Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009 | 6 a.m.
Father’s Day may be months away, but the two amateur mixed martial artists headlining tonight’s 7 p.m. TUFF-N-UFF card at The Orleans credit their quick success in the sport because of paternal bonds.
Until a year ago Ryan Couture was content being the son of legendary Randy Couture, but living 1,000 miles away and working at a bank in Bellingham, Wash.
Now Ryan, who is making just his second fight tonight when he takes on Art Martinez as part of the 16-bout card called “The Future Stars of MMA,” can’t keep himself out of the gym.
“Yeah it’s a little different than the bank job,” joked Couture, who helps run his father’s gym. “It’s pretty cool to be fighting like my father.”
Unlike many fighters who have to learn the sport on their own, Ryan admits he is lucky to have the resources that are available to the son of a former UFC champ, but he says his dad never pushed him to follow the fight path.
“I got to come in on it on my own. It was my thing and he let me do it the way I wanted to,” said Ryan, who recorded a win over Ricky Perez in his debut in November.
“I’m not trying to be just like him, few people would be able to pull that off anyway. I’m trying to prove myself in this sport and show what I’m made of.”
So too is Martinez, who after living in Las Vegas for a year and half and working as iron worker, moved back to his old stomping grounds of Chino and Riverside, Calif.
The 21-year-old trains full time and says the move back as helped create a tight bond with his family — especially 3-year-old son Isaac.
“It’s pretty funny because he will go down to the gym with me and have a matching little outfit on and try to mimic the moves I’m doing,” said Martinez, who is 1-0 at 155-pounds and 1-1 at 170.
“He loves to be involved and I really love that I was able to come back home and continue my career with him right there.”
Martinez said his opponent’s famous lineage isn’t a factor in the fight, other than maybe selling some extra tickets.
“He seems like humble guy, but I’m thinking he should have taken on somebody with a little less experience,” Martinez said. “Of course we’ll see how it plays out.
“He’s not the same type of fighter from a style standpoint as his father is, so you can’t really take anything from their connection.”
Ryan agreed with Martinez on part of his statement, but said you can’t take away the caliber of fighters he trains with on a daily basis.
“Those are some of the top guys in the world that I go against each and every day,” Ryan said. “I think that’s a huge advantage. You can’t duplicate that unless you’re doing the same thing.
“My style is different than my dad’s in being that since I’m a smaller fighter, I tend to use more kickboxing and speed.”
Both fighters said that no matter how the fight goes, the big man (Randy Couture) and little man (Isaac) will be watching ringside.
“It’s pretty neat that it has become a family thing for us,” said Ryan, whose step mom, Kim, also fights.
“We’re all behind each other a 100-percent and it’s a real cool vibe that we share.”