Aftershocks From Couture’s Resignation Reach Far and Wide

Randy Couture’s announcement yesterday that he was resigning from the UFC and abdicating his throne as heavyweight champion has thrown the MMA world into a small-scale panic. Nobody wants to lose Couture, and nobody, at first, knew what to make of his decision to leave. I imagine the reaction by MMA fans was something like what our parents experienced when the Beatles broke up, with the two major differences being 1) we have the benefit of the internet to discuss it to death, and 2) only about half of us are stoned on grass.

At first, the wording of Couture’s official announcement sounded like he was moving on because the UFC had failed to sign Fedor Emelianenko and because he had other opportunities outside of fighting. But some subtle phrasing also suggested that he was unhappy with how he’d been treated by UFC management, and in an interview with yesterday, that issue was magnified:

“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 went on to say that the money being offered to other fighters, especially Fedor, was “insulting” considering what he was making for being a marquee draw:

“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.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Upon hearing this complaint, UFC president Dana White responded by blaming MMA web sites, ironically enough, during an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. Obviously, White is referring to sites like Sherdog, whose forum tends to break more news (and spread more rumors) than their actual news site. White apparently felt that these websites were more responsible for Couture’s resignation than the UFC management:

“He felt he was not getting paid as much as Mirko Cro Cop, as much as this guy and as much as that guy,” White said. “We told him he was our second-highest paid fighter, but he didn’t believe us. Chuck’s the only guy who makes more, but he kept hearing all these rumors and he wouldn’t believe us.

White then launched into a tirade against what he called “the rumor mongerers on the Internet,” whom he said are, “the lowest of the low.”

He said fighters read those sites and believe them to be true, causing friction at the negotiating table.

“This business is like a beauty salon,” he said. “These guys are all the toughest guys in the world, but they’re like (expletives) in a beauty salon. They pass along rumors and gossip, which has no basis in reality and they believe all the (rumors) they hear. The Internet is very powerful and one of the best promotional tools we have, but it’s a crazy place.”

I have to admit he’s right. The internet is a crazy place. It combines the lawlessness of the Wild West with the flashing lights of Vegas and the pornography of Times Square.

But let’s examine White’s beauty salon analogy for a moment. Notice how he says the fighters are like “expletives” in this metaphorical salon. Setting aside the observation that your swearing has become a problem when your analogies can’t be printed in full, what do you think he really said there? Customers? No, that’s not an expletive. Bitches? No, that’s only one expletive, not “expletives.” Fucking bitches? Possibly.

I guess only White and Iole know for sure, but we can safely draw this conclusion: whatever expletive he used to describe the fighters, it was derogatory and negative. And that seems like a big part of Couture’s complaint. He didn’t feel like he was getting the respect he deserved. After reading White’s explanation, I’m starting to see what he means.

Respect matters. The money matters too, for obvious reasons, but the money is also a way of showing respect. Couture was a huge draw for the UFC and a great ambassador for the sport. But if he didn’t feel he was being treated accordingly — if, for instance, he felt like his boss saw him as just another expletive in a beauty salon — he’s only going to put up with it for so long.

And White’s claim that MMA web sites exacerbated the problem also seems disingenuous. As someone who makes my living writing about MMA for internet sources, I’m on these sites everyday. Very rarely do I see actual figures named when talking about fighter salaries, and when those figures are named they almost always come from official athletic commission reports.

Of course, the UFC always claims their fighter payouts are much higher than what they report to the commissions, once bonuses and sponsorship money and everything else is added on. But they never say exactly what the final numbers are. Now White is complaining that fighters have a warped perception of those numbers thanks to internet speculation? If that’s the problem, why not disclose the numbers and end the rumors?

But the UFC obviously isn’t going to do that. It’s easier to blame the internet. Couture says he got his information about fighter salaries from the fighters themselves, and not the internet, which makes sense. It’s in the fighters’ best interests to tell one another what they’re being offered, and they do. The internet is not the problem. The money is the problem.

