It seemed odd this morning when the UFC 77 teleconference started nearly 25 minutes late. The conference was also highlighted by a very terse Dana White. Maybe that’s what had him in a bad mood. You can find the audio here…where he snapped at the first question.

UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture has quit the promotion and it sounds like there is a lot of bitterness. Great job by tracking down these quotes.

“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.”

“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.”

Couture will have to wait nine months for his current UFC deal to lapse before he can go after Emelianenko. Over that span Couture said he will concentrate on acting, continuing to franchise his Xtreme Couture training facilities, as well as growing his 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 White 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 stand for myself,” he said. “If it sets a precedence that down the road requires athletes to be treated better than that’s icing on the cake.”

This is a big deal for MMA. It calls into question some of UFC’s business practices. Couture seems like a tough guy to piss off and by the sounds of it, he’s livid. It also may sound the call for a fighter union. If one of the biggest names in the history of the sport, is speaking out on salary…maybe some others will be emboldened join his effort.

Most importantly, this sets up a potential fight with MMA’s recognized pound-for-pound champ Fedor v. Couture, but with a different promotion. That will be the biggest fight in MMA history and could do wonders for competing promotions.

UFC has done a solid job this year of nearly snuffing out all competition but this is clearly a big blow.

Explore posts in the same categories: MMA, UFC


  1. […] The Gossip Girls at (c) wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt“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.” … […]

  2. MMA Game Says:

    This is crazy, crazy business.

    Here’s my thoughts –

    cheeky to post I know but feel free to post links in my blog whenever you like!

  3. […] Steve Cofield: Now we know why Dana White was in a bad mood for the UFC 77 conference call […]

  4. Anonymous Says:

    dana white needs a reason to be moody and temperamental? since when?

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