 2007, Couture announced that he was severing all ties with the UFC, leaving two contracted fights, a position as an on-air analyst, and his heavyweight championship behind. He reportedly received $250,000, plus $936,000 of PPV revenue, for his comeback against Tim Sylvia. He also reportedly received a $250,000 purse for defeating Gabriel Gonzaga, as well as a $35,000 bonus for "Fight of the Night" and $787,000 in PPV revenue. This became a sticking point since Chuck Liddell lost his two previous fights yet is still being paid more, according to Couture. Couture cited the UFC's failure to sign #1 ranked heavyweight fighter Fedor Emelianenko, as well as disputes with UFC management.
UFC president Dana White said Thursday Oct. 18, 2007 that Couture remains the promotion's heavyweight champion despite his announced plans to quit. White also reiterated he would not release Couture from the final two fights on his UFC contract. Couture held a press conference on October 25, 2007 in which he denied his leaving of the UFC was a "retirement," set forth his grievances over the pay he received for his fights against Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga, and reiterated his belief that he would be free from any contractual obligations to the UFC after nine months. On October 30, 2007, White and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta held another press conference. There White reiterated the UFC's position that Couture remains the promotion's heavyweight champion despite his tendered resignation, and that Couture would remain obligated under his UFC contract well beyond nine months. White also released documents at the press conference to refute Couture's claims about the pay he received. Sherdog.com analyzed language reportedly found in the UFC's standard contracts relating to fighter retirement which Sherdog believes clarifies the dispute over Couture's contractual status.
In another chapter to the Couture/UFC saga, White and Randy Couture met and had a "good" conversation at UFC 78. However, White also met with Couture during the Thanksgiving holiday to discuss a possible return to the Octagon, where Couture said he had no desire to return to the UFC at that time.
Cornering some of his fighters from Xtreme Couture at HDNet Fights on December 15, 2007, in Dallas, Texas, Couture answered questions about Fedor, stating that he would like to fight him in October once his employment contract with the UFC has expired, if the UFC cannot come to some kind of co-promotion agreement with M-1 Global before that time.
On Jan. 15, 2008, Zuffa (the UFC's parent company) filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court in Nevada citing breach of contract and irreparable damage. Zuffa is seeking over $10,000 in damages. This suit concerns only Couture's employment contract and not his promotional contract. On February 28, 2008 Judge Jennifer Togliatti handed down the first ruling in the case of Zuffa v. Randy Couture issuing a preliminary injunction barring Couture's participation in an IFL event to be held the following day.
On August 2, 2008 a Texas appeals court granted Zuffa LLC's request for a stay against a motion for a declaratory judgment in a suit filed by HDNet regarding Randy Couture's contractual status with the UFC. The stay effectively ends the dispute in the state of Texas and Zuffa will be allowed to move forward with the Nevada suit.
Return to the UFC
On September 2, 2008 the UFC announced a 3 fight deal with the then 45 year old Randy Couture to return to active competition for the UFC. His first fight back was at UFC 91 on November 15, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada where he lost his UFC Heavyweight Championship to Brock Lesnar. It was at first a closely contested match, however, later in the fight Lesnar knocked Couture down and finished him with hammer fists for a TKO victory at 3:07 of the second round. In the post fight interview with Joe Rogan, Couture declared his desire to keep fighting. He stated that he felt like he was still becoming a better fighter and blamed his loss on a bad performance, not his age. Couture has said he still wants to fight former PRIDE FC Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko, but has since been unable to, due to UFC contract issues. Couture has said he'd also drop weight to fight UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida if that's what the UFC wants.
Couture vs. Nogueira
On February 26, 2009, it was reported that Couture has agreed to a bout with former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion and former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102 in Portland, OR. In that fight, on August 29, 2009, Couture lost a very competitive bout via unanimous decision. After the bout, Couture stated he felt like he was in the best shape of his life, and that he will wait and see what the UFC has in store for him in the future. The fight received the 'Fight of the Night' award, with both men receiving the bonus.
Return to light heavyweight
After the Nogueira match, Dana White announced Couture had signed a new 28 month/ 6 fight deal, prior to fighting Nogueira. (In other words, the loss to Nogueira was the first fight under his new contract, which replaced his old contract.)
On November 14, 2009, Couture defeated Brandon Vera on a very controversial decision in his first fight at Light Heavyweight, since his loss to Chuck Liddell in 2006, in a unanimous decision on November 14, 2009 in the main event at UFC 105. At age 46, Couture became the oldest fighter to ever win a fight in the UFC.
Couture vs. Coleman and future
Couture fought fellow Hall of Famer Mark Coleman at UFC 109. The bout marked the first time that UFC hall of famers fought against each other in the Octagon. The pair were scheduled to meet at UFC 17 in 1998, but a Couture injury forced the cancellation of the bout. The legendary pair wrestled one another in a freestyle match at the 1989 Olympic Festival at Oklahoma State where Coleman won the match by one point. Couture modified his training for this bout focusing on catch wrestling and refining his boxing under coach Gil Martinez. This fight marked the oldest combined age of fighters to go head to head in the UFC. The fight took place at UFC 109: Relentless. Couture defeated Coleman via submission (rear naked choke) in the second round, which marked the first time in over 4 years that Couture had won via submission.
A bout between Couture and Rich Franklin was rumored to take place at UFC 115. However, Couture's attorney revealed that a bout between the two is more likely to take place in August. However, in March, Franklin was announced as Chuck Liddell's opponent for another event, after Tito Ortiz had to pull out of their scheduled bout. UFC president Dana White has since denied this match is to be made. Couture expressed a desire to face Heavyweight Boxer James Toney in his first MMA match, via Twitter
Couture was previously married to Sharon and Tricia, and was recently married to Kim Couture (née Holderman,). He has three children, sons Ryan and Caden and daughter Aimee, in addition to a stepson. Kim & Randy have filed for divorce.
HT: Congratulations on your great victory against Tito Ortiz!
RC: Thanks a lot.
HT: You must just be having the time of your life right now.
RC: I am. Coming off the two biggest fights of my career so far. I’ve been fighting for 6 years. I’ve been the heavyweight champion twice. So yeah, it’s going very, very well right now.
HT: Were there any doubts that you’d ever get a fight of this magnitude again?
RC: Well, I guess that depends on who you talk to. I wasn’t surprised by the success. I wasn’t surprised by the opportunity. I think I’ve been a pretty consistent performer even in the 2 fights that I lost in the heavyweight division. They were really good fights. And I was winning for all intents and purposes until the fight basically turned. So I’ve been pretty comfortable and confident in my ability to fight.
HT: Was it your decision to come down from the heavyweights?
RC: Well, I told them that I’m kind of stuck between weight classes. I’m not a big heavyweight. I walk around or I did walk around at about 220, 226lbs. So which is not big certainly with the trend in heavyweights now. So I said, I can fight at light heavyweight as well if there was an opportunity to fight there. And they’d set me up to fight in heavyweight again, which was fine. I was due to fight in the April show against Andre Orlaski. And then Andre broke his hand and as it turned out, the night I was supposed to fight was the night my son was born. So I would’ve missed that. So for personal and professional reasons, it was better. They came back and said, Well, Tito won’t fight Chuck. We want to create an interim title. Will you come down from heavyweight and fight Chuck at the light heavyweight? And I was like, Sure, that sounds great. And I came down. That happened in June and it went very well for me as the 3 to 1 underdog obviously. And it’s kind of been rolling since then.
HT: Do you think Tito’s main reason for not wanting to fight Chuck was money?
RC: Well, it’s really hard to say. I know, he said, We’re friends. I want more money if I have to fight Chuck. So he renegotiated his contract. He said he’d come back and fight me after I beat Chuck. And then said before that fight, win, lose or draw, Chuck’s next. And now I’m fighting in January because he pulled out and won’t fight Chuck. They were trying to set him and Chuck up for the January card.
HT: So Tito and Chuck are not fighting in January?
RC: Yeah, as far as I know it’s not happening. Tito just pulled out of the negotiations for that fight.
HT: It’s not like he’s going to Pride and fighting all the great guys there either.
RC: If there’s no contract with the UFC, he’s not going anywhere. They pretty much have him tied up.
HT: For a while?
