Randy "The Natural" Couture will make his 24th and final UFC appearance at UFC 129 on April 30, 2011.

Forty-seven-year-old UFC Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture (19-10) will face off with Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida at UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 30, in what will be “The Natural’s” final fight.

The three-time former heavyweight champion and two-time light heavyweight champion has had a remarkable professional mixed martial arts career, but has decided it is time to focus on the other, maybe less dangerous aspects of his life.

UFC 129 seems to be an appropriate card for Couture to retire on. It will mark the UFC’s first-ever fight card held in a stadium, and with over 55,000 fans in attendance, it will be the largest live gate in UFC history.

Couture explained on a UFC 129 media conference call Tuesday why this was the right time for him to retire:

“It’s been an ongoing transition for me. Kinda want to go out on my own terms and decide when enough is enough, and I think that time has come. I’ve had a great camp, everything is spot on, I can’t wait til’ next week, it’s been a fight I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and it’s finally going to happen. It’s time to focus on the other things I’ve got going on in my life after this fight, and I’ve pushed it pretty far, I don’t think anybody has ever probably pushed it as far as I have the last 14 years.”

Couture is right about no one pushing it as far as he has. There is no one in the sport even remotely close to his age who is competing at his level. Fans and pundits have half-joked that  Couture may still be fighting in the UFC at 50.

But it is only half a joke, because although he may be “The Natural”, he is anything but normal. There is little doubt that if it was what he wanted, Randy Couture could remain fighting at the UFC level for several more years.

Couture did retire one time before, back in 2006 after his third fight with Chuck Liddell. He says the circumstances are much different now though. Back then he was going through a divorce, he had just lost the fight with Liddell and said he needed a break.

Now though, Couture has had three straight wins, his acting career has taken off, and he insists he is happy, things are going really well and it is just time to move on. He did say he would like to stay involved with Zuffa, whether it be with commentating, on the political front or in some other manner.

After 14 years of blood, bumps and bruises, entertaining the fans and helping grow the sport, if anyone deserves to be able to kick back and enjoy his life it is Randy Couture. Thank you Captain America!

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