Still, this is about more than money. This is about respect, about treating MMA fighters like real athletes and not commodities or “products”, as White has referred to them in the past. Every organization should learn from this, and every fighter should be thanking Couture for making this stand and going public with his complaints. This is an issue that isn’t going away, nor should it.



Filed under Dana White, MMA, Randy Couture, Sports, UFC

34 responses to “Aftershocks From Couture’s Resignation Reach Far and Wide

  1. Dana White has lost his mind. Trashing Couture and his manager are no way to build your sport. He seems so petty when he blames everyone else and the internet for things like this.

  2. TylerDurgen

    I wish everyone would back off Dana White! None of this would’ve happened if Fedor was man enough to come to the UFC. As far as the respect thing goes, Dana has much respect for Randy Couture. I think the 2 are going to get together when Randy gets back and work it all out. I dont think we’ve seen the end of Randy Couture. People are blowing this thing way out of proportion. It’s only been one day, and people are talking about the downfall of the UFC. Get a fucking grip. Dana White is no idiot. This thing will be worked out.

  3. The Fighting Life

    Do you really think Fedor didn’t sign with the UFC because he wasn’t man enough? Dear God, I hope no one translates that remark for Fedor, or you could bee in trouble.

    Let’s not forget that this is the same guy who got spiked on his head by Randleman, got his nose broken by Cro Cop, and won both fights. Just like he won, you know, pretty much all his fights.

    Something to consider before you call his manhood into question.

  4. TylerDurgen, are you Dana’s mom or something? I mean, I wasn’t going to assume Dana White was the reason Randy Couture left until Randy came out and directly said it. White messed up the deal with Fedor and now he’s messed up this. The UFC wasn’t treating Couture with respect and so he left. I just wish some of the younger fighters had the means and courage to the the same until the UFC improves some of their policies.

    Dana White is a good business man, but he seems to have some major problems with hubris and it’s affecting his company.

    I do find it endearing that you think the two are going to get together and work things out… as if this were a lover’s quarrel. This is business, and Couture’s had enough.

    I’m just glad this means there’s a chance we can see Fedor-Couture in the future.

  5. TylerDurgen

    No, I am not Dana’s mom. But I do think he and the Fertitta brothers are the best thing that ever happened to mma. Everyone is bashing him, understandably, for the whole money and respect thing with Couture. That, I believe will be worked out. As for Fedor, he is overrated. Yea, I said it. Who has he beat? Matt Lindland? Lindland weighs a whopping 185. Mark Coleman? He’s 50 years old. I am not saying Fedor is not one of the best in the world, I am saying he is not #1 in my book until he fights the best. And the best are in the UFC, not M-1. Run tell dat!

  6. MMA Fan 222

    Randy Couture would obliterate Fedor. Hope it happens soon.

  7. dizzle

    Fedor didn’t sign with UFC because he wanted certain things that the UFC was against. Fedor is a russian fighter…and u must know that Russia is a country that takes fighting sports very serious. Just check the olympics and see how many russians come out with medals and you will understand.

    Dana white is out of control.

  8. Great post! Your officially added to my RSS feeds!

  9. Tyler Durgen

    Yea, I know. Dana wouldn’t let him compete in his sambo tournaments. Can you blame him? But I bet he’d do it different if he had it to do over. I am disappointed by this whole situation, but it would be worth it if a Fedor, Randy fight comes of it. I can just see next week’s headlines, “M-1 signs Randy Couture”

  10. Russel CroweCop

    dana white thinks hes popeye. look at the moron swearing like a sailor, shaving his head like hes bad ass. he even booked himself vs tito ortiz when he knew tito wasnt showing… this guy is a poser and kevin iole is his little bitch.

    dana blew the negotiations with fedor because he thinks hes god and can do whatever he wants.

    as for top competition, fedor has beaten the best. who has randy beaten? a slow Tim Sylvia who had a back injury, gonzaga after couture head butted him and broke his nose. couture was TKOd by Josh Barnett and retired by a LWH. Matt Lindland weighed 205 when they fought, not 185. and Fedor didnt hold the ropes, look it up on YouTube instead of spouting off what some Randy nut hugger says.