RC: Probably. I would assume like everybody else. He’s at least signed a 12-month contract. And maybe his is longer. I don’t know.
HT: So if you’re under contract, you can’t go back and forth between UFC and Pride?
RC: No, it’s only a couple special situations that that’s occurred. Carlos Newton was kind of farmed out to the UFC and ended up winning the middleweight title for a little while. And then he was farmed out for Pride. And then we sent Chuck Liddell over and he fought Guy Metzger. And now he’s fighting in the Pride Grand Prix representing UFC. So it’s only been a couple of instances. Certainly that’s something that I would like to see happen is unify the two belts. I’d like to fight Wanderlei Silva, the Pride light heavyweight champion right now. And put the UFC belt on the line and try to unify those 2 belts.
HT: What you did that night- that performance and the magic of that night will forever be remembered in Mixed Martial Arts history. It was certainly the biggest fight in UFC history. Has it really sunk in yet?
RC: Yeah, I think I realize that on some level. I don’t too get caught up in that because that’s not what it’s all about for me. For me-
HT: So, it’s passed and you’re already looking forward?
RC: Yeah. I mean, my soul purpose in that whole night was to go out and compete well against Tito and that’s really all I focused on. All the rest of that extraneous stuff had nothing to do with me, at least on a personal level. I was certainly a part of it, obviously. It’s a nice accomplishment. And I appreciate all the things that people are saying, Legend and all those things that they’re talking about, but that’s not really why I compete in the sport. But I don’t really get caught up in that.
HT: Of course there’s that whole legend thing because of your tremendous long career, but you’re on top of the hill now! And the light heavyweight is the most glamorous division.
RC: Yeah, it seems to be the most glamorous.
HT: Pride have their franchise fighters in Silva, Fedor, Yoshida or whoever. But don’t you feel that you’re the most important piece of the UFC franchise?
RC: Yeah, it doesn’t serve me well to think about it. It kind of takes care of itself. It has a life of its own. I didn’t really set out to be a big celebrity. All that’s kind of been a side life from what I set out to do which was to be the best fighter, win the championship, and to compete well.
HT: So all the attention you’re getting isn’t putting any pressure on you either?
RC: There really is no pressure on me because that stuff isn’t first and foremost in my mind.
HT: I really admire the way you handled the whole situation before coming into the Tito fight. Tito brought a lot of excitement to the UFC. The way he hypes up everything and his attitude. But I’d imagine he’s probably a pretty nice guy behind the scenes?
RC: Yeah, I’ve dealt with him personally. I’ve been in a training situation with him a couple times in the past, in the far past. And he’s always been very respectful and very nice guy. All that is part of his persona, part of the thing that he brings to the UFC and to fighting creates a lot of attention. People want to see him compete because of that.
HT: Did Tito’s constant trash talking ever get to you?
RC: I don’t take a lot of it to heart. I mean, it’s not like he offended me with any of it. I expected it. I knew that was the way he was going to come out. I think he tries to intimidate his opponents and get in their heads that way. I think it backfired on him. I don’t think he expected me to come back with anything or to really say anything back to him or have an answer for that sort of thing because it’s generally not my style.
RC: And so I think because I did give it back to him a little bit in some instances that messed with his head a little bit. And I think he knew I wasn’t intimidated so it kind of worked in my favor to play the game a little bit.
HT: Have you come across a lot of trash talkers in your distinguished career?
RC: Yeah, there are always those kinds of guys. Generally they just make me smile. I think it’s pretty comical.
HT: But nowadays it ends up airing everywhere.
RC: International exposure. But I don’t really think in those terms. It’s still the same to me. I still have to go out there on Friday night and compete regardless. You can say and do all that crap all you want, but when it gets down to it you still got to step in the cage and you still got to fight Friday night. And that’s all that really matter.
HT: Trash talking in general is un-sportsmanlike as far as you’re concerned?
RC: Yeah, I think it’s disrespectful. In my opinion it takes away from what’s really important, which is the competition, the technique and all the things that go into the fight. And I’m excited about that. That’s what I want to see. And that’s what gets me fired up. I don’t need all that trash talking and all the hype and all the other stuff to get fired up about this sport, to be excited to watch this sport. But I’m not the average fan either.
HT: So you understand its place in a fight sport like UFC too?
RC: Certainly I understand. The necessary evil if you want to call it that.
HT: So is sportsmanship for you very important?
RC: Yeah, it always has been. I was raised that way. I think my mother instilled that in me at a very early age. You know, work ethic and sportsmanship and I think a lot of that came from wrestling. I started wrestling when I was 10 years old. About the time you think you’re the guy and you start talking, somebody hands you your butt so.
HT: Some experts that I know said that your light heavyweight victories were even more impressive because you had to come down in weight to a tougher faster division.
RC: It wasn’t that difficult.
HT:I would have thought that it would be harder for a fighter to move up?
RC: I think it’s just as much as effort. And I was putting in just as much effort to maintain my size and try and compete with the bigger guys as it was to modify my diet and do the extra running and kind of cut the weight and move down.
HT: But it certainly would have been disadvantageous for Tito to have taken you on in the heavyweight division?
RC: Yeah, I think it would have been more of a disadvantage.
HT: For instance, every time Oscar De La Hoya went up there were fewer knockouts.
RC: Certainly psychologically-
HT: But if Roy Jones or Bernard Hopkins went down, I still think they’d be in the driver’s seat?
RC: Some ways, physically it’s different dealing with those bigger guys. Yeah, it was easier for me to move down and deal with guys who were more my size than it was to keep trying to push with the bigger guys that were 250 260 pounds. You know, giving up 20 30 pounds to guys that really know how to fight is a big difference.
HT: What did you do to come down in weight and still be so effective?
RC: I changed my diet a little bit. Modified some of the things I was eating. Tried to increase the amount of greens. Whole foods instead of all the cooked stuff. I had already kind of eliminated dairy a while ago. And I always tried to eat good anyway even when I was fighting in the heavyweight division so it wasn’t that big of an adjustment. And then just changed the running. I’d run a little more distance instead of so much anaerobic stuff, the sprinting and stuff. I did a little more distance stuff and the weight came off very easy. I was surprised how easy it came off. I dropped right down to 215 in about a month. And that’s kind of where I wanted to be. I figured if I was around 215, I was within 10 pounds of the weight class. I lose 7 or 8 pounds of water weight in a good workout, in a good hour and a half workout. And so that’s certainly within reason as far as like dehydrating and then re-hydrating my body on a day before weigh-in situations.
HT: But you haven’t done it to that extent in a while though, have you?
RC: Haven’t done it since 1996. Was the last time I done that sort of thing in wrestling. And that was the last time the weight class for international competition for me was 198. So I used to cut down to 198.
HT: Don’t wrestlers always have to be very strict with their diet?
HT: But I’d imagine you get used to the adjustment?
RC: It’s a science. You have it down to, I mean I know exactly how long it would take you to lose so many pounds in a sweat workout. It took me 10 minutes to break a sweat. And then every 10 minutes after that, I lost about a pound.
HT: Without losing strength?
RC: No. I wore the same clothes, the same hat, the same gloves. I knew by how wet my sweats were up my leg how much I lost. It took a lot of- I done it so many times I knew exactly where I was at.
HT: You’re 40 years old now?
RC: 40. Yeah, I turned 40 this summer. June 22nd.
HT: And you’re born in Oregon?
RC: Born in Washington. I grew up in Seattle and I’ve lived in Oregon for 10 years. Almost 11.
HT: Tell me about your upbringing?
RC: Well, my mom was a single mom. My dad left when I was- before kindergarten. My parents were divorced. I had 2 younger sisters.
HT: Have you kept in touch with your dad?
RC: I actually saw him once a year, twice a year growing up as a kid. And for a long stretch there, when I was traveling and left for the service and stuff, I didn’t see him at all. And recently he’s retired and moved back from Alaska. He lived in Alaska. And now lives an hour from here up in Washington. So I’ve seen him more this summer than I’ve seen him probably my whole life. So that’s been kind of interesting because he’s more or less a stranger to me for all intents and purposes. My mom was just a very strong person. She kept us in a lot of activities, a lot of sports, from bowling and roller-skating to- I even played tennis as a kid. Just to keep up doing something. And she was working 2 jobs. And I learned to iron my own clothes and do my own wash and cooking and do things that probably average kids didn’t learn to do. Because we had that responsibility as a family to kind of make things work. And I think I’m a better person for it.
