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Randy Couture -- From the Octagon to the Poker Table

MMA Fighter Stops by Card Player TV to Talk Poker and Punches


Randy Couture - Photo Courtesy of David ShankboneRandy Couture is a bad man — at least, in an MMA cage.

But the notorious fighter shows his softer side in this week’s episode of The Scoop on Card Player TV, as he talks about the charity poker tournament he’s hosting and the people it will benefit.

On Aug. 22 at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Couture will host the Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation, which raises money and awareness for troops wounded in action. The event, named Operation All In, is coming back for the second straight year and promises to be a hit with several MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters in attendance, such as Dan Henderson, Stephan Bonnar, Frank Trigg, and Phil Baroni. Poker pros scheduled to attend include Todd Brunson, Lee Watkinson, Chip Jett, David Williams, Adam Schoenfeld, and Robert Williamson III.

So, what does fighting have to do with poker? Couture and The Scoop’s hosts, Adam Schoenfeld and Diego Cordovez, discuss some of the similarities between the two sports in this episode, from how rapidly they have expanded over the past decade to the problems they both face.

“I think there are some parallels between poker [and MMA],” said Couture, a relative newcomer to the game of poker who is now starting to appreciate the intense level of skill that poker requires — a shared trait it has with MMA, in his opinion. “Now I see that there is a whole lot more going on [in poker] than people realize. I think there is a similar parallel with our sport, as well.”

For the past few years, several fighters have accepted partial sponsorship from online poker sites. Much like poker, MMA fights take place around the world at various locations, usually casinos. The city of Las Vegas has always yearned for a professional sports team to call its own, but for the time being, poker and MMA have filled the sports void, giving fans of each more opportunities to get their fix, and even join in on the action.

Rami BoukaiIn fact, the MMA world can even claim its very own World Series of Poker bracelet. This summer, Rami “arbianight” Boukai took down event No. 10, pot-limit hold’em/Omaha, for $244,862. The San Diego resident spent years training and competing in mixed martial arts, and even fought famed WEC fighter Urijah Faber before moving on to poker. It’s been four years since he stopped working on his takedown defense in order to defend his blinds, but the move has worked out profitably to the tune of nearly $1 million in career earnings.

Couture’s charity tournament features a $330 buy-in with $100 rebuys and will give away a $10,000 seat to the Sports Legend Challenge, a poker tournament that takes place in the Bahamas this September. The lucky player who picks up that prize package will get the chance to rub elbows with the likes of Troy Aikman, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Chan, Jamie Gold, and Annie Duke, to be aired on TV on Fox Sports Net.

Couture has served in the army himself, in the 101st Airborne Division.

“Having spent time in a uniform, it became a personal goal of mine to find a way to give back to the brave men and women of our armed forces for the sacrifices they make defending our freedoms,” said Couture. “We hope you’ll come join us for a great night, and rub elbows with some of the best fighters and poker players on the planet, all in the name of our troops.”

Couture is widely credited as one of the most popular fighters in MMA history and is a member of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hall of fame. Couture helped put MMA and the UFC on the map during the early years and was a driving force behind its rapid growth in the mainstream.

He is the only five-time champion in UFC history, and along with B.J. Penn, is the only other fighter to hold a championship title in two different divisions (heavyweight and light heavyweight). Despite a few retirements, Couture is once again fighting and is scheduled to enter the octagon against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on Aug. 29 in Portland, Oregon.

Check out the episode below.