Update: Couture Talks UFC Resignation
By Josh Gross
[10/11/2007] Randy Couture (Pictures), the face of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and one of mixed martial arts most revered fighters, notified the UFC via fax from South Africa at 11 o'clock Thursday morning that he has chosen to resign from the UFC, "The Natural" confirmed with Sherdog.com.
"I sent the letter of resignation to the UFC today, resigning not only from my position in the company as a commentator and as an ambassador, but also as the heavyweight champion," Couture said over the phone from South Africa, where he is currently filming a movie.
"The motivation for the decision is two-fold," he continued. "I know Fedor (Emelianenko) just signed with another organization and that's the only real fight that makes sense for me at 44 years old as the heavyweight champion of the UFC. That's the fight I wanted and if that can't happen it doesn't make sense for me to compete with all these other guys. And then obviously that's not going to happen now. And, two, I'm tired of being taken advantage of, played as the nice guy and basically swimming against the current with the management of the UFC. I have a lot of other things going on in my life that I'm doing just fine with. I don't need the problems. I don't feel like I get the respect I deserve from the organization, and that's motivation No. 2 for the letter of resignation that was sent today."
Couture (16-8) is the only fighter in UFC history to hold belts in two weight divisions. The current UFC heavyweight champion, he recaptured the belt in March by coming out of retirement to out-point Tim Sylvia (Pictures). Couture defended the title in August, stopping challenger Gabriel Gonzaga (Pictures) in the third round.
The Sylvia win came after a year away from the sport after Couture suffered the second of two knockouts to then UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell (Pictures). Couture won the first bout in the trilogy by capturing an interim UFC light heavyweight title in June of 2003, stopping Liddell in the third period.
Couture's ledger in the UFC reads like a who's who. "The Natural" first captured UFC heavyweight gold against Maurice Smith (Pictures) in 1997 before doing it for the third time against Sylvia in 2007.
A day after news broke that Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures), the widely regarded top heavyweight in the sport, had apparently declined to sign with the UFC, Couture submitted his resignation.
"I want that fight and would have waited if the fight was offered to me," Couture said. "Knowing what they offered him, I would have made demands to get paid equally or better than him as the champion. Whether or not those would have been met is another question."
"I'm not surprised at all by Randy's decision," UFC president Dana White said in a statement published on UFC.com. "I talked to Randy several weeks ago and he said that if he couldn't fight Fedor, then he has nothing left to prove in the sport of mixed martial arts."
According to Couture, nine months remain on his current UFC deal. However, White said Couture "is still under contract with me, and I'm ready to promote him" if he chooses to fight again."
"As we all know, Randy retired before," White said. "The landscape in MMA changes every day."
Until he is in a position to fight Emelianenko, said Couture, he will concentrate on acting, franchising Xtreme Couture training facilities, and expanding the Xtreme Couture clothing line.
His success outside the ring is proof of his success inside the Octagon. But Couture said it was a lack of respect by the UFC, in particular its president Dana White, that led him to resigning.
"I think the final straw for me was meeting with Dana and Lorenzo (Fertitta, UFC co-owner) where they claimed I was the No. 2 paid athlete in the organization, which I know is a bold-faced lie," Couture said. Polling other athletes, said Couture, he learned that his compensation -- some $250,000 a fight with pay-per-view bonuses, according to the Couture camp -- was nowhere near what other top UFC fighters were making.
"All us athletes are all pretty tightly intertwined," he said. "You hear what other guys were paid signing bonuses and what other guys were paid on the record and off the record with bonuses. I've heard Chuck's numbers. Tito's numbers. Hughes' numbers. Quinton's numbers. Cro Cop, Wanderlei. I heard what they were offering Fedor, and it's insulting."
Couture's rocky history with the Zuffa-owned UFC began in 2001.
"I think what set us off on the wrong foot was that my management [at the time] wasn't willing to give up ancillary rights across the board with no option for some sort of compensation," said Couture, alluding to a reason cited by Emelianenko's representatives as to why the Russian did not end up with the UFC. "All the other athletes at that time were signing those contracts. That created a lot of animosity and got me pulled out of the Carmen Electra campaigns to promote the athletes and the sport and the video game and all that stuff."
Beyond the money, both Couture and his wife Kim stressed Thursday's resignation from the UFC was about respect. It's a move "The Natural" acknowledged could have far-reaching effects.
"Certainly there's personal motivation for resigning and taking a stand for myself," he said. "If it sets a precedence that down the road requires athletes to be treated better then that's the icing on the cake.
I still dont see how they have Fedor ranked as #1. Absolute BS.
Oh well.. Was a good run by Randy. Now it looks like title will be up between sylvia and vera. Looks like maybe little timmy gonna get his belt back.
Strange how all this works out.
THIS IS GREAT NEWS!!!
HE IS NOT, I REPEAT NOT RETIRING!!!!
He's going to fight Fedor in M-1 or whatever and wanted to get out of his contract for that fight, that's all.
For UFC 76:
Keith Jardine ($14,000) def. Chuck Liddell ($500,000)
Forrest Griffin ($44,000) def. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua ($150,000)
Jon Fitch ($44,000) def. Diego Sanchez ($22,000)
Lyoto Machida ($50,000) def. Kazuhiro Nakamura ($20,000)
Tyson Griffin ($24,000) def. Thiago Tavares ($9,000)
Rich Clementi ($24,000) def. Anthony Johnson ($5,000)
Jeremy Stephens ($6,000) def. Diego Saraiva ($3,000)
Christian Wellisch ($14,000) def. Scott Junk ($4,000)
Matt Wiman ($16,000) def. Michihiro Omigawa ($5,000
Fedor is undisputed #1.....he's undefeated and had proven himself against tougher competition than Randy.
BTW, you forgot Nogueira as a contender for the belt.
I forgot nothing.. What you dont realize is that Tim still has a rematch clause. I imagine that they will want the belt occupied soon so that Nog can fight for it. Nog didnt look at all impressive versus Heath Herring. So, I would imagine it would make for a smart business decision for the belt to goto the winner of timmy/brandon and then have nog fight the winner of that. I kinda wanna see Nog fight Kongo first.. I guess we will see what happens..
It is funny how the pride fighters just havent had a good showing at all in the UFC at this point. Always been a huge fan of the pride fighters and now I question since there was zero testing in Japan if these fighters have been roiding out and now that they are under scrutiny just cant deliver what they brought to the table in Japan. Fedor going to M1, will lose his undisputed #1 ranking as when you fight cans you prove nothing.
I seem to remember alot of the people here constantly going on about how UFC sucked and how Pride fighters would kick all their asses.