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Q&A with former champion Randy Couture

Las Vegas-based Randy Couture answers questions with fans during UFC session

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UFC legend Randy Couture stands in the corner of one his teammates during a fight at UFC 115 in Vancouver, British Columbia on June 12, 2010.

Former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture was the guest of honor at a recent question-and-answer session with fans in Oakland, Calif.

Here are a few highlights from the hourlong talk.

Sometimes when fighters get knocked out they're never the same. How have you come back from getting knocked out and continued your career as one of the top fighters?

I think there are two parts to that. Certainly there's the psychological part for a fighter, he has to get back on the horse. The physical part, I'm not sure I can even explain that. It seems like some guys, once they cross that line of getting knocked out it seems to be an easier button to hit.

Your son, Ryan, is making his professional debut Aug. 13 on Strikeforce. What are your thoughts on that?

I don't get nervous. I've been around this a long time and never seen any serious injuries. He has a healthy passion for the sport. I'm real excited for him.

He trains at Xtreme Couture, and he's rubbing elbows with some great guys like Gray Maynard, Tyson Griffin, Evan Dunham — some of the top 155-pounders on the planet.

I try to take a big step back in his deal. He already has the burden of trying to drag along the last name. I try to stay out of the way as much as possible. If he comes to me I'm happy to be involved but other than that I'm happy to sit in the front row and cheer him on.

This is going to be James Toney's first mixed-martial-arts fight. How do you prepare for someone who's basically unpredictable at this point?

Well, I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry about him kicking me in the head. Ray Sefo is a world-class kickboxer I work with, and he's been simulating James Toney's boxing style. My boxing coach (Gil Martinez) knows James very well and understands how he sets up his punches.

I think James himself is pretty much thinking he's going to walk in with just his boxing skills. How much is he really going to learn in the few months he's had before this fight? I've got to be aware of, especially early in the fight, his striking range and use some footwork, frustrate him, get him to chase me and put him on his back.

We saw what happened with (Quinton) Rampage Jackson when he was distracted for his fight with Rashad Evans after promoting the "A-Team." Do you think promoting "The Expendables" has done the same thing to you?

I don't think it has. Rampage did the movie and didn't really train. He was out for well over a year and didn't get any training or competing in. I'm very, very active.

The movie stuff has been a very little distraction to the camp. I've taken my coaches with me to the press stuff I had to do so I could get my training in. It's actually been a relief from the normal grind of a camp.

Is there any added pressure taking on James Toney since the fight has been promoted as "Boxing vs. UFC"?

I think it's a good thing. You want people to tune in and maybe we'll get a lot of eyes of from the boxing world who haven't watched before.

I don't choose to plug into the pressure of all that. Whether I win or lose, this sport is going to continue on the track it's on and it really has nothing to do with it. I definitely want to go out and do what I train to do and welcome James appropriately to mixed martial arts.

What is going on with Gina Carano and will we see her compete again?

Gina just did a movie that's going to be coming out soon. I haven't seen her in the gym, haven't talked to her in nine months. I'm not sure where she's at. I know the movie is going to be very big for her and I'd be very surprised to see her back in the cage.

How are Gray Maynard's preparations going for his lightweight fight against Kenny Florian at UFC 118?

Gray looks great. He's a tenacious competitor. He's really improved most in his boxing and striking. I think he's really gone back to his wrestling in this camp. I don't think he really wants to try and bang it out with Kenny. I think that's going to be a big fight for both those guys and I'm interested to see how it comes out.

With Fedor Emelianenko losing his last fight (to Fabricio Werdum in June) and nearing the end of his contract with Strikeforce, if the UFC ever signed him, would you still expect the first crack at him?

I would like the first crack at him. I would certainly put my name in that hat and try to get the first crack at him.

Everybody in this sport loses at some point. I think he summed it up best after that fight when he said, "Those who have never fallen can never stand back up."

Chuck Liddell says he still doesn't want to retire. What do you think about that?

I'm in support of whatever Chuck wants to do. I think everybody else on the outside needs to back off and let Chuck decide.

Going into the (June 12) fight in Vancouver that's the best I've ever seen him look. He committed to that camp and it was unfortunate that Tito (Ortiz) pulled out when he did and it ended up being Rich Franklin because that's not a great style matchup for Chuck. I think if Tito had been in the one in that cage, it might have been a different outcome that night. That's unfortunate, considering what had happened with Chuck's previous four fights. I think ultimately, it's up to Chuck.

Your camp is known for coming out with great game plans. How hard is it to stick to that when you get in there and not try to prove you're something else?

It's difficult, guys get tunnel vision. They get excited to show the improvement in the specific area they've been working on and they want to get in there and show that off.

Best example I can give is with Tyson Griffin. He went back to his wrestling after that (Evan) Dunham fight because he said, 'there's now way that guy should have out-wrestled me.' That's basically what he did, took his back all three rounds. Tyson is an amazing wrestler and he focused on that all camp and his game plan (with Takanori Gomi) was to put him on his back and he just didn't get a chance to.

Some people are saying they stopped it too soon but I don't think they did. If Tyson had fallen on his back Gomi would have had to come to his guard and he maybe could have recovered. But he fell flat on his face. The referee did the right thing.

What do you think when a guy trash-talks his opponent before a fight?

I think sometimes you want to create that emotional interest. Whether or not you want to see someone get his (expletive) kicked or be successful, it does create an interest.

Is it necessary? I don't think it's necessary. I think it can cross the line sometimes and take away from the sport. But most of the time, guys want to market themselves and sell a fight and you can't really argue that. It's not my style but you know it when you walk into a guy who does that, like James Toney, but it just makes me smile.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at LVSunFighting

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