Randy Couture recalls being ‘fly in the ointment’ for UFC’s Chuck Liddell plans in 2003

When the UFC offered Randy Couture an interim light heavyweight title shot in 2003, the writing was on the wall.

Couture, already a two-time heavyweight champion by then, knew the UFC wasn’t happy about him beating the younger Pedro Rizzo twice in back-to-back fights to defend his title in 2001.

“I don’t think they were too keen on having a 39, 40-year-old heavyweight champion,” Couture said in a recent episode of “Legend 2 Legend” with Burt Watson. “I don’t think they thought I was very marketable.”

In 2002, Couture lost his title when he was TKO’d by Josh Barnett, who subsequently was stripped after testing positive for banned substances. That gave Couture a chance to reclaim his belt six months later in a vacant title fight against Ricco Rodriguez, but Couture was submitted in the fifth round.

After that, Couture was slated to fight Andrei Arlovski until, three weeks before the fight, Arlovski broke his hand. So the UFC called Couture with a Plan B.

How about he moves down in weight to fight Chuck Liddell for an interim light heavyweight title?

At that time, Liddell was in a heated feud with former friend and then undisputed champion Tito Ortiz. Liddell vs. Ortiz was the biggest fight the UFC could make. The way Couture saw the situation, UFC president Dana White and the Fertitta brothers wanted to put Liddell over with interim gold so they could apply pressure on Ortiz to accept a title-unifier with Liddell.

“Obviously I was the fly in the ointment for that whole scenario,” Couture said.

No doubt about that as Couture went on to dominate Liddell before finishing him in the third round with some vicious ground-and-pound to become the first fighter in UFC history to win titles in two divisions.

In the video above, the UFC Hall of Famer reflects on his victory and how it put him in “a bit of an adversarial situation” with White and the Fertitta brothers.

Or check out the full episode below.

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