Over the last few years, the topic of retirement was a staple during many of Randy Couture's interviews.
Couture, 47, accomplished much during his mixed martial arts career. He was named to the Ultimate Fighting Championship's Hall of Fame in 2006 and won the promotion's light heavyweight and heavyweight titles multiple times.
Couture's answer typically became an issue of timing.
Last week, rumors abounded of Couture's intent to retire. Earlier this week, during a national teleconference to promote next Saturday's UFC 129 event in Toronto, Couture confirmed the news. His fight with former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at the event will be the last of his illustrious career.
"I kind of want to go out on my own terms and decide when enough is enough," Couture said. "I think that time has come. I had a great camp. Everything is spot on. I can't wait for next week. It's been a fight I've been looking forward to for a long time, and it's finally going to happen. I think it's time to focus on the other things I have going on in my life after this fight. I pushed it pretty far, and I don't think anybody's going to probably push it as far as I have the last 14 years."
Couture will resume his acting career after the Machida fight, with a role planned in the Sylvester Stallone-led "The Expendables 2.'' He stressed his decision is about his desire to move on and not dictated by a reduction in ability or injury.
"That wasn't really a factor," Couture said. "That was one of the things I struggled with. I am as healthy as ever. I feel great. I absolutely have the ability to continue to compete and compete at this level. But I feel like I stretched it, pushed it. I don't want to wait until I have those issues to think about and weigh into training camp or to weigh into a fight.
"I'm going out on my terms. I have a whole bunch of other things that I enjoy doing in my life. I don't want to wait until I have that injury and have doctors telling me, 'He can't fight anymore.' I know that could affect all the other things I like to do. I like to hunt. I like to ride my bike. I like to do a lot of other things. I'm healthy, and I want to enjoy my life right now. I don't want to wait too long."
While Couture's announcement looms large over UFC 129, the hype surrounding the main event, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre vs. top contender Jake Shields, continues to drive the card.
For much of the past three months, fighters from both Strikeforce and the UFC were peppered with random questions about the fight, and many have been quick to voice their opinion.
St-Pierre, who has won eight consecutive fights, is widely acknowledged as the world's top welterweight. Shields, a winner of his past 15 fights and the former Elite XC welterweight champion and former Strikeforce middleweight champion, can vault into the top spot with a victory.
"I think if there's anybody out there that can give GSP a good fight, I think Jake Shields might be the man," former UFC welterweight champion B.J. Penn said. "When you look at him, you don't think much. When you see him fight, you don't think much. But he goes out there and wins.
"He beat Dan Henderson. I know it's a different style, and styles make fights. But I think Dan Henderson would do really well with GSP if they were in the ring together. I honestly think it's a toss-up. You have GSP with great wrestling and the stand up, and Shields with the great wrestling and the jiu-jitsu. It's going to be a good fight."
Paul Daley, who lost to Shields in 2008, believes St-Pierre possesses a better overall skill set.
"Jake Shields is slightly more one-dimensional than Georges St-Pierre," he said. "If Georges St-Pierre can keep the fight standing, then I think Georges St-Pierre has a high chance of winning the fight. I don't doubt that Georges St-Pierre is going to try to take Jake down as well and try to do some damage from top position, but I feel that we could be in for an upset."