Randy Couture is new to Bellator. From 1997 to 2011, Couture was arguably the UFC’s biggest star. He is now retired from fighting with more accomplishments in the cage than you can count. These days his focus is outside the cage as a coach and actor. He plays Toll Road in the Expendables films, but stating tomorrow night on SpikeTV’s Fight Master: Bellator MMA, Couture will be playing himself. I recently spoke with Couture about his post-fight career careers.
What can fans expect from Fight Master?
Randy Couture: It’s a mixed martial arts reality show. We start with 32 fighters and whittle it down to one. Kind of like The Voice, the fighters choose their coaches, their camps and they actually choose their opponents as well.
What if all the fighters wanted to train with you or Greg Jackson?
Couture: Each camp only has four spots. If my camp or one of the other camps fills up right away, fighters will have to choose a different camp.
(I’ll have a preview of Fight Master: Bellator MMA tomorrow. Yes, I will explain how it isn’t Spike’s old MMA reality competition.)
How was your experience on Fight Master?
Couture: I liked it. I’ve been a coach for a long time. I was a coach before I started fighting. I enjoy the coaching experience. It’s a great group of young guys that we got to work with. There’s some great talent and dedication so it was a good experience for me.
Did the show get in the way of your movie career?
Couture: No. I just finished a movie in December called Ambushed and it looks like there is a green light for Expendables 3 and we’ll start shooting in August.
I am personally a huge fan of the Expendables films. Would you compare that experience to what young fighters are going through on Fight Master?
Couture: It was a great group of guys to be involved with. I was definitely paying attention. Looking at the way that guys like Schwarzenegger and Willis and Chuck approach the endeavor and the process of acting. They were all very professional and good at what they do. Obviously, with Sylvester Stallone leading the charge its going to get crazy. Just a fun experience from top to bottom.
Which of your Expendables co-stars would stand the best chance against you in the cage?
Couture: Well, the only guy there with real combative sports experience was Dolph Lundgren. He’s done a lot of sparring and karate. All the guys are very very good at what they do and obviously its a very physical group of guys.
What do you think you brought to the show as a coach?
Couture: I spent 15 years fighting. I developed a system for preparation, both physical and mental preparation to go out and compete. Using my staff and the system that we put together that has been successful, we put the guys through a similar style of training. A training regimen where we try to rationally evaluate their skill sets and where they’re at. And then sharpen the appropriate ones based on the opponents they were facing. That became a little more challenging because we didn’t have a lot of information first on the athletes we were working with themselves, but then also on the opponents that they faced. But I think it came out very well. It was a good experience for a lot of these young guys that hadn’t been in that style of training camp. I think it gave them a different perspective.
What about the rest of the coaches?
Couture: I think all the coaches have different approaches to the sport. I tend be a game-planner. That’s also part of what Greg Jackson does. I think all four guys have a very astute understanding of the sport. Probably the wild card in the bunch would be Joe Warren. I don’t think he has a lot of coaching experience, but he’s a great competitor so transferring that to his athletes was the challenge for him. Any one of these four coaches would have helped these athletes get a lot out of the experience.
What has it been like working with Bellator?
Couture: This was my first opportunity to meet Bjorn Rebney. He has some great insights. He has a great understanding of the sport and these young athletes who are trying to get into his show. He was certainly helpful.
Would you have liked to have gone on a show like Fight Master when you were an up-and-coming fighter?
Couture: I think it would have been interesting. It’s an interesting format and being able to choose would have been intriguing.All these guys are working to get a shot in the Bellator tournament. The biggest thing that distinguishes this show is that the fighters choose everything. They choose the coaches, their camps and their opponents. It makes for a unique game.
Fight Master: Bellator MMA premiers Wednesday June 19 at 10pm Eastern on SpikeTV. At 8pm, Bellator’s Summer Series kicks off with 4 live fights.
[Images: Spike TV / Atiba Jefferson]