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Randy Couture Biography

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Birth Name: Randy Couture
Born: 06/22/1963
Birth Place: Everett, Washington, USA

Born Randy Duane Couture on June 22, 1963 in Everett, WA, he won a State Championship in wrestling during his senior year at Lynnwood High School. Couture later participated in the U.S. Army's Freestyle Wrestling team while serving with the 101st Airborne from 1982 to 1988. Upon his discharge, he pursued the sport while studying German at Oklahoma State University, where he was named National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 Champion on three occasions. Couture was also a three-time Olympic team alternate and a semifinalist at the 2000 Olympic trials. He subsequently worked as a wrestling coach at Oregon State University before deciding to try his hand at mixed martial arts. His debut came in 1997 as part of UFC 13, where the 33-year-old Couture faced two opponents, Tony Halme and Steven Graham, both of whom outweighed him by nearly 100 pounds. He defeated both men in less than five minutes each, and performed a similar upset soon after at UFC 15, where he wore down UFC 12 winner Vitor Belfort. Couture closed out 1997 by taking the Heavyweight championship belt from Maurice Smith at UFC Japan, spurring Black Belt magazine to name Couture the year's top full-contact competitor.

However, Couture's tenure at the top of the UFC was short-lived. He lost his title after signing with the Vale Tudo Japan competition, where he subsequently lost his next two matches in 1998. Couture then shifted his focus to amateur wrestling before returning to mixed martial arts in 2000 for the RINGS King of Kings Tournament series. He dispatched a trio of established fighters, Jeremy Horn, Ryushi Yanagisawa and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, but was forced into a submission by Valentijn Overeem during the finals. In between King of Kings matches, Couture also successfully recaptured his UFC Heavyweight championship by defeating Kevin Randleman. He defended his title in a series of grueling matches, first against kickboxer Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31, where a close unanimous decision forced a rematch at UFC 34 in 2001 that Couture won by TKO in the third round. Newcomer Josh Barnett then defeated Couture in 2002, but the win was tossed out after Barnett tested positive for anabolic steroids. Couture finally succumbed in late 2002 during a grueling match at UFC 39, where Ricco Rodriguez forced a submission by breaking Couture's orbital bone. He then moved to the light heavyweight division, defeating top contenders Chuck Liddell and then Tito Ortiz in 2003. The back-to-back wins made him the first UFC fighter to claim titles in two weight classes.

At the age of 40, Couture was arguably one of the most visible figures in mixed martial arts. His fame soon translated to opportunities outside of the sport, including his acting debut in the Jet Li vehicle "Cradle 2 the Grave" (2003) and a stint as a fight announcer at various UFC matches. In 2005, he served alongside Chuck Liddell as a coach for a cast of mixed martial arts hopefuls in the debut season of the reality series "The Ultimate Fighter" (Spike TV/FX/Fox Sports, 2005- ). His presence helped to draw huge audience numbers that, in turn, spread awareness of mixed martial arts to a wider demographic. But as Couture's media presence grew in stature, his fighting career began to wind down. He suffered a significant loss to Vitor Belfort at UFC 46 in 2004, but won their rematch at UFC 49, which cemented his status as Light Heavyweight champion. The following year, he suffered the first knockout of his career to Chuck Liddell, who defeated Couture again at UFC 57 in 2006. Couture subsequently announced his retirement from mixed martial arts and settled into a prolific second act as an actor, commentator and businessman. He founded the Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts training organization in 2006, and moved up to supporting roles in major features like "Invincible" (2006) while also serving as host on various fight-related events on The Fight Network. In June of that year, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

But the lure of the ring proved too great for Couture, and by 2007, he had returned to the UFC as a heavyweight contender. He easily won his first fight against Tim Sylvia and defended his title against Gabriel Gonzaga, though the bout left him with a broken elbow. However, by the end of the year, Couture had again left the UFC over alleged unfair compensation for the Sylvia and Gonzaga fights. The flurry of litigation that followed was resolved in 2008, allowing Couture to return to the UFC, but his matches that year were unqualified losses at the hands of Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. Despite his growing c.v. as an actor, which by that year included the David Mamet drama "Redbelt" (2008) and "The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior," Couture continued to pursue the championship title with UFC. He returned to the light heavyweight class and easily surpassed his first three opponents before suffering a second round knockout from Lyoto Machida in 2011. The loss spurred Couture to bring his storied fighting career to a close at the age of 47. By this point, he was firmly established as an action movie star, enjoying box office success alongside Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables" (2010) and "The Expendables 2" (2012), which cast him as the demolitions expert, Toll Road.