He grew up following his father’s MMA career, but Ryan Couture said he would never compete in the sport that made his father a household name. Now, Ryan Couture, son of Randy “The Natural” Couture, is on the eve of his second profession fight.

Couture’s debut last year at Strikeforce Challengers 10 was a success. He was able to utilize his wrestling background and score a quick first round submission victory over Lucas Stark (2-5).

Now, Couture will see how he fares against an opponent whose wins have all come by way of submission. No matter what, Couture says that fans can expect to see some pretty slick transitions from two pretty good grapplers.

This Friday, Feb. 18, Couture will face Lee Higgins (2-0) at Strikeforce Challengers 14, LIVE on Showtime.

ProMMAnow.com’s (www.prommanow.com) Josh Cross caught up with Ryan Couture this week to talk about his upcoming fight at Strikeforce Challengers 14. Couture talked about how he expects to win the fight, if his dad will be in his corner, how he got into MMA and just how long he plans on staying with Strikeforce.

PRO MMA NOW: How long have you been training for this fight, and when did you find out about it?

RYAN COUTURE: I’ve been training since right after the first of the year. That’s when I started my training camp and I knew it would be somewhere in the ballpark of this week or next week just like a week or so before New Years.

PRO MMA NOW: Can you talk about your training camp and who you’ve been working with?

RYAN COUTURE: For my last couple of fights I’ve been training with Neil Melanson for my submission game and then going to the pro training sessions at Xtreme Couture for sparring and everything, so I’ve ended up working with Ron Frazier and Brian Keck and Gil Martinez also. As always for this fight I have been focused on trying to be as well rounded as I can and just get better in every area. My submissions have always been kind of my go-to, but I’m trying to round that out and become a threat standing and everywhere else.

Ryan Couture submits Lucas Stark in his Strikeforce debut. Photo credit: Esther Lin

PRO MMA NOW: What is your game plan going into this fight?

RYAN COUTURE: I think I’ll have the biggest advantage in this fight as long as it’s standing.  Lee doesn’t seem to be terribly comfortable throwing hands, although that could have changed since his last fight. But from the footage I’ve seen on him he kind of likes to bide his time, look for the takedown and then work from the top. So my biggest thing is I just want to make sure that I don’t give him a dominant position. He’s shown to be particularly dangerous especially if he gets your back. That’s how both of his previous pro wins have come and they’ve come pretty quickly. So I just want to stay patient and look for openings and try to find my advantage on the feet and then if it goes to the ground just grapple intelligently and not give up any position because I know it’s going to be tough to get back.

PRO MMA NOW: If the fight does go to the ground though, you’ll still feel pretty comfortable there?

RYAN COUTURE: Oh, absolutely.  That’s where I’ve spent the majority of my time from wrestling in high school and such through Jiu-Jitsu, which is what I first got into when I first started training for this sport. No, I’m not remotely scared to grapple with Lee. I just think that gives him his best chance since that’s where he is strongest. I’d rather take the fight where I feel I have the bigger advantage but most of my fights end up on the ground and I’m totally okay with that. I think I can win the fight there too.

PRO MMA NOW: Knowing that you feel that you can win the fight on the ground, is there any specific way that you see the fight ending?

RYAN COUTURE: I think if either of us makes a mistake and gives up his back, the fight will probably end there.  He’s obviously proven that he is a good finisher from there and that is one of my best positions as well. Beyond that  I don’t really have any predictions.

PRO MMA NOW:  What can fans watching your fight expect to see Friday night?

RYAN COUTURE: I think it’s going to be a good fight. I think we’ll get right down to action. I think especially once the fight hits the ground you’re going to see some slick transitions because we’re both pretty good grapplers, and look for a finish one way or another.

PRO MMA NOW: This is your second professional fight. Are nerves ever an issue for you?

RYAN COUTURE: You always have to manage some nerves. Some of it is just excitement and you’re so eager to get in there after all the hard work, so you’ve got to keep that under control. Doubt always tries to creep in so you have to keep that out and stay confident in the training that you’ve done and the preparation that you’ve put in and know that things are going to go well.

