When Kim Couture faces Lina Kvokov at Strikeforce: Destruction this Friday, it will have been five months and a day since she made her professional MMA debut.
At this point, it's hard to imagine anything shocking her inside the cage, considering the first few seconds of her bout with Kim Rose at "Night of Combat" on June 20. Rose's first overhand right shattered Couture's jaw in two places, sidelining her for four months while she awaited a doctor's clearance to fight.
In early October, she learned about an opportunity to fight again through HDNet Fights CEO Andrew Simon.
"Five weeks ago when I got approached with this fight, I went to the doctor and asked if I could be released, and he checked everything, and I got the a-okay to start sparring," she told MMAWeekly.com in a recent video interview. "So I've been sparring ever since."
The metal plate used to help Couture's jaw heal properly will still be in place when she fights on Friday, but apparently won't impede her performance.
Before sparring, she had been working with her strength and conditioning coach and practicing jiu-jitsu, that and a lot of golf.
"I'm just fortunate to get cleared and get back in there," she said. "I think everybody took that break and took that loss harder than I did."
She knows little about her opponent, Kvokov. In the absence of tape to pore over, her gameplan isn't rigidly defined. But judging from the way she hits pads at Xtreme Couture, it's probably geared towards striking. Her punches and knees are sharp; they land with a loud slap that adds to the din of other slaps in the converted warehouse space.
Couture has the pick of the litter when it comes to trainers at the gym, and says they've taken her to the next level in her evolution as a fighter.
"I think it's the combination of trainers that I've found right now that really fit together nicely," she said. "Ray Sefo and Gil Martinez, the footwork that they've been having me do, putting my kicks together with my boxing, has been fantastic. I always do my jiu-jitsu with Robert Drysdale, and he's amazing. Randy does my wrestling, and that's always fun. I just feel like everything's coming together right now."
Combined with her other pursuits, fighting remains a hobby to Couture. She plans to promote up to six more MMA events in 2009. If she can squeeze a few fights in between, all the better.
"I thought it was good for me," Couture said of the layoff. "I feel like it's changed me inside, and I feel really focused and excited.