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Randy Couture hasn’t allowed injuries to slow him down

An overview of the handful of serious injuries Couture has endured in mixed martial arts

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Sam Morris

Randy Couture gets a drink of water from Vitor Belfort in between rounds during a workout Thursday, April 21, 2011 in preparation for what he says will be his final fight April 30 at UFC 129.

Randy Couture Workout

Randy Couture catches his breath after a workout Thursday, April 21, 2011 in preparation for what he says will be his final fight April 30 at UFC 129. Launch slideshow »

Randy Couture Fights

Randy Couture works out in preparation for his upcoming fight against James Toney Friday,  August 20, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Since announcing his retirement from mixed martial arts last week, Randy “The Natural” Couture has repeatedly said he made the decision because he didn’t want a serious injury to dictate the end of his career.

Perhaps the 47-year old Couture feels fortunate to have escaped such situations throughout his career in the UFC. In a sport where injuries with long recovery periods are as common as leg kicks, Couture has stayed remarkably healthy.

“The guy is pushing 50 and never gets injured,” UFC President Dana White said. “It’s incredible.”

He’s only had more than 12 months in between fights once in 14 years because of injury. That came in 2008 when he opted for elbow surgery after a loss to then-heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

That’s not to say Couture hasn’t endured his fair amount of pain. He’s dealt with more cuts, bruises and nagging injuries than he can count.

“I’ve pushed it a lot further than anybody is going to push it and I just feel like I want to go out on my own terms,” Couture said. “I don’t want to have doctors telling me, ‘you can’t fight anymore.’”

Here are seven of Couture’s most notable ailments throughout his storied MMA career.

Cauliflower Ear- Many mixed martial artists and wrestlers suffer from cauliflower ear — which occurs when the ear sustains repeated damage, severing the connection between the skin and cartilage and filling with fluid — but Couture has arguably the most severe case. It can be attributed not only to his MMA career, but also collegiate and youth wrestling dating back more than 30 years.

Head Trauma- Couture has suffered two career losses by knockout, both against Chuck Liddell. But he said his only major concussion occurred during the second Liddell fight at UFC 52. Couture described the moment: “You lose that little piece of time. One second, you’re there. The next second you’re going ‘what the hell happened? The scenery’s changed.’”

Corneal Abrasion in Left Eye- In a title fight at UFC 46 in 2004, Vitor Belfort’s glove sliced Couture’s eye 48 seconds into the fight. It cut through his eyelid and blood poured into his socket. The referee quickly realized Couture’s eye wasn’t working properly and stopped the fight to rush Couture to the hospital. Surgery assured the injury wasn’t career threatening.

Bone Spurs in Left Elbow- Couture fought through a gruesome training injury to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 in 2008. He had two large bone spurs in his elbow, which he allowed to linger until undergoing surgery shortly after a TKO loss to Lesnar.

Broken Left Forearm- Many consider Couture’s UFC 74 victory over Gabriel Gonzaga in 2007 as one of his most memorable — in no small part because he fought through a broken arm before winning with a third round TKO. Couture blocked a Gonzaga kick with his forearm, which snapped his ulna bone. Couture cringed, but got through the rest of the fight.

Popped rib- For one of the rare times in his career, Couture was forced to pull out of a scheduled 1998 bout with Mark Coleman when he dislocated a rib training for that year¹s Greco-Roman wrestling nationals.

Severe left leg contusion- Although it doesn’t sound as serious as some of his other ailments, Couture said one of the most painful injuries came after a 2001 win over Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31. “I had a swollen, black leg for three weeks after that fight and did not walk right for a while. I learned a very valuable lesson: I’ve got to learn how to kick, I’ve got to learn to check a kick. For crying out loud, I don’t want that to happen again,” Couture said. Lethargic

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or case.keefer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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