Ryan Couture returns to the cage at Bellator 162 next week to take on Goiti Yamauchi. Fighters Only caught up with the Las Vegas lightweight to find out what kind of shape he’s in before departing for Memphis.

Q. How do you see your fight with Yamauchi playing out once the cage door shuts next Friday night?

A. My plan is definitely to make this a ground fight. I’m really looking forward to testing myself against a grappler of Goiti’s caliber. That said, I have confidence in my striking and his striking is really solid as well. But I’m feeling well prepared to take the fight to him wherever it plays out.

Q. Most of Yamauchi’s wins have come via submission, 11 via rear naked choke. I can assume you will be taking The Wu-Tang Clan’s advice and protecting your neck? 

A. He definitely loves his back attack and is quick to jump on any opportunity to go there. Luckily, I have a few guys here on my team who are great there too and have given me plenty of practice in case I find myself in a bad position.

Q. When you are preparing for a big fight like this how do you manage yur responsibilities at Xtreme Couture?

A. As the fight gets closer, training camp becomes my priority whether I want it to or not. This sport is all-consuming and really doesn’t leave room for distractions if you’re approaching it the right way. I’m so grateful for the fantastic crew at XCMMA who are picking up my slack while I focus on this fight.

Q. Speaking of the gym, you recently had your first BJJ seminar. How did that go?

A. The seminar with Chris Haueter was a huge success. We got a big turnout even though it came together on pretty short notice and everyone had a blast. Chris is a phenomenal teacher and one of the most colorful characters I’ve run into in my years in the sport, which is no small feat. I couldn’t be happier with the way coaches Follis and Davis have grown our BJJ program this year.

Q. How does your wife feel about leaving lovely Vegas and heading to the south to support you in this scrap?

A. Emily is always anxious about traveling and even more so when there’s a fight waiting at the end, but she’s looking forward to spending time in Memphis. We’re staying an extra day so I can gorge on BBQ and take her to Graceland to make up for a trip she took there years ago that didn’t go at all according to plan.

Q. Where do you stand in the division with a win over Yamauchi next weekend? What’s next? 

A. I’m not sure exactly where this will put me in the rankings since he’s moving up from featherweight for the first time. But a win over a tough opponent is never a bad thing. What’s most important is that I go out and perform to the level I know I’m capable of. If I can do that, I’ll be right back in the mix and feeling confident heading into whatever matchup Bellator thinks is best.