Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009 | midnight
If You Go
- What: Tuff-N-Uff's "Future Stars of MMA
- When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
- Where: the Orleans
- Former Playboy model wins MMA debut (5-31-2009)
- Anatomy of an amateur MMA event (5-30-2009)
- Promoter's dream is for fighters to follow their dream (5-30-2009)
- Local wrestler back at it on different mat (4-25-2009)
- Lesser-named fighters show they are Tuff-N-Uff (3-28-2009)
- Chip off the Couture block (2-16-2009)
Beyond the Sun
This past March, Ryan Couture tasted two bitter pills for the first time in his young mixed martial arts career.
He suffered a near knockout blow from former training partner Elisey Yarovoy and then, eventually, a unanimous decision loss to Yarovoy — the first setback for the 26-year-old son of UFC legend Randy Couture.
But the sour moment in Bellingham, Wash., close to where Couture grew up in nearby Woodinville, he says, was a necessary process for his continued development in the fight game.
“It was disappointing but definitely a valuable learning experience. I learned that I can go in there and work hard for three rounds, and I also learned I could take a big punch,” said Couture, who takes a 2-1 amateur record and his newly-gained knowledge into tonight’s Tuff-N-Uff bout against fellow Las Vegan Jimmy Spicuzza.
The 20-fight card, set to go at 7 p.m. at the Orleans, will also feature a 135-pound title tilt between Xtreme Couture’s Jimmy Jones and Chris Brady of Legends.
Unlike Couture — who was an accomplished high school wrestler in Washington — Spicuzza, a 2003 graduate of Palo Verde, had a more nontraditional path to MMA.
The 24-year-old Spicuzza, who played basketball for Palo, had taken some karate training as a kid. After trying out junior college and deciding it wasn’t for him, Spicuzza and a couple of his buddies who were intrigued by the growing combat sport began “mixing it up.”
That was in 2006. Now, three years later, Spicuzza finds himself squaring off with the son of the former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champ who was one of the very fighters who fueled his interest in MMA.
“Of course you think about his name and all that, but even more than that I think about the quality of training partners he has over at Xtreme Couture. But eventually you kind of realize none of that stuff really matters once the fight begins,” said Spicuzza (3-1), who trains at Excel Defense and Team Mica Jiu Jitsu.
“I know what I’m capable of and feel that my training partners are just as good as his. Once we get in the ring, the names, and training partners don’t mean anything. It’s just me versus him.”
But Spicuzza, who said he really became serious about advancing in the sport last August, is definitely not underestimating Couture.
“He has good all-around game and is very technically sound,” Spicuzza said. “I don’t think there is any part of his game that is lacking, so it’s about staying tight and executing my game plan better than he does.”
After his last fight, Couture also knows that anything is possible — including surviving a knockout-caliber punch.
“That was the first time I’ve really been rocked in a fight,” Couture said. “I don’t remember it real well except that I immediately started to go for the clinch, close the distance and try to get the fight somewhere where I could recover.
“It was crazy to me how much that affected by stamina and ultimately impacted the fight. While I was disappointed about the loss, I took a lot of things from that fight, and it helped me refocus my training. I’m definitely ready to get back out there.”
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.