UFC Lightweight Ryan Couture was a guest of MMA Fight Corner on Wednesday ahead of his upcoming bout with winner of The Ultimate Fighter season nine, Ross Pearson (14-6, MMA). Not only will it be Couture’s first fight as a UFC fighter, but he will be featured in the co-main event at UFC on FUEL TV 9 in Stockholm, Sweden’s Ericsson Globe Arena on April 6.
Ryan will make history in his very first UFC fight as the first son of a former fighter, Randy Couture, to step foot inside the Octagon. But his fight is no “gimme”, he’ll have to start by earning his stripes the hard way. Nonetheless, he is hyped up for his chance to show the world who he is.
“I’m excited. It’s going to be an interesting sort of curve ball with the preparation to have that long fight and the time change to adjust to, but I got some good tips from the old man and think I’ll be able to take that in stride. And I’m really looking forward to seeing Sweden, that’s going to be a really cool experience over there,” said Couture.
With a 12-hour flight from Las Vegas to endure, an eight hour time difference to adjust to, and food that may not be familiar to contemplate consuming, the 30-year-old Couture is ready for the next phase of his journey, making his UFC debut. With several media obligations and fight week ahead of him, Ryan welcomes the exposure and isn’t shunning away the whirlwind of excitement that comes along with it.
“It’s already started to pick up. I’ve had a lot more media requests and a lot more stuff going on than I’ve had for any of my fights. So far it hasn’t been too tough of an adjustment. I’m interested to see what it’s like when I get over there. That’ll definitely be another interesting change, but at least it means I won’t be sitting around a hotel room with nothing to do all week. So I’m looking forward to that.”
Well aware that any publicity he gets as he transitions into his most recent endeavor will include questions about his father, a UFC Hall of Famer and legend of the Octagon, Ryan is handling the positive and the negative that come along with his surname in stride. Even with the recent bad blood between UFC President Dana White and his father, Ryan’s managed to keep moving on his path without that distracting him.
While Ryan still trains under the Xtreme Couture banner (his father’s gym), when he makes his UFC debut he won’t have Randy in his corner this time. Nor will he have his grappling coach, Neil Melanson who has a medical condition that restricts him from strenuous travel. Frank Trigg, Marcus Kowal and Tim Lane will corner Couture instead.
Growing up with a famous last name isn’t necessarily a curse, but it can’t be easy having to always live in the shadow of his father. But Ryan said his father’s career showed him that he would too inevitably pursue MMA, and that the road would have its share of bumps along the way.
“It made me a huge fan of the sport and it gave me a unique perspective on what it was to be a fighter, and what it took, and his whole process, what he went through. So I got to see it first hand and see the good and the bad that comes with it. I didn’t see myself ever doing it and part of the reason was because of the expectations I knew that would be placed upon me. But once I started training and I fell in love with it, I didn’t see any other option, I was hooked. So, I think if it wasn’t for what he did, for being there for his career, and being a fan, and falling in love with the sport, through that I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. But it did act as a deterrent at the same time.”
“I don’t feel any pressure because of it. The only pressure I feel is that pressure I put on myself to perform to my capabilities. It’s something that I came to terms with before I even stepped in the ring as an amateur the first time was that this is the life I was choosing that I’m always going to be in that shadow and talking about it. It just motivates me to work that much harder to build my own resume and my own body of work so for people to have something more to talk about than just dad. As long as we’re talking about something I did and as well as talking about that relationship then I’m fine with it and I’m doing my job.”
As the fight quickly approaches, Couture will take on Ross Pearon who is fighting for the second time at lightweight. Also, Pearson’s fresh off a victory over George Sotiropoulous at UFC on FX 6, the finale of the season of TUF they coached. However, Pearson hasn’t been able to maintain any consistency. He’s gone back and forth in the win column over his last six fights.
Couture currently holds a record of 6-1 with every fight on his pro resume having been inside the confines of the Strikeforce hexagon up until now. He is an underdog coming into the scrap, but with the improvements he makes to his game at every level, each time he steps into the cage, Ryan welcomes the challenges Pearson presents.
“I feel I’m going to need to be on point with my wrestling. I think I can have a significant advantage if I can get the fight to the mat, but it’s no small feat to get Ross there. That’s the big thing for me is staying away from his power, and picking my spots, getting my hands on him and force the grappling and apply my advantage there. It’s just going to be a matter of fighting smart and not making any mistakes. Ross is very dangerous, but I’m more than capable of beating him. And the way we match up, I just have to pick my openings and tip the odds in my favor.”
Couture added that the dreaded Octagon Jitters won’t get the best of him come April 6.
“I’m not expecting to really feel that, but I really won’t know probably until the fight is over. I think it’ll be similar to my pro debut where the whole lead up to the fight I felt fine and I didn’t feel like I was dealing with any nerves. And then, as soon as the fight was over, there was this huge release and this huge weight lifted off me and I could see maybe something similar happening in this one,” said Couture. “But as far as how I felt during preparation, I feel confident and training’s been great and everything feels just like it should. So I don’t seeing it being an issue.”
UFC on FUEL TV 9 will be headlined by a UFC light heavyweight match up between Gegard Mousasi and Swedish native Alexander Gustafsson. The lightweight contest between Ross Pearson vs. Ryan Couture will be the co-main event on FUEL TV.