In Randy Couture’s “Becoming the Natural:” My life in and Out of the Cage, he and co-author Loretta Hunt dive into the details of Randy’s life, from his father’s departure at a young age, to his two failed marriages, to finally, his final days with the UFC. And just like many championship moments inside the cage, Couture once again delivers.
Couture’s childhood inside his house is described as confusing. His father left at a very young age and he never truly understood why. His mother was left to raise him and his 2 sisters alone. He played sports and had no fear from an early age. He took on kids that he felt were bullies. Later in life, he would again. The book discusses how Randy became a parent at 18, and quickly married that women, while friends and family disapproved.
Randy also discusses about how he repeatedly cheated on that wife while he was on the road in the Army and with the Oklahoma State wrestling team (where he graduated from with a 4.0 GPA). While in the Army it is clear that Couture spent most of his time wrestling and less time in battle, but he enjoyed the life and seeing the world. While in the Army he was offered steroids by a teammate, which he admits he purchased, but never used.
He was offered a wrestling scholarship to Oklahoma State after his stint in the Army and wrestled with MMA legend Don Frye. He talks about how disappointed he was to never step into the Olympic village over the years, even though he acted as an alternate on the wrestling team. After his own schooling and the Army, he meets his soon-to-be second wife while coaching at Oregon State and divorces his first. At times during these years Randy seems alone, but usually content.
Will Make you Laugh
His life prior to the UFC has some funny and candid moments as well. Like the time Randy chased down a car who had driven into another car and he suffered some injuries to his midsection. He was rushed to the hospital, but did not want the nurse to cut his pants off since he was wearing a red thong. He explains that he “hated the way boxers and briefs bunched up, so decided I would wear thongs”. He says he never wore them again.
When Couture describes how he first got involved in the UFC you wonder what he was thinking. He had no training in any disciplines other than wrestling and won his first two cage fights, against giants. Maybe unintentional, but often throughout the book, you wonder if Couture is crazy, naive or one of the most courageous men alive. The reader begins to understand the name ‘The Natural’ comes from his uncanny ability to pick up on the different martial arts so quickly, since (at one time) he was a 34 year old wrestler with zero training.
Couture narrates how scared Vitor Belfort looked before their first fight in 1997 and the exact reason why he wore long pants against Mo Smith in their title fight just 2 months later (It’s a good reason too).
Couture details how Team Quest would have been dead in the water if it weren’t for Matt Lindland and discusses the close bond he had with Matt and Dan Henderson. That relationship that was tested over the years and is not the same today. Later the book details how politics back in Oregon drove Randy away from Team Quest during his second divorce and he ultimately gave his shares of TQ to Lindland and Robert Follis for nothing. Couture blames only himself for any of this.
Randy foreshadows that he had problems with Zuffa from day 1, but acknowledges the sport would have died without them. He thought Josh Barnett was “cocky and full of himself” and he had Tim Sylvia stay and remodel his house after Randy’s win over Tito Ortiz. (More foreshadowing). He also details training with Ortiz in California leading up to his Liddell fights.
The trilogy with Liddell is documented in detail. Andrei Arlovski is described as a quiet, wonderful training partner and cornered Randy in his last fight with Chuck. Randy was going through his second divorce during training for this fight, which made it very difficult.
When Couture wanted to back to fight again in the UFC he text White saying ‘What if I fought Tim?’. Sylvia called Couture days after the announcement and was upset.
Time to Move on
Couture described how he felt Zuffa treated him poorly for years and says his decision to leave was based on “seven years of feeling slighted, overlooked, used and unappreciated”. He details White vetoing his SI cover to airbrushing him out of an advertisement from years ago (when his contract negotiations stalled). It upset him that he had turned down a $3 mill offer from Bodog to fight Fedor to stay with the UFC, but Zuffa seemed not to care.
The day he quit he only did 3 interviews and made one call. That was to Sherdog.com editor Josh Gross.
At times in his fighting career he also appears alone. But Randy says he is always doing what he feels is right and fights for himself. In the cage and in life.
Couture told Zuffa he would sign a contract saying he would never fight in another organization, if they let him out of his non-compete. To this day, Couture is still fighting with Zuffa over his contract status. He opens up his own gym in Vegas and all over the world.
Randy describes how he found out when he was 40 years old that the man who raised him as his father, may not have been. The book never clearly concludes on this. He discusses failed relationship with friends and family and the reader gets a sense that gaining, (and maintaining) these relationships in the fight business can often be difficult, if not impossible.
Later Couture talks about his life long passion to become an actor and makes good on that by garnering roles in high budget Hollywood films.
He laments that fighters are a tight knit group, but that is challenged throughout the book, as relationships fall apart around him. Randy relies on his strong faith in God and believes there is a reason for everything that happens to us.
This book goes far beyond Couture’s win and losses inside the cage. His life is far more complicated and often times far more difficult than anyone can imagine. He goes through the same ups and downs as we all do, and during those moments we are witnessed to the vulnerability of the man we know as fearless inside the cage. There are significant moments in Randy’s life that we all can relate to and he gives an inside look into the UFC and the Zuffa brass. There is a certain something about “Becoming the Natural” that will leave you unable to put the book down. The book is filled with so many insider accounts, that with each turn of the page, it gains momentum.
This book is a must read for any MMA fan, and Couture thanks fans of MMA for helping him find purpose in life. But this book goes far beyond that. Hunt and Couture have teamed up to tell the story of a man who fought for every inch inside and outside of the cage and stands by the decisions he makes. Even if you have never heard of Randy Couture, this story about the hardworking wrestler from Oregon who battled for everything his entire life is also for you. Couture’s incredible accomplishments have been documented for the world to see for years. Now his failures have been too.
And Couture freely admits, he only has himself to blame for both.