Ever since Randy Couture showed James Toney the finer points of the ground game, he’s mentioned in several interviews that he’s just going to “fade away” rather than announce a retirement, but he didn’t know when. He might have one more fight. He might have three, but the one thing he swore he wasn’t going to do is become the “Brett Favre of MMA” by jumping in and out of retirement.

Well, it seems Couture has had a change of heart, because he’s quoted telling ESPN’s Josh Gross that he thinks his upcoming fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 is his last.

“I believe this is my last fight,” Couture told ESPN.com on Monday. “I know the UFC is probably going to have other ideas, especially with acquiring Strikeforce and all that. They’re probably going to try to draw me into another fight but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I want to stick to my guns and this is the last one.”

“I will miss the competition immensely but I want to go out on my terms,” Couture said. “I want to go out when I think it’s time to go out and not because I lost this fight or lost that fight or because I had an injury that precludes me from training the way I want to train.

“I want to make the decision on my own.”

Couture didn’t give any reasons for the sudden change in tune. Perhaps this training camp is taking too much of a toll on his aging body? Maybe his acting career is picking up? I don’t know, but it’s probably about that time. The question of course is if he’ll actually “stick to his guns” this time. Offer him Fedor and I bet he would take it.

Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog

Update: Randy Couture reiterated on the UFC 129 conference call today that he is retiring after UFC 129 and offered an explanation why this time is different.

“I think these are different circumstances,” Couture said about his previous retirement attempt. “I went through an awful divorce. A lot of things stacked up. I needed a break to get the dust settled. Then I needed to get back to training. There are a lot of different circumstances.

“Now, my life is going fantastic. I’m coming off three victories. It’s the right time for me to leave with my head up, and go out with this competition. It’s my 30th fight in 14 years. It’s time to focus on other things in my life and enjoy my life.”

“There’s no real reason [why I made the announcement now],” Couture said. “Somebody asked me and I answered the question honestly, and I think once the cat’s out of the bag, it’s out of the bag.”