HT: So you were like the man of the house.
RC: Basically, I was the oldest.
HT: So that’s where the responsibility and respect part of your personality came from?
RC: I think so.
HT: Did wrestling become your main sport as soon as you started?
RC: Well, I entered my first tournament just on a whim. My best friend’s older brothers wrestled. They drug us to the District meet. They were in junior high and we were in grade school. I was in the 5th grade. And they put us in the novice tournament for kicks, I think, to watch us wrestle. Never wrestled, been on a mat in my life. And got my first bloody nose, threw my first headlock. And entered that same tournament again in the 6th grade and then, of course, when I enrolled in junior high in the 7th grade, the junior high coach had seen us in the novice tournament. He said you guys are coming out for wrestling and I’ve wrestled ever since.
HT: Were you pretty much outstanding at every level?
RC: Up and down. I think by the time I graduated or left junior high in the 9th grade because it was a 3 year high school system, I think I lost 1 match. I won the District meet, which was the biggest meet for junior high school.
HT: Did people around you always talk about a future in the Olympics for you?
RC: I never heard that. It was always a personal thing for me. It was always hard work that-
HT: Believing in yourself?
RC: Yeah, I never heard those comparisons or heard that I had that kind of talent. It was like we were pretty isolated, I think in the wrestling world, at least my friends and my coach. And he didn’t have international experience. He didn’t know and I had never wrestled freestyle or Greco when I graduated from high school. I didn’t start doing that till I joined the service. So it wasn’t until then that I was opened up to this whole new world of wrestling. I had just wrestled in school. By the time I graduated high school, I’d won the state championship my senior year, but I was maybe 500 my junior year, only won half my matches.
HT: Oh yeah?
RC: Maybe won 5 matches my sophomore year.
HT: So you went into the military?
RC: Yeah, right out of school. I went to Washington State for a semester and then joined the military after that semester.
RC: Yeah. And wrestled for the Army. Got married basically.
HT: Did some boxing, too, right?
RC: Very little. In training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, I was training as an Air Traffic Controller and they had a 3-way boxing smoker between the Mechanics, and the Pilots and the Air Traffic Controllers. And so to get out of physical training, you know, running and formation and all that crap. I said, yeah, I’ll box! So we did 3 weeks of training for this boxing smoker with a coach and all that every day. That was our physical fitness. And I didn’t have to do PT so that was the extent of my boxing training.
HT: Are you considered a pretty good striker?
RC: I’ve added that to my fighting style. I’ve competed against some of the best strikers that are in MMA. So I’ve had to add that to my fighting style because in my way of thinking, I couldn’t just rely on my ability to wrestle and take them down. What if that didn’t work? What if I couldn’t take them down or I had trouble? Now I’m stuck surviving in their world, in that striking world. I’d better be able to defend myself and at least survive there if I’m going to be effective. So I’ve worked very hard at trying to add that skill to my fighting repertoire.
HT: How many times did you tryout for the Olympics?
RC: 4 times.
RC: Yeah. 1988 was my first Olympics trials. I was an alternate on that team at 180 lbs. Give you an idea of how much weight I used to cut when I was younger. And then in ’92, I was the number 1 guy in the U.S. and ended up losing in the final trial. And was an alternate again. And again in ’96!
HT: Did you get to attend the Games?
RC: Well, they- a lot of times they’ll take the alternates, but you don’t process at all. Wrestling is just 1 guy per weight class.
RC: Once the tournament starts-
HT: So did you get some experience in the Olympics?
RC: Yeah. I mean, I got to see it. I got to- I didn’t get to march or do any of those things. I got to watch it as a spectator and just be close to it.
HT: But did you get to wear the U.S. sweats and stay at the village?
RC: No, we didn’t even get the warm-ups?
HT: Oh wow!
RC: In wrestling you don’t. In some sports, the alternates get to process, too, because they can make substitutions, but in wrestling you don’t get that opportunity. Finally I retired from Olympic wrestling in 2000.
HT: Olympics is a 1-shot deal every four years so it must be harsh?
RC: All the Olympic sports are that way. There’s a lot riding on that one tournament. That trials. And then the Nationals for that year kind of sets the seeds for that trials, but in any of the non-Olympic years, there’s a world championship, which is basically just like the Olympics. It just doesn’t have all the ceremonies and prestige attached to it necessarily. At least from the public’s standpoint that the Olympics have. And I was on 4 of those world teams in the non-Olympic years. Just never put it together in the Olympic years and made the team.
HT: Did you win any medals?
RC: The best I did was 9th. In 1997, I was 9th in the world. I’d beaten world champions. I’d beaten gold medalist and silver medalists in different competitions.
HT: Was Kurt Angel wrestling at that time?
RC: He wrestled while I was at Oklahoma State. And I watched him win his world title and Olympic title in ’95 and ’96. He was on the freestyle team. I was on the Greco team.
HT: Were there a lot of tears shed when you didn’t make the teams?
RC: Certainly! Yeah, very upset. You know, spent so much time. Made so many sacrifices to achieve that goal. That was the one thing I had been chasing for a very long time. So yeah, I was very upset and almost to the point in 2000 where I was fed up with it. I chased it so hard for so long and still for whatever reason, I managed to come up short. I just didn’t get there. I’d been the Outstanding Wrestler in the U.S. on 2 different occasions, won 4 national titles, been the number 1 guy several times, but in that Olympic year for some year, I just didn’t put it together.
HT: How did MMA come into your life?
RC: I was coaching at Oregon State. It’s one of the few jobs where you can be involved in wrestling and get paid and make a decent, a fair living and still have the environment that you need to train and compete at the Olympic level. So I was holding down the assistant coaching job at Oregon State and a couple of my athletes brought a tape in. They plugged it in and it happened to be UFC-9. I think it was. And Don Frye was competing on that card. And his senior year at Oklahoma State was my freshman year at Oklahoma State. We were both married in college so we spent some time together. He was a heavyweight. I was 190 pounder. We actually ended up wrestling off at the end of the season. So he was someone that I considered to be a friend and I saw him competing in this competition I’d never seen before. So I was intrigued by it. Thought it was interesting. And I was like, wow I want to try that! So I happen to know a guy that run a production company. You had the application process that you had to go through at that time. Sent him an application with a tape of me wrestling. They were kind of off putting wrestling. We had enough wrestlers. You know, Coleman and Frye were competing pretty heavily at that time. And as it turned out in May of ’97 a guy broke his hand before the heavyweight tournament. Like 2 weeks out, and they needed to fill that spot. And on 2 weeks notice nobody would take the spot in a heavyweight tournament and they called me. I was on their list. And I said, Yeah, I’ll do it. I hadn’t done any fight training, but I was in great wrestling shape. So I ended up fighting 2 weeks later in the heavyweight tournament in UFC-13 on May ’97.
HT: How did you do over all?
RC: I won the tournament.
HT: So you just went with what you knew?
RC: Yeah, wrestling.
HT: By ’97 some guys were really beginning to look solid in several areas.
RC: There was kind of the whole cross training thing was just starting.
HT: Because early on they were trying to put in karate guys, wrestlers, judo guys, and sumo guys even.
RC: Well, that was the whole thing. They were trying to prove that their style was best. This is the best style. This is the best martial arts. So that’s when the whole cross training started. You started seeing more and more well-rounded fighters starting to roll out. They weren’t just a Jiu Jitsu, or a wrestler like I was. I didn’t have the luxury of doing any cross training till after that fight. Well, actually 2 fights. And as soon as that was over and it went well, I started cross training immediately. My next fight was Vitor Belfort who hadn’t gone 2 minutes with any of his opponents-
HT: Again, that’s amazing that you beat someone like Vitor back then, in your second or third fight?
RC: That was my third fight and my second show.
HT: Back then, Vitor Belfort was going to be the Golden Boy of MMA.
HT: Everyone thought he was going to rule UFC for years to come. He was going to be the Roy Jones of UFC and carry the sport to the next millennium! But you certainly put a stop to that.
RC: Yeah, I don’t think anybody expected that. Again, I was a pretty big underdog. They expected that he was just going to punch me out like he had everybody else.