PRO MMA NOW: Do you feel any added pressure having the last name Couture?

RYAN COUTURE: It definitely adds a lot of expectation and puts a lot more eyes on me. Obviously if it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t be fighting on the televised card on Showtime in my second pro fight. It definitely ups the stakes and there is a little extra pressure that comes along with that. The most pressure that I feel is just the pressure that I put on myself to live up to the training that I’m capable of and to execute on fight night the way that I know that I can.

PRO MMA NOW: Your Dad was in your corner for your last fight. Is he going to be able to be in your corner for this one?

RYAN COUTURE: Yep. He’s flying out Friday. He’s been in L.A. shooting a movie but they are giving him a break for the night to come out and be there for the fight so I plan to have him in my corner again this time.

PRO MMA NOW: What is it like having your dad be in your corner during one of your fights?

Ryan Couture with Xtreme Couture boxing coach Ron Frazier and his father Randy Couture.

RYAN COUTRUE: It’s great. He’s got so much experience so he’s a very calming presence in the corner. Then, obviously having someone with that much experience and perspective to draw on if we need to make adjustments during the fight. He’s always got good insight.

PRO MMA NOW: Is competing in MMA always something that you have wanted to do?

RYAN COUTURE: For years it was something that I said I would never do. I was always a fan. I always enjoyed following Dad’s career. Then as that grew and when the sport started to blowup, I just became a bigger and bigger fan of MMA in general. It really got the point where I was following it closely and knew every fight that was coming up. I always just considered myself a spectator. I didn’t think I would get back into athletics after high school. I was kind of burnt out on wrestling when I finished that, I just focused on my social life and academics when I got into college. A little bit after I graduated college I started trying to get back in shape, and I just happened to run into some friends from back in my wrestling days that were dabbling in Jiu-Jitsu on the weekends. I just started going and rolling with them and kind of caught the bug to get back into that sort of training. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I was training kickboxing and full MMA as well. I had been doing that for about a year when Dad gave me the opportunity to come to work for Xtreme Couture and relocate to Vegas. That obviously stepped my training up to the next level, being in such a world-class facility. So I decided that I sort of owed it to myself to try and fight and see how I liked it. I’d always been curious if I had the stomach for it, and after the first time I competed and got that first win I was hooked.

PRO MMA NOW: How did your Dad react when you told him you wanted to start fighting?

RYAN COUTURE: He has always been very supportive of whatever decision I made as far as what I wanted to do. Obviously, I think because it is something that is so near and dear to his heart, he was extra excited when I started fighting. He does a good job of kind of hiding it and not trying to influence me or pressure me one way or the other. Even when it comes down to just day-to-day advice or anything about how I’m approaching the sport, he really leaves me to make my own decisions and then if I want his insight or his help I ask him and he is more than happy to help.

PRO MMA NOW: Moving beyond this fight, where do you see yourself in the sport in the future?

RYAN COUTURE: I’m still a beginner really to the sport so I just want to continue to take fights that make sense, to help me progress as a fighter and reach those next levels as they come.  I just want to keep climbing the ladder and eventually find my way on to the main Strikeforce shows and work my way into title contention over the course of the next few years.

PRO MMA NOW: Could you see yourself fighting with the UFC at some point?

RYAN COUTURE: I’m really happy fighting for Strikeforce. They’ve been really good to me. They’re great to work with and there are plenty of challenges ahead of me so I don’t have any reason to consider jumping ship anytime in the near future.

Ryan Couture with an armbar at Tuff-N-Uff.

PRO MMA NOW: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

RYAN COUTURE: As always I want to thank my team at Xtreme Couture and my management team, Xtreme Couture Management. They are the ones who kind of make all this possible and line all this up and get me ready to show up and do what I do.

PRO MMA NOW: What would be the best way for fans to keep up with what you have coming up in the future?

RYAN COUTURE: They can look for me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (@RyanDCouture). I’m on those pretty much every day.

Strikeforce Challengers 14 will air live on Showtime Friday, Feb. 18 at 11 p.m. ET/PT from the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, Texas. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com, as well as the Cedar Park Center box office.

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