The most significant fight of his life is only a few days away for Ryan Couture, but considering what he's been through recently, composure shouldn't be an issue.
He'll make his UFC debut on Saturday when he takes on Ultimate Fighter Season 9 winner Ross Pearson in the co-main event of UFC on Fuel 9 in Stockholm, Sweden.
UFC president Dana White talks frequently of the so-called "UFC jitters," that accompany a fighter's first appearance in the largest mixed martial arts promotion. Veteran Antonio "Big Foot" Silva admitted during a recent interview that he was nervous for his 2012 fight with Cain Velasquez simply because it marked his UFC debut.
But Couture has more to worry about than simply calming his nerves. The son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, Ryan Couture will be forced to fight without either of his top two coaches. Randy Couture, of course, is on the outs with White and has been banned from even attending UFC events, let alone working a fighter's corner. On top of that, his grappling coach, Neil Melanson, was in the hospital last week and unable to make the trip to Sweden with Ryan Couture.
That will make for a difficult enough debut for any fighter. But Ryan Couture also has to deal with another reality: because of his pedigree, a win over him simply means more to opponents.
"I have a bull's-eye on me because of my famous last name," he said. "A win over me is a higher-profile win than it would be if my father weren't who he is."
Even that, though, isn't Ryan Couture's biggest issue.
Imagine, if you can, hearing your boss spew the kind of venom at your father than White did at Randy Couture. And then imagine the calm, rational reaction that Ryan Couture had and think if you could come close to matching it.
There's little chance that most people would be able to handle the situation the way that Ryan Couture has. It's not that White won't let Randy Couture work the corner. It's not that Randy is banned from even being in a venue on the day of a UFC fight.
It's the vicious way that White has spoken of his father that has to gall Ryan Couture. In February, after he learned that Randy Couture was planning to leave his job working for the UFC on its Fox broadcasts to work for Spike TV, White savagely ripped into one of the biggest stars in his company's history.
"He didn't even finish his contract – he's got one more fight left – and he bails on the contract to go do this," White said then. "Randy Couture has this 'Captain America' image and stuff like that, but he is not a good guy. He has never been a good guy. And I'm actually, and I mean this, I couldn’t mean it any more: I am happy that he went there. I'm happy he is there. I never have to deal with Randy Couture ever again."
Ryan Couture, though, managed to handle the situation about as adroitly as any young man could, given the circumstances.
He understood that the dispute was between his father and his boss, and he made the best of it.
Even more, he didn't take it personally when his boss loudly, publicly and repeatedly trashed his father.
"It sucks and it's hard to hear someone say so much stuff about someone I love and respect so much," Ryan Couture said. "At the end of the day, though, I know Dana is an emotional guy and he's known for flying off the handle like that when he's angry. His actual feelings on the subject [of my father] may be more toward the middle, but that's not his style or how he is. I just take it for what it is. They have a disagreement over business and that's their issue. For what Dana says, I get he's emotional and gets angry and says things. I don't like to hear it, but I don't take it personally because I understand the situation."
It's hard to imagine anyone handling it better. And that speaks well of his fight career. If he can stay as cool, calm and rational when he's in a bad spot in a bout as he has when he's heard his father blasted by his boss, he'll win a lot more than he loses.
Ryan Couture has a lot going on in his life as he heads into his UFC debut, but if anyone can handle the circus, he seems to be the guy.
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