HT: But in your next bout with Vitor, I’m sure you won’t underestimate because he’s still got some dangerous qualities.
RC: No, he’s matured a bunch. He’s always been a dangerous fighter. Just kind of- in my mind it seems like psychologically, it depends on which Vitor shows up a lot of times is to how dangerous he is. But he’s always been a devastating fighter.
HT: You’re very fortunate that Mixed Martial Arts came around at that time. If your timing was off you might have just retired?
RC: Yeah. I would have been retired.
HT: You would have been a coach.
RC: More than likely.
HT: Just when your heart and spirit was broken from wrestling you were able to embark on a legendary career on another sport all together!
RC: Yeah. There’s no way I would have made it another 4 years to try and make another Olympic team. And fortunately for me I’d been involved in this enough and had some success where I could just retire from wrestling and jump right into this full time. And not only have that competitive outlet that I spent my whole life competing so it would have to go cold turkey on wrestling. But financially I’ve been able to make a lot more money than I’ve ever made in wrestling or coaching or anything else. Support my family and start this gym at Team Quest and do all these things that have just kind of taken on a life of its own.
HT: We talked a little bit about how you stood with good standup fighters like Chuck Liddell,………..
RC: Pedro Rizzo, Maurice Smith, Vito Belfort
HT: Pedro Rizzo is good! He has an awesome low-kick.
RC: Yeah. He kicked the snot out of my leg the first time we boxed. He won fights by heavy kicks.
HT: Generally, do you try to bring opponents to the ground as much as possible? You certainly dominated Tito.
RC: It’s still my background. It’s still my area of strength to get a guy on the ground, get on top of him, and dominate the fight. I’ve learned and adapted enough that I can do as much as I need to do on my feet to make the ground attack or to takedown-
HT: But it’s not smart to insist on it, to prove a point like some fighters try to do, right?
HT: Because I’m thinking about Yoshida. I mean, why would he try to stand-up against Tamura? He took so many kicks to his front leg that he could barely walk anymore!
HT: When you’re a world-class judo master like Yoshida, it’s ridiculous to waste time standing with a Tamura. The guy’s deadly on the ground with the gi. If you were his coach, you wouldn’t have given him that fight plan, right?
RC: No. Then again it’s doesn’t matter who he fights. That’s really not going to be his area of strength. He needs to try and eliminate his areas of strength to your opponent and to force him to fight in your area of strength. And so many times, I think he can get an opponent on the ground – that’s where he’s going to be strongest and have the best chance to win the fight. And egos shouldn’t play a role in it. But I think Josh Barnett is a perfect example. Everybody said, don’t try and stand with Pedro Rizzo. Don’t try and stand up with Pedro Rizzo! You’re a great grappler. You’ve got great submission skills. He’s terrible on the ground. You should take him down and submit him. But he let his ego get away from him and he tried to stand up with him. And Pedro knocked him out. And that’s another example of the same thing.
HT: So do you try to take it to the ground to finish the fight?
RC: I finish it any way I can.
HT: Oh yeah?
RC: So wherever the opportunity provides, I would like to finish the fight. If I’m fortunate enough to land a knockout blow, then good. But that’s not what I’m hunting for. And I think anytime you are hunting for it, it becomes that much more difficult. So yeah, I think I’ve been most devastating putting guys on the ground and TKO-ing from the top position.
HT: Going back to the Tito fight, some fighters lose strength when they go down in weight, but you didn’t because you’ve been doing it your whole life, right?
RC: My whole career, yeah.
HT: But your whole strategy, or your game plan that night was executed almost perfectly- wouldn’t you say?
RC: Yeah, I think my last 2 fights strategically have been remarkable. I wish all my fights went that well.
HT: Which is why people are putting the word legend whenever they mention your name now because of the way you handled those 2 fights.
RC: And I think I didn’t hide it. I didn’t make any bones about it. I said it was going to come down to takedowns. If Tito could get a good takedown and establish good top position and hold me down, it was going to be a long night for me. And he’s been very effective from that position. And that has been my area of strength, too. And I didn’t care about how much training I did between my last fight and this fight. That really wasn’t going to change. And I knew it wasn’t going to change for him either as much as he wanted to say he’d been working with Vargas or whoever to work on his punching and he wanted to knock me out because nobody else had. I knew damn well he was going to go out and try to take me down. And which is exactly what he did. So I worked a lot on countering and keeping the fight in the standing position when guys were trying to take me down and then establishing my own takedowns and my own opportunities to put the fight- to put my opponent on the bottom. I worked a lot on scrambling up from the bottom in case I did get taken down. Like Chuck in his fight and he’s really hard to hold down. So l learned some things from him.
HT: Chuck’s strong too, isn’t he?
RC: He’s just- yeah, he’s very, very good. And even though that fight only went 3 rounds, I think, as I analyze the 2 fighters, I think that Tito would have a bad night against Chuck. Because for the simple reason that he couldn’t take him down and establish his best position and then he’d be forced to stand up with Chuck. Chuck is a great standup fighter. He has all the knockouts that he has for a reason.
HT: My friend Bas Rutten was so impressed with your incredible condition this year. And the odds stacked against you in the two fights. But I read somewhere that you learned to not over-train also?
RC: I don’t really separate my wrestling experiences that much from my fighting experiences. Similar competition. I approach them mentally and physically very much the same way. And it’s kind of been an ongoing process for me as I analyzed my successes and failures throughout my competitive career. What it was when I was successful I felt so good and when I came out short and didn’t make the Olympic team or whatever – well, why was that? And I think the one thing that kept coming up as I talked to coaches and friends and people that were close to me is that I had this propensity for overtraining; this propensity for working way too hard and not giving myself enough rest and recovery time. And it’s probably taken me til I’m 40 years old to finally get the equation right. And I went from a 6 or 7 day taper where the week of the fight I wasn’t doing any lifting or hard running, but I was still in there doing hard 5-minute rounds, you know, right up until fight night, which was too much. So I wasn’t allowing my body to recover and be ready to compete for fight night. And so for these last 2 fights, I know, with the guys here at Team Quest- like I said, this started a long time ago. But I finally came up with a formula basically for resting, for mentally being able to pull back, say enough is enough, and to listen to my body and allow myself to recover completely. So that when fight night came around, I was completely ready to go. Everything was recharged. All my muscles were ready to go ahead. Mentally I was prepared. I was hungry. I wanted to fight. And I think that has been the biggest thing in my whole performance in my last 2 fights. I took 10 days out and really tapered and really rested. Everything was very short. Everything was very tactical. Nothing hard at all that week. But still doing enough to stay sharp and keep myself moving and I felt awesome. Both fights my conditioning was great. I knew I had worked hard enough. I had confidence. I could go out there and relax, smile, enjoy the moment. Mentally when I’m like that, I know I’m going to compete well. When I can smile and enjoy it, I know things are going to go well for me. And so, I think above all, that tapering- kind of finally figuring out that formula was the biggest thing. And the work stuff really hadn’t really changed at all that much. Strategically it changes from fight to fight what you think is going to be effective and what you have to watch out for from one opponent to the next and so you gear your training to fit those things you concentrate- Like this fight, I concentrated a lot more on being on the bottom, being able to scramble and get back up from underneath guys, and countering takedowns. And still being effective in progressing as a standup fighter, you know, if I needed to stand up and be effective there with Tito, I felt like that was an area I could hang with him and punch with him if I needed, too. But only long enough to be able to get in and close the distance and get my hands on him or take him down.
HT: Could you be as confident moving back up?
RC: If I have to go back up to heavyweight right now?
RC: I’m pretty comfortable here. I don’t really see a need to go back up and fight the bigger guys unless the situation was right. If it was a great contract and a great reason to do it, then I would seriously consider doing that. Fighting a bigger guy is going to pose different problems and I’m going to have train accordingly to be prepared, but I still need that taper period. I think that’s still part of the formula from here on out.
HT: You don’t seem to mind talking about your fight plan to the media before your fights.
RC: It’s not that big a secret. It’s not like I’m going to tell you exactly what my plan is or what I’m doing, but everybody knows- I mean, everybody is speculating anyhow. They know what kind of fighter I am. They know what kind of fighter Tito is. It shouldn’t come as no surprise, but that’s what it was going to come down to. And he said, oh, it’s not a wrestling match and all that, but when it got right down to it he got out-wrestled.
