By Jason Scavone
Not a bad year for Randy Couture founder of Xtreme Couture MMA and XCAP. He notched wins over Mark Coleman and former boxer James Toney in UFC 109 and 118, respectively, and in between found time to film the summer blockbuster The Expendables, which has hauled in $266 million worldwide so far.
The veteran fighter hosts tomorrow’s World MMA Awards at The Pearl inside the Palms, put on by Fighters Only magazine to celebrate the year in pummeling. Tickets are $59, $79 and $99.
We talked to Couture about his next flick with Bruce Willis, working with Sylvester Stallone and David Mamet, and just how close he is to retirement from the cage.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
No, first time. I’m excited about it. It’s a little outside of the box for me. It’s a new experience. That makes it fun and interesting for me. We’ll find out how well I can juggle.
For the show itself, are there any surprises you have in store?
I think this awards show, this is the second annual World MMA Awards. It’s unique like our athletes and like our sport. We poke a lot of fun at ourselves. The skits and a lot of the things that run during the show are all done by the athletes, and they put themselves out there. That’s a unique thing about our fighters, too, is that they’re approachable by the fans. We don’t take ourselves so seriously like a lot of the other professional athletes in other sports.
Looking back, what was your favorite fight of the year?
Gosh, there have been some fantastic fights. I think fight of the year is probably going to be the Anderson Silva-chael Sonnen fight [at UFC 117]. Just the turnaround in that fight was remarkable. The fight was amazing start to finish.
How about your favorite fighter in the past year?
I think probably the fighter that I’ve heard the most about and has been very, very impressive this year is Jose Aldo.
Have you been in discussions yet for your next bout?
No, no discussions.
How did you feel coming out of the Toney fight?
I felt great. It was a great matchup for me. I think James was a little misguided into his foray and approach to mixed martial arts.
Have you given any thought to what you might do after your contract is up?
That’s a long ways away. I think the likelihood of me finishing the three fights on the contract is in question. I don’t see myself making another run at the title. The last fight was an interesting fight. Fun to train for, not a lot of downside. I’m ready to focus on making some more movies and enjoying life a little. Working and playing with some of this other stuff that I’ve built over the years.
Do you have anything lined up as far as film goes?
I’m getting ready to do a film with Bruce Willis, in setup.
When would that start?
The 5th or 6th of December.
Can you talk about the project at all?
It’s kind of a gangster movie. That’s really all I can say. It’s going to be fun. There’s definitely some action. I play a smaller character. Not one of the lead characters, but a fun character just the same. I play Petey.
Is it going to be a straight gangster pic, or is it kind of a comedy?
I think there’s some funny things in there, but it’s kind of Pulp Fiction-y type humor.
Both you and Rampage Jackson had big movies this summer. Who do you think could be the next crossover star from the UFC?
It’s hard to say. I know Georges [St-Pierre] has a documentary out. Mike Pyle [is] doing a little something in Men in Black 3. Forrest [Griffin] has played around a little bit with SVU and some other things. I think of all the guys I know that are interested in transitioning, Mike Pyle has got a ton of potential as an amazing character. He’s very, very funny. He’s just got a lot of options there. I think he just did Universal Soldier with [Jean-Claude] Van Damme. I would definitely keep an eye on Mike.
What do you think it is about fighting that fosters this kind of crossover?
I think first and foremost, certainly the fighters are very physical. Most of them have a particular look. I think outside of that, it becomes more individual based on their personalities. I think all fighters have a particular focus, an ability to listen, even under pressure and in heated situations, they keep their wits. All that crosses over well from fighting.
Who did you enjoy working with more, Stallone or Mamet?
I enjoyed both guys a ton. There were some similarities in their styles and also some big differences in their styles. Obviously, you’re not going to find a better wordsmith than David Mamet. The way he writes is very, very unique. Both guys changed things on the fly, on the set. You got new lines right there ready to do the scene. You kind of had to be on your toes. Stallone was much more intense. Obviously, he was wearing a lot more hats as the director, the writer, rewrites and dailies and two and three units going at a time, as well as standing in front of the camera. There was a particular intensity to what he was doing because of all that. Both guys shared that kind of focus. They knew exactly what they wanted, how they needed to get there. That’s impressive. They were both great to work with and great experiences for me.
Mamet has a certain style of picture he does. Would you want to do more intellectual films, or do you prefer working in the action, fun movies?
I would like to keep the options open to do any and all of those things. I don’t want to be pigeonholed or put in that box. I’m certainly happy to work in that box and enjoy that genre of film, but to be able to do some of the headier stuff, I hope to still be able to do that and not just be looked at as an athlete, or as just a physical character player.