Randy Couture is a mixed-martial arts icon and UFC Hall of Famer who has brawled his way to five world titles and is a big reason that UFC is the pop-culture phenomenon it is today. But if there’s one thing he wants you to take away from his appearance in Boca Raton on Sunday, it is that MMA is a lot more than punching a guy in the face.
“The sport is largely misunderstood. People assume that guys getting in a cage to beat each other have to be nuts. That they’re all criminals and thugs,” says Couture, once an alternate on the U.S. Olympic wrestling squad. “I want people to see behind the scenes, to see the dedication and the discipline that it takes.”
Speaking last week during a family visit in Oregon, the former Oklahoma State University wrestler says the industry has evolved dramatically since he joined it 15 years ago.
“A lot of the fighters are college-educated guys. The venues are safe and controlled, where we can go out and compete and test our skills,” he says with straightforward polish.
The fighters’ business and marketing savvy has evolved, as well. While the brawls are painfully real, he says, the macho posturing is more psychological gamesmanship than actual bad blood.
“With very few exceptions, there is very little actual animosity,” Couture says. “They are competitors, and they are always looking for a psychological edge. If I can play a little game that puts you in a certain emotional state, I’ve beaten you before we get in the cage.”
Couture will offer more insight into MMA when he brings his school of hard knocks to Florida Atlantic University for the Beyond the Cage fan expo, a day of seminars, hands-on instruction, photo and autograph sessions, MMA gear vendors and general hobnobbing from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
One of the highlights is a training session with Couture, who will teach wrestling, boxing and MMA submission techniques. He’s not exactly sure what form the session will take, but he typically involves audience members in his hands-on instruction.
“Someone has to be the throwing dummy,” he says with a laugh.
Couture, who retired from MMA in 2006 and turns 50 next June, is now involved in gyms that train a new generation of MMA enthusiasts, some as young as 6. His own son, Ryan, 30, who was a math major at Western Washington University, is now an up-and-coming MMA fighter.
He laughs when asked about the recent big-screen MMA comedy “Here Comes the Boom,” which starred his friends comic actor Kevin James and MMA legend Bas Rutten.
“It was very funny. I don’t know if it will help the sport become more acceptable, but it may help give people a clear understanding of the discipline it takes,” he says.
Couture, who uses Clint Eastwood as a role model, has appeared on screens big and small since his retirement, including the TV hit “Entourage” and big-screen tough-guy roles in “The Expendables” and its sequel. Next month, he’s set to start filming a feature titled “Rush,” playing a cop opposite Dolph Lundgren.
Tickets to Beyond the Cage cost $25 in advance, $35 at the door; seminars extra. Info: BTCMMAExpo.com, 561-226-7650.
Boynton Beach tattoo artist and model Lea Vendetta, recently featured on Spike TV’s “Ink Master” reality show, is out with a perfect holiday stocking stuffer: her sexy 2013 calendar. On Friday at 9 p.m. Vendetta will host a release party at Dada (52 Swinton Ave., Delray Beach; Sub-culture.org/dada), an event that includes a “Tattooed Beauties Contest.” The winner gets $500 and a tattoo-calendar photo shoot. To enter, send photos and contact info to email@example.com. You must be female, 18 or older, with at least one tattoo and able to attend the final judging on Friday. More info: LeasLounge.com.
Jacob Jeffries has been steadily widening the audience for his richly observed dispatches from that familiar crossroad of love and pain. Earlier this year, Jeffries and his eponymous band, all from the Plantation-Davie area, took their fourth studio album, “Tell Me Secrets,” and relocated in New York. But they are home for the holiday weekend, with a show on Friday at the Stage in Miami (170 NE 38th St., Miami; TheStageMiami.com, 305-576-9577) and a Sunday performance at the Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery (2621 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton; TheFunkyBuddha.com, 561-368-4643).
ICE, ICE BABY (SORT OF)
Holiday cheer returns to downtown Fort Lauderdale on Friday with the opening of the now-traditional synthetic ice rink on the Riverside Hotel lawn. The rink, a couple of hundred square feet larger than last year's edition, is also a centerpiece of the 50th annual Christmas on Las Olas party on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Through Jan. 6, each hour-long skate is $10, including skate rental. More info: SkateLasOlas.com.
This is the last weekend to take in the unique offerings at the Broward County Fair (have you heard about the wolf show?) in Pembroke Pines. The midway and animal shows are up through Sunday at the Pembroke Pines City Center (10300 Pines Blvd.). Tickets: $10. Info: 954-922-2224, BrowardCountyFair.com.
We like our ’80s as much as the next guy, but may have to draw the line at Men Without Hats. But you can dance if you want to Friday night at Grand Central (697 N. Miami Ave., Miami). Tickets: $15. Info: GrandCentralMiami.com, 305-377-2277.
We don’t really do the whole Black Friday thing, but we may actually do some shopping this weekend at the recently launched BobMarleyShop.com. The family-owned site is said to offer the largest selection of authentic Bob Marley merchandise in the world, along with apparel and accessories from his kids, Cedella, Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Ky-Mani and Damian. More info: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 904-425-4411.
OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Sure to become as much a part of the season as visions of sugarplums is a holiday show by Clay Aiken, who performs at 8 p.m. Friday at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach (Kravis.org) … Former GNR guitarist Gilby Clarke has nothing to do with the holidays Friday night at Seminole Coconut Creek Casino (SeminoleCoconutCreekCasino.com) … Sweat the rest of those sweet potatoes off Friday night with German electronics expert Boys Noize at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale (JointheRevolution.net) ... The elegant Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba brings this trio to NSU in Davie Saturday night (954-462-0222) … Suenalo brings a sweaty vibe to the Performing Arts Exchange in Little Havana on Saturday (PAXMiami.com) ... Ubiquitous rapper 2 Chainz is at the Fillmore Miami Beach on Monday (Fillmoremb.com) … Arty indie rockers Of Montreal hit the Stage in Miami on Wednesday (TheStageMiami.com) … Sultry Broadway chanteuse Idina Menzel is at the Kravis Wednesday night … Uncompromising comic-actor Louis C.K. does 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows on Wednesday at the Broward Center (Browardcenter.org). Brazilian Girls walk the carpet at Bardot (BardotMiami.com) next Thursday ...
Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at SouthFlorida.com and on Twitter at @BenCrandell.