HT: Would you give yourself a 100 percent in the Tito fight?
RC: Well, certainly it was- I think there’s always room for improvement. You can always do better. I don’t know if I can be in better shape. I don’t know if I can be more prepared to fight, but certainly I had some submission opportunities. I had an opportunity in the 4th round to finish the fight from a mount. If I look at it, I 100% executed my game plan for as long as I needed to execute that game plan to win the fight. So in that regard, it was a 100% performance, for sure. Could I have finished it earlier or taken advantage of some situations earlier that may have ended it sooner? Yeah, I think so. So in that regard, yeah, I can improve.
HT: But in a way, it was like a long torture for him because you just completely dominated.
RC: I think the way it went down nobody could say it was a fluke. It was just a grind.
RC: Just grinded him out and so in that way it was a very dominant performance. He didn’t get caught. It was no sucker punch or anything like that. He just got outdone.
HT: Right. Because knowing you, I know that if there’s a rematch, you’d still be prepared for all the possibilities, and he might even be better prepared, but that fight will still have a huge mental effect on him.
RC: Yeah, I would think psychologically that’s going to bother him forever. I think it would bother any fighter.
HT: Everyone thought he was basically bullet proof until that night.
HT: But could Tito have done anything differently early on to have had a chance?
RC: It’s always a battle of wills. I mean, who’s going to have their way. Who’s going to really establish. And that can fluctuate from round to round and even within a round.
RC: I think if he’d have had an answer for being on the bottom, he could have been more effective. Not just from fighting on the bottom because I think most of us are cross trained enough that we’re really not going to make a lot of mistakes and get caught on top, you know, unless you really get over extended or a guy’s just that good and catches you in that moment where you’re out of position. It’s really hard to secure a submission from your back now. Everybody’s been there. They’ve been training there for quite some time now. They understand that game pretty well. So I don’t think he could have done anything from there. I think what he needed to concentrate on was getting back up. If he’d have been able to scramble like Chuck had and get back to his feet that would have made the fight a lot more interesting. It would have made it a lot more difficult on me. I would have had to keep finding ways to put him back down there and score.
HT: Do you think he underestimated you?
RC: Or I would have had to standup with him, which still might have been okay for me. As I analyzed him, I felt like there was still an area where I could dominate and control. I think because he had such a dominating performance against Vladimir Matyushenko who’s another world-class wrestler. Although he was a freestyler. He failed to consider that Vladimir took that fight on short notice. He was supposed to fight Belfort and they slid Vladimir in there and when Belfort got hurt, so Vladimir wasn’t really prepared. He’d been working on his hands and he wanted to knock Tito out. Which again, I think when you’re that head hunting, when you’re looking for that specific knockout, it makes it that much more difficult to get and you’re vulnerable for a lot of other things. And so, although he dominated Vladimir most assuredly, I think that gave him a false sense of security going against another wrestler like myself. He thought he could handle the wrestling part of it because he dominated Vladimir. I don’t think he took some things into account.
HT: Do you think you guys have an unusual pain threshold? Because most people see it as a very bloody sport.
RC: I don’t know about bloody. I think it’s a pretty rough contact sport. Guys get cut. I haven’t seen any real- I think I’ve sustained the most serious injury that I’ve seen in the sport with the blowout fracture in the eye. And that wasn’t really a blood issue. It was a bad injury.
HT: Isn’t it a little bit rougher than Pride, because of the rules?
RC: I don’t think so. I mean it’s a small difference in that you’re allowed to throw a forearm and they’re not, but they can stand up and soccer kick a guy in the head when he’s lying on his back. So I think those kicks are a lot more devastating.
HT: What about those knees to the head?
RC: The knees in Pride, too. You’re allowed to knee a guy in the head when he’s down which those are a lot more powerful, a lot more damaging. But I think, all in all, they’re equivalent. The sports are the same. Minor rule changes here and there don’t change it that much. Yeah, it’s a contact sport, for sure, but yeah, I don’t think it’s that bad. I don’t think it’s an amazing pain threshold necessarily. I think if you train for the sport on a regular basis, your body kind of gets used to that sort of thing anyway.
HT: Submitting is a matter of safety and being sensible?
RC: You’re being smart, yeah.
HT: Because it’s not worth suffering a broken arm.
RC: No, and that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to damage a joint if you made that mistake. You got caught in that situation. You give you. You tap.
HT: Are you worried about wear and tear at all?
RC: I’ve been remarkably fortunate. I’ve held up very well aside from the eye injury. I’ve had no serious injuries from fighting or wrestling. I’ve seen more serious injuries in wrestling than I’ve seen in fighting. You know, dislocations and necks and all that sorts of thing. I saw that a lot in wrestling. And I’ve seen very little other than bloody noses and minor cuts in fighting. You know, black eyes that sort of thing. I haven’t seen too many serious injuries at all. So I’m not worried. I think when I start worrying about wear and tear, I need to start thinking about retiring. If I can’t go out there and train and compete at a hundred percent at the level that I think I need to, then I think it’s time to start thinking about hanging it up. So far I’ve been blessed. I’ve been very fortunate.
HT: How long have you had Team Quest? It was established here, right in Oregon?
RC: It was established here in Gresham, Oregon. It’s been open as a fighting club and as a gym for about 2 years.
HT: Because you guys are all top class wrestlers. You, Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson.
RC: Yeah, we got a real good group of guys. Very good fighters from the top level all the way down to our amateurs are doing very well, too. We’re lucky. We’ve attracted similar-minded guys- the same kind of guys. Matt’s won a silver medal, and Dan’s a 2-time Olympian in Greco Roman.
HT: Oh, really.
RC: He was on the ’92 and the ’96 team.
HT: It seems like you guys lead by example too, the way the sport should be respected and represented.
RC: Yeah, that’s just our opinion, our feeling about how it should be done. And we seem to attract those kinds of people that are in line with that way of thinking and want to work that way. And enjoy it the way we do.
HT: Do people come from all over to work with Team Quest?
RC: Yeah, definitely. We’ve had guys come from around the world. Australia. Japan. England. We’ve had several different people come in for long stays just to train. And it’s been great.
HT: Do you think being a part of a team is more advantageous in this sport?
RC: I think so. Because I think you’re only as strong as your workout partners.
HT: When you’re a part of a real strong group like yourselves and you go to every event together and your guys are in the corner I’m sure it makes a difference.
RC: We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, what you’re capable of, where you’re at for that particular fight. That’s definitely an advantage. I like it. It’s like family. I mean not too many people get to see the behind-the-scenes. When you’re training daily with somebody, they get to know you very well inside and out. And that can be a real advantage when it’s really down and you need to pull something out. You got to do something.
HT: Because the success of the Brazilian Top Team and even the Russian Top Team are proof of that.
RC: Yeah. Great guys.
HT: And Pat Militich.
RC: I’d say Militich’s camp is similar to ours. They take that one step further. They all lived together a while.
HT: I’m always amazed to see how many great fighters some of these successful teams have in them!
RC: Yeah, we push each other. We make each other better.
HT: It’s great that you could mentor future fighters too.
RC: Already doing that. Yeah.
HT: If you were putting together an incredible talent to be a great, great champion, what background would you like them to come from and what would you really emphasize, or is it case by case?
RC: I don’t know that the background is that important. Really I think if they come from a particular background- the fact that they have an open mind and are willing to cross-train and learn are the other things that go with that background. And I came from wrestling. I think wrestling is an awesome foundation for fighting. But wrestling in and of itself isn’t enough. I think if you came from kickboxing or striking or if you came from Jiu Jitsu – it’s not enough. You need to learn those other things to be effective. So it’s more important that have an open mind or willing to check their ego and do whatever it takes to learn those other things and be well rounded. And that’s the most important thing. I don’t care what background you came from. It’s yeah, so you’re a striker – are you willing to learn to grapple? Are you willing to learn the takedown? Some Greco? Are you willing to learn the guard? Fight from your back if you have to so that you can get back up and knock that guy out with that kick or that punch?
HT: I remember way back, people were saying, the wrestlers have the advantage. Real good wrestlers, top class wrestlers will still beat the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guys, and so forth. But then the Gracies’ came along, and then Maurice Smith winning the title. It surprised the hell out of people. Now it really is a total thing, isn’t it?
