Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Ryan Couture admits the fight offer made him uneasy.
Nerves nearly got the best of Couture as he went through the process of signing the contract and sending it in. It wasn’t until the son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture started training for the bout that he left his self-doubts behind.
Ryan Couture’s not describing how he feels ahead of his UFC debut Saturday against Ross Pearson. These insecurities came more than a year ago, when Strikeforce booked Ryan Couture to meet Connor Heun on the undercard of a major event.
“It was sink or swim right from there,” he said. “I had to rise to the occasion and fight a tough veteran like him, someone who was a couple steps up from where I was thought to be at the time. But it brought out the best in me.”
Ryan Couture stopped Heun with a third-round TKO, giving the up-and-coming lightweight a signature win. The 30-year-old who fights out of Las Vegas said he captured momentum with the Heun victory that he hasn’t relinquished since.
Even though Ryan Couture (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will move up another level on the competition ladder by facing Pearson (14-6 MMA, 6-3 UFC) in the co-main event of UFC on Fuel TV 9 Saturday in Sweden, he’s not intimidated. To Ryan Couture, it’s a fight that makes sense for his octagon debut.
“I thought I was going to get a top guy, an established name, and that’s what I got,” he said. “It was a sensible matchup for them to make.”
Not everyone agreed. Fans wondered aloud whether Ryan Couture, who turned professional just two-and-a-half years ago, was ready for a UFC veteran this early and debated the merits of easing him into the promotion instead.
Oddsmakers set Ryan Couture as a plus-320 (risking $1 to win $3.20) favorite, which is only slightly more than the plus-275 tag attached to him before the Heun fight. Pearson joined in on the chorus earlier this week.
“I don’t think he’s on my level,” Pearson told MMAfighting.com. “If things go to plan, he won’t last very long with me.”
The talk has surprised Ryan Couture, but he’s got an idea of why it all started. He believes his detractors are still clinging to the fact that he lost his last fight against K.J. Noons.
Ryan Couture actually picked up a split-decision win in the bout on the final Strikeforce card, but it was controversial, with the majority of media scoring it for Noons. With the outcry, Ryan Couture even figured he lost until he returned home and watched the fight.
“I went back and broke down the tape to see where I went wrong and what he did,” Ryan Couture said. “I felt like it was a really close fight that could have gone either way. I don’t know why everyone made such a big deal about the decision. The people that thought K.J. won acted like it wasn’t even a close fight, and that I think is a ridiculous point of view.”
Noons threw Ryan Couture off by looking to counter-strike more than attack in the bout. Ryan Couture said he learned a valuable lesson to enter fights with more flexible game plans.
That’s what he’ll employ against Pearson, a fighter Ryan Couture ranks as the best he’s met but also someone he’s confident he can beat. No matchup has the ability to make him nervous, not after he got through Heun decisively.
“They threw me in there with him, and that was the turning point for me,” Ryan Couture said.