RC: Yeah, I think so. It’s evolved to the point now where it’s become its own sport. It’s kind of cast all those other individual backgrounds or styles into the shadow and become its own entity, its own sport. You have to be able to do all these things if you want to be successful at this sport.
HT: But going back to developing a great champion – a lot of it is mental fortitude, too isn’t it?
RC: Yeah, I think so, there’s psychology involved.
HT: Certain guys have it, like in other sports, but can it be developed also?
RC: Some of that is innate. Some of that that person already possesses. Some of that you just can’t teach. You can’t teach that drive, that kind of innate ability to go out and persevere and compete. It’s something you can develop over time like learning any other skill. You can develop those skills. And you can kind of hone those and bring those out in people. But there’s definitely something there that they have to already have that you can work with. Otherwise they’re not going to be very successful. At least that’s kind of my feeling.
HT: Which fighters in MMA are you particularly impressed with right now? Fedor? Norgueira?
RC: Oh, Fedor’s been amazing.
HT: But I heard from some people that Fedor could be vulnerable to great striker like Mirko Crocop?
RC: I think he still has some weaknesses, certainly, that somebody hasn’t really figured out how to exploit. And I think, yeah, he’d have some trouble with Crocop.
HT: Crocop is an interesting guy doing both Pride and K-1?
RC: I think he’s great. We are actually talking to him about coming here and training with us.
HT: Oh yeah?
RC: I’m pretty excited about that. We hope that works out.
RC: But right now it’s not official.
RC: So yeah, that would be very cool.
HT: That would be amazing!
RC: I’m not looking forward to even feeling that low-kick in training!
HT: He’s an awesome striker but even in Pride he’s so just smart.
RC: He’s very smart.
HT: He uses his movement and stays out of trouble.
RC: Very cool. Very calm.
HT: And because he does both Pride and K-1, he ends up fighting a lot. Bas was telling me how an MMA fighter maybe has 15, 20 fights in a career.
RC: Yeah, I’ve had 20 fights.
HT: Whereas K-1 guys could have 5-10 fights in a year. Bob Sapp told me he signed like a 15 fight contract with K-1.
RC: Yeah, that’s crazy. I think it’s too much, at least for my old body. I can’t imagine peaking that many times in a year. And I did it for wrestling, but wrestling was different. You’re competing for a college team. You competed every week. One week you might have an easy match, a guy that’s not ranked. And then the next week you might have the number 2, number 3 seed. You had to be on your top game. And for your seat at the Nationals you had to perform. So it was an ebbing flow to it. A lot of it was another chance just to test yourself to and see where you were at. And some of it really meant something. So it was different. Maybe it’s that way for them, too. Some fights are easier and they don’t really have to be as sharp as they probably would be. And then, I don’t know, but I can’t imagine fighting 10 times in a year. That sounds grueling to me.
HT: What’s your opinion on Sakuraba?
RC: I really enjoy him! He’s one of my favorite fighters. I love to watch him fight. Again, for that same reason he’s kind of unpredictable and he’s so calm. He’s so relaxed. He’s a technical fighter.
HT: He’s gotten stronger recently too.
RC: Very, very technical guy. And yeah, I’ve enjoyed watching him fight. My first title fight against Maurice was his debut in the UFC. And so from that time, I was impressed with him and from that time I’ve been a fan.
HT: But he comes from a wrestling or pro-wrestling background?
RC: Pro wrestling and wrestling. But he wrestled at the University where a friend of mine, Akira Ota was a silver medalist for Japan, wrestled and now teaches. And so, yeah, he comes from an amateur wrestling background as well.
HT: What about the judo gold medallist Yoshida?
RC: I haven’t seen him that much. I didn’t even see the fight he had in Pride against Tamura. I haven’t watched the whole tape yet. I’ve only watched part of it.
HT: You should see him. He’s only had 2 or 3 fights, but he’s ended every one of them in submission. I mean, once he has them he could kill them.
RC: That’s tough.
HT: Who do you think will come out of the Pride tournament this year? Quinton Jackson? Silva? It’s interesting, isn’t it?
RC: It’s a very interesting- for the 4 men left. It makes for a very interesting fight. I think- I have trouble picking who’s going to come out of the Chuck Liddell vs Quinton Jackson fight.
HT: Quinton Jackson’s good, huh?
RC: He’s very tough.
HT: And strong!
RC: He’s very good at what he does. And powerful, quick and explosive. He’s got good heavy hands. He’s got good submission defense. So it’s going to be a very interesting fight. And Chuck has a lot of great attributes as a fighter. I don’t think Chuck’s going to be able to take him down or hold him down so now he’s got to punch with Quinton.
HT: Chuck’s really bounced back from your defeat hasn’t he?
RC: Oh yeah. And that’s the sign of a guy who’s a true champion. A real fighter just bounces right back up and gets back on the horse and competes the way he competed against Overeem and that was phenomenal. Most guys that would’ve shook their confidence. They would have had trouble getting back in there and competing at that level. I mean that’s a tribute to Chuck. I don’t know that much about Yoshida, so I think certainly that Wanderlei Silva has a little easier go of it.
HT: Wanderlei is so strong. That’s the thing, you know.
RC: He’s just so aggressive. You got to be ready to go because he’s just going to go all out.
HT: But Yoshida could even be hanging on Wanderlei’s neck and be choking him out. He’s world-class at what he does too, you know?
RC: Yeah, purely for the style conflict I’m interested in seeing that fight. If I was betting, I would have to say that Wanderlei is probably going to advance.
HT: But it’s hard to pick an ultimate winner, though, isn’t it?
RC: Very difficult. Yeah, very difficult.
HT: Would you like to be involved in a tournament like that?
HT: But not in one night, though, right?
RC: No, not in one night.
HT: That would be crazy.
RC: Yeah, I’ve done that for Rings and, you know, that’s a real tough night. Strategically I like to figure my opponents out and really prepare. You can do that for that first fight, but then you only got 30, 45 minutes to get ready for that second fight. That’s not enough time. Emotionally that’s difficult.
HT: I remember in the early UFC days, the guy who had a great victory had to pull out because of an injury. Then the alternate ends up winning the whole thing.
RC: Yeah, which is a shame.
HT: But at least they’re doing it one match at a time now.
RC: Danny’s actually going to be in the alternate fight.
HT: Oh yeah.
RC: Danny Henderson.
HT: Oh, that’s cool.
RC: He’s fighting Bustamante in the alternate fight. Conceivable he could end up in the finals.
HT: How about ‘The Beast’ Bob Sapp? Have you seen his fights?
RC: I have. And I’ve actually had the opportunity to meet him and roll with him up at Maurice’s school.
HT: Oh really.
RC: Before the Pedro 2 fight. What a nice-a really nice guy.
HT: He is.
RC: He’s got a great personality and he’s a lot of fun to be around. I had a great time up at Maurice’s. A very unique experience. I was trying to teach him a particular wrestling technique where I was trying to teach him how to turn out of a single leg. If a guy was going to try to take him down on his leg. I was down on his leg and I reached back and he grabbed me by the head. He had a thumb on one ear and a pinky on the other ear. And he just palmed the whole top of my head!
HT: He’s huge!
RC: It was a pretty unique experience.
HT: He’s really just figuring things out as he goes.
RC: Yeah. Basically. I mean, he’s didn’t have a- and he’s a football player.
HT: Still an incredible story, though.
RC: He’s an awesome athlete. Great physical being and just learning the fight technique and all the things that go with it as he goes, which is amazing in and of itself.
HT: I know you’re not a judgmental guy, but in your opinion do you think he could last at the top level of this sport?
RC: Well, it depends on what you mean by last. I mean, does he have to last? If he’s done such a wonderful job of promoting himself and marketing himself then I think at the end of this year, he could probably retire and be okay. He doesn’t really have to last.
HT: Apparently he made 6 million dollars last year.
RC: Yeah. He’s doing an awesome job that way so it depends on what you mean by last.
HT: Maybe go into another career? Whether it be movies or whatever.
RC: He’s making his mark. He’s making his money and maybe he’s not the most devastating competitor in this sport technically, but he’s certainly been a phenomenal tool of marketing.
HT: That’s true because he could even become a superstar in Japanese pro-wrestling.
RC: Yeah, it just depends on what you mean by last.
HT: He has made smart moves. But he is definitely vulnerable, though, isn’t he?
RC: Oh, I think he has some weaknesses for sure. And he does a real good job of using his strengths, his size and his athletic ability to kind of keep you out of those areas where he’s weak.
HT: How would you fight him?
RC: Oh, I think you’ve got to find a way to take him down.
HT: He’s basically more than 160 lbs. heavier than you.
RC: Which is in and of itself poses a whole different problem. You can’t just shoot in under a guy like that and expect to take him down. You have to get very slick.
HT: Would you be interested in an opportunity like that?
RC: I’d be interested in entertaining that idea. Yeah, like I said it would pose some very unique problems with a guy that size and that athletic.
HT: Did you see what he did to Nogueira?
RC: Yeah, the whole country thought he was going to kill Nogueira. I would never want a guy that size on top of me.
HT: Luckily he didn’t have a lot of deadly techniques yet, where he could take advantage of his weight, at least at that time.
RC: Yeah, Nogueira was lucky that it went the way it did.
HT: And Nogueira is not a small fighter either, but he got caught in a couple-
RC: Yeah, he’s still 240 lbs. Sapp picked him up like he was nothing.
HT: He knocked out Ernesto Hoost twice in K-1, but even his punching technique had lots of room for improvement.
RC: Technical punching, yeah.
HT: I guess, people just start seeing stars after a few of those.
RC: Yeah, I imagine. They get knocked across the ring.
HT: He’s been very successful in K-1, but wouldn’t you have thought he’d be much more effective in Mixed Martial Arts?
RC: Yeah, I saw him do an arm bar to somebody.
HT: To Takayama, the Japanese pro-wrestler.
RC: He spent most of his time working with Mo on standup ability because he was going to eventually fight for K-1. But he spent some time with Matt Hughes, too, in trying to add some ground game and some skills on the mat. Yeah, I would think-
HT: And Josh Barnett, too.
RC: Josh and Matt kind of go hand in hand. But, yeah, I would think, like I said, I wouldn’t want that guy on top of me. How do you get out from underneath something like that?
HT: But we’re not likely to see another non-fighting athletes entering Mixed Martial Arts with that kind of success are we?
RC: No, I don’t think so. I watched Gil Castillo do that little exhibition before one of the UFCs against that Tampa Bay Buccaneer (and I can’t remember his name), but he was a big football player, 6’6”, 280. And Gil Castillo is a 170 pounder. And Gil just played with him. Tapped him out 3 or 4 times in a matter of 5 minutes.
HT: The funny thing about Sapp is he fought in that Fox thing.
RC: Tough man?
HT: Yeah, and he didn’t exactly show his potential for greatness there. But I think the K-1 guy saw the tape and decided he was worth giving a shot to. Boy, did that pay off for everyone involved!
HT: Would you ever consider doing K-1?
RC: I’ve never had any illusions about being a purely standup fighter.
HT: Bas Rutten said the same thing. You never fought him, though, right?
RC: No, I was supposed to fight him in UFC Brazil. And that was under the old ownership.
HT: Who was on top in those days?
RC: Actually I was the champion at that time.
I was supposed to fight him – that was going to be for the title. And I had a contract negotiating problem with the old owners. So I was prepared to fight, but they weren’t prepared to pay me what the contract said they were supposed to pay me. So I didn’t fight. And he ended up later, through title elimination, becoming the champion, beating Kevin Randleman. I was already gone. But I’ve known him, watched him since then and studied him back then-
HT: But Bas was considered a good striker because of his karate background.
And he also did kickboxing with Peter Aerts.
RC: So did Pedro Rizzo.
HT: But when I asked him how come he never did K-1, he was like, are you crazy? He said mainly because he’d end up losing too much weight from the different type of training he’d have to do, and that it just wouldn’t make sense for him. Plus, no matter how good a striker one is in MMA, those K-1 guys punch and kick at a different level.
RC: Yeah, I don’t see it necessarily from the conditioning standpoint where I’d lose a bunch of weight, but technically my standup works because I’m a wrestler. Because everyone’s worried I’m going to take a pound. They don’t know when I change levels. Am I going to step in and throw a combination or am I going to shoot and take him down? And that only works in Mixed Martial Arts. When you eliminate that facet, where he knows damn well I’m not shooting and taking him down, I’ve got to stand up in front of him and use technical kickboxing skills. I never had that illusion where I was that good at kickboxing.
HT: And besides you’re going to have your hands full with all the great light heavyweights in UFC and Pride coming after your title.
RC: Yeah, no question.
HT: You know that K-1 is trying to get legitimate boxers to see how they do against their fighters?
HT: Tyson’s supposed to fight Sapp.
RC: Yeah. And there were supposed to be a straight boxing match, which I thought was a bad idea. Not that Sapp should be a kicker, but yeah. I’d like to fight Tyson in an MMA match, but I don’t think he’ll ever do it.
HT: Because I think in K-1, guys like Tua, Briggs, and Botha should all be fairly successful in K-1. Even with the kicks, if they fight the way, kick boxers don’t like to fight. They’re not going to be able to kick very effectively if the boxer just keeps jabbing and..
RC: Put the pressure on him.
HT: Punching strength is a little different.
RC: Yeah, it is.
HT: Someone like Tyson I think will have a lot of success in K-1 regardless whether he develops his kicking or not.
RC: Get a guy that can stay away from him and pick at him with kicks. Those kicks hurt.
HT: Oh for sure!
RC: They’re devastating. If you take too many kicks to the thigh like that, they really cut down your mobility. They’re devastating. Pedro kicked me, I think, 12 times. My whole leg turned black and blue. I had one little thing strip in the inside of my leg that was normal color. And I had a pocket of blood in there that I could chase around like a little alien in my thigh muscle. I still have a big divot here.
HT: You can’t take too many of those!
RC: I was like, I never want that to happen again. And after that fight I went to train with Mo and I said I’m going to learn how to defend my legs and change my balance.
HT: What did you do? Just put that leg up?
RC: Checking your kick. Yeah. The biggest problem was my balance. Wrestlers tend to put all- more weight on their front leg. Kick boxers are opposite – they stand about 60% of the weight on their back leg so they can check those kicks. And then they shift their hips to load their kicks. That’s how they load their kick. It’s a completely different training from what I’m used to doing.
HT: I remember seeing that footage of Pedro kicking the bag in training.
RC: Breaks the back in half!
HT: Matt Hughes does a good job doesn’t he?
RC: Matt Hughes is a great competitor. Wrestling background similar to mine.
HT: Punches pretty well too?
RC: Yeah, he’s added a lot of great skills. He’s become a well-rounded fighter.
HT: You mentioned Tyson; If it was just MMA, straight no holds barred – what kind of success do you think Tyson or Roy Jones would have?
RC: I don’t think they’d last a round.
RC: Unless they put them in there against another standup fighter. Who’s going to try to stand up with Roy Jones or standup with Mike Tyson, who would be so stupid?
HT: So if you were up against Roy, you’d just go right for his mid-section to get him down?
RC: I’d set him up and take him down. I would put him on his ass as quickly as I could.
HT: But Roy’s got some very quick hands though.
RC: Good. I mean, that’s okay.
HT: So you would have to take a couple to get him down?
RC: Yeah. You deal with that. I want him to try and come and punch me. It’s the only way I’m going to get him to kind of extend himself so that I could take that opportunity to close the distance and take him down.
HT: How would you do against Crocop? Because Crocop’s got good hands, great kicks, and he’s pretty strong on the ground too. He’s getting better all the time.
RC: His ground game is really, really-
RC: In that area, he’s improved.
HT: And his kicks!.
RC: His kicks are pretty nasty. I mean, he’s a tough man. That would be a very good fight. He’s a big guy, too. I’m a little guy now. I wouldn’t make a prediction. I’d prepare the best I can, like I always do and be confident that I can go in and execute.
HT: I hear that Don King is considering getting into MMA.
RC: I’ve heard that, too, but I think it’s a rumor.
HT: Yeah, but it’s not surprising that boxing promoters are smelling the money.
RC: Yeah, the potential is huge in this sport. It’s in its infancy.
HT: But do you think it would be good for the sport if those boxing promoters got involved in a big way?
RC: No! I don’t think they’ve done anything for boxing, and I don’t think they’d do anything for our sport. If anything, they started using the same kind of tactics they’ve used in boxing and they’re only going to hurt our sport.
HT: But initially, you guys will mostly likely get paid a lot better than you are now. Even if they are taking tons of money away for themselves.
RC: Yeah, there’s a trade-off there. So we get that mainstream status that we so dearly want, but at what cost? Right now our sport is pretty pure. It’s very little corruption. Very little of anything of that sort of thing going on in our sport. It’s a very nice, clean package right now.
HT: Because I don’t know how much you guys make in UFC, but I know Pride and K-1 fighters make surprisingly little considering how much money they generate. However, it would be an important move for you guys to be televised on cable, outside of Pay-Per-View, wouldn’t it? Or maybe like HBO Boxing or something like that?
RC: I think that’s definitely the next step to continue to grow the sport.
HT: As far as the fans, you’re a real good guy and a great representative for the sport, and the fans have been great for UFC, but where does UFC have to go to get to the level that Pride or K-1 are in right now? America’s got so many different sports going on so it could be difficult.
RC: Yeah, I don’t know as far as selling a show out…. I’ve been to a bunch of the Prides
HT: Amazing, right?
RC: I know what kind of crowds they draw. If you look at the population base that they have right there in Tokyo. They have 10 million people so the population base is there for them. The drive- the marketed drive that kind of gate. I don’t think we have a city that we could put the show in that’s going to do that kind of gate. I don’t think- Outside of the big 3 – football, basketball, and baseball, we don’t really get those kinds of crowds. Certainly no boxing matches get those kinds of crowds. It’s no other combative sport. I think, as combative sports go, we’re the biggest combative sports that sell out 12,000 15,000 seat arenas. And that just doesn’t happen in combative sports arena, in that genre of sports. So, I don’t know if we can do anything as far as selling out a 60,000-seat arenas like in Japan
HT: Just having great shows, one show at a time.
RC: We just have to continue to develop the athletes and their personas and market that.
HT: It wouldn’t be wise to overextend too much either, would it?
RC: Overextend in that you’re getting too big to fast?
HT: Yeah, like Pride happens every couple of months. And there’s K-1 almost every month! There are 3 or 4 more K-1’s before the end of the year!
RC: Yeah. There’s a lot of fighters out there that aren’t’ getting the opportunity to compete at that level. So I wish we’d have more than 6 shows a year. I know as a manager, as a guy who’s trying- that have got a couple fighters that are ready to take that step to be in that level of show. And it’s very difficult to get them in because it’s just not that many opportunities to compete. It’s only 5 weight classes. It’s only really 6 shows a year in the states at that level. So that’s a limited number and a whole bunch of guys that are trying to get in there so it’s hard to distinguish yourself and get that opportunity so I don’t think that would be a bad thing if they had more shows in a year. They had that 36 ½ show where Chuck fought Vitor and we thought they were going to have a bunch more of those much smaller, kind of half shows that would create a lot more opportunity for guys to get some exposure. Find out who some of these younger guys are. The next great fighter is probably sitting out there for some of these weight classes that seem kind of dead right now. And so they need to kind of get things moving and get that-
HT: If there are more shows, there would be more fighters from Russia and Brazil coming this way too.
RC: Get a lot more- You need to get more exposure.
HT: But doing a show every couple months doesn’t mean you have to compete in it every single time either, too. Okay, final couple questions – They say the mark of a true champion is that they know when to call it quits. Are you just going by feel?
RC: Definitely going by feel. Taking it one fight at a time.
HT: Could you see yourself going 4, 5 years?
RC: I don’t think so. It’s possible, but I’m going to take it one fight at a time. I’m not going to put any limits on myself. I’ve more than likely come off the best 2 fights of my career. And I could have just as easily called it quits after losing to Ricco Rodriguez. And I would have missed out on these opportunities to really-
HT: So potential of a couple really strong years?
RC: Physically I’m holding up very well. Mentally I feel great. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m progressing as a fighter. Still each and every time I go out there I think I get better. And as long as that continues and I can train at this level, I’m going to continue to compete. How long that’s going to take place? I don’t know.
HT: But could you possibly have fights as great as the ones you had this year?
RC: I hope so.
RC: I hope that’s not as good as it gets. I hope that it continues to get better. That we continue to see these huge shows. And a lot of mainstream media and all that stuff involved – that would be the ultimate fight right there. To bridge that gap between Pride and the UFC. And to fight Wanderlei Silva. Put both belts on the line. I mean, that would be a huge fight.
HT: So you don’t know how many years exactly, but you want to keep fighting. You want to keep running your-
RC: Gym? Yeah. Keep running my school. I think, you know, I got to have some place to train anyway. I’ve got a great group of guys here. Danny, Matt and Evan Tanner – all guys that are pretty established good fighters. We push each other and basically try to beat each other up on a daily basis. So I think this sport is going to continue to grow and there’s going to be a huge market for schools just like this one.
HT: So the business of the school is very important, too?
RC: Yeah. I think it’s doing very well. It’s not how I make my living right now. We’ve only been open 2 years. But we’re doing good. We’re growing.
HT: Do you have plans of expanding eventually?
RC: I would like to see it franchised.
HT: Oh really?
RC: I would like to see a couple more schools open. You know, maybe one more here in Portland on the Westside, another one in Southern California, where Danny lives now, and see it as an entity that just continues to grow and prosper.
HT: And there’s an interest for you to do movies, too, isn’t it?
RC: A little bit. Dabbled in that field – mostly stunt work. I did Oz, Cradle to the Grave with Jet Li. I would love to try that. I don’t know if I’d be any good at it, but it’s something I’m interested in trying. Putting myself out there.
HT: Do you think you’d like to be the hero or the villain?
RC: I’d do either. I think both would be interesting. I think either one. It doesn’t really matter which I did. Be fun to do a Western. It be fun to kind of step out of this is how they see me and want to pigeonhole me as a fighter like in Cradle to the Grave’s spot.
HT: Well, you’ve got a great look.
RC: I don’t know if I’d be good at it at all, but it’s certainly something I’d be willing to try. It would be fun.
HT: And I know you said that you don’t want to do pro-wrestling because it’s basically not-
RC: It’s not of my-
HT: It doesn’t go with your background.
RC: Talk about acting – I’m just not sure if I could act like that. At least the way they do it in this country. It’s a little bit different in Japan. Coming from an amateur wrestling background. And you know Kurt Engel has done very well for himself. Kind of handled that Olympic and world champion and our sport and kind of moving into pro-wrestling ranks and they’ve kind of gone away with the pretense that it was ever real. Like they used to say, Oh it’s real. And so everybody knows he’s trying to make a living. So he’s been able to come back and he’s been accepted into pro-wrestling, which kind of was his stigma. For amateur wrestlers didn’t think much of pro wrestlers because it seemed like we were always held down. We weren’t able to market. And for some reason amateur wrestling is a hard sell in this country.
HT: Would you do something in Japan, if they asked you?
RC: If the contract was right, yeah. They actually approached me (Japan did) through my management and they were trying to work out a deal, but they didn’t want to pay very much. For me to put my reputation as a fighter, as a real fighter, on the line, it has to be worth it to do.
HT: So otherwise, are you going to stay in Oregon for now?
RC: Yeah, my wife is from here. We just had a baby boy, 6 months old.
HT: No Hollywood for you, huh?
RC: I don’t think so, but I mean, you never know what’s going to happen. I wouldn’t be very surprised if an opportunity like that appeared, and I’d certainly consider it if it did. Right now I’m just trying to make some connections here and there.
HT: What about commentating?
RC: I would love to do that and especially when I’m done competing. I definitely see myself moving into that area.
HT: Well you’re very articulate and you obviously have great opinions.
RC: Of still being involved in the sport aside from managing fighters, but help promote the sport.
HT: I think you’d be a great commentator.
RC: Thank you.
HT: Technical commentator.
RC: Thanks. Got the chance to do it once for UFC, the first one they had in the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. And they had me there as a guest. I enjoyed it. It was fun. It’s good to get an athlete’s perspective.
RC: Of what’s going on. Understand the technical ins and outs of the sport as it’s happening.
HT: Well, you’re the ultimate champ right now so-
HT: Alright, great! Thanks so much.
RC: Thank you.