    as for kevin iole. that guy knows nothing about mma. hes a boxing reporter who was handed the mma job cuz yahoo cant tell the difference between boxing and mma. he say anything dana tells him to say including that randy retired when he never said a word about retirement. if he retired, then he’d still be the ambassador and ringside announcer. GET REAL

  11. Aidan742

    Tyler Durgen, your comments are akin to looking down and seeing a dog pissing on my ankle. It’s okay if you and the other pea-brains who comprise the Dana White clique wish to conduct yourself in that manner – but don’t denigrate the name and legacy of Fedor to feed your lopsided brain.

    Jeeez’us, even suggesting that Fedor dodged a fight with Randy highlights your weak, spineless, duplistic, pathetic ass.

    Crack, you’re under attack.

  12. Tyler Durgen

    Lindland might have weighed 205. Thanks for helping make my case…. Fedor beat a fat middleweight!

  13. Tyler Durgen

    Fedor really wants to prove he’s the best.. I agree, he’s awesome. That’s why he went to M-1

  14. Tyler Durgen

    To be honest, I like Fedor. I agree he’s a great fighter. Maybe the best. And i was really excited to see him fight against the best. But he chose to go to the M-1 mixed fights who noone has ever heard of. I dont understand that move at all. He’s the # 1 ranked heavyweight so he should have to fight legitimate contenders! Can anyone argue with that? You guys like ganging up on me on here, and thats fine. But, think about it. Who’s he gonna fight over there? He doesnt deserve all this respect, or his #1 status if hes just going to continue taking fights with guys like Mark Coleman. Argue that all you want, but it’s the damn truth, and any idiot can see it.

  15. Aptninja

    I appreciate your “idiots will agree with me,” argument, but I don’t understand why Fedor signing with a fight promotion I’ve never heard of should make me respect him less. Yes, opponents like Mark Coleman and Matt Lindland are not a fitting challenge for Fedor, but he’s still _beating_ those guys. Until you can show me some evidence of a hole in his game — takedown defense, striking, ground, wherever — I’m going to say Fedor is the best heavyweight going, whether he’s beating hell out of novice opponents or beating hell out of, um, Gabriel Gonzaga. He went to M1 because they’ll let him fight sambo tournaments, right? It seems like a silly thing for UFC to quibble over, but it doesn’t seem like an excuse to hide from skilled opponents. Props to Couture, but has he beaten anyone more impressive than Coleman and Lindland in the last year, either?

  16. Russ00

    Tyler! Answer me this who has beaten Fedor! Not Cro-cop,Nogueria,Randlman or Fujita. Are these guys not top teir fighter’s, ya he hasn’t fought in the last year why is that b/c Dana and his boys bought out the company he fights in so what’s he going to do but take the fights he can. It’s too bad that Lindland had to be the only one with the stones to challenge him. When the UFC bought Pride it should have been to get Fedor period. But Dana’s ego couldn’t get him, he may not ruin the UFC anytime soon but the ego will break the company one day, mark my words.

  17. Great Article!

    Keep Up the good work

    Dan Magnie

  18. Putt

    The UFC decision that would not allow Fedor to fight in Sambo tournaments is a standard business practice that is followed in many sporting organizations. The NFL, NHL, NBA and even MLB all have similar statements with the players that ban them from doing such cross-over events, or other sporting activities that may cause harm or dilute the product of the sport. There are multiple examples of this sort of acitivites being banned. The most recent is with Pacman Jones wanting to fight in a Wrestling show, the Tenn. Titans sought a court injunction to stop him from fighting. Sure there are some exceptions but if you allow one guy to compete in different areas of fighting you are taking a chance that your talent will become diluted or severely injured which would hinder the best interests of your business.

  19. I would not doubt for one second that the UFC is straight up RAPING its fighters. If the number one guy is complaining about money and respect, there must be a huge problem with the way things are being managed. I LOVE what the UFC provides me but at the same time, I am disheartened to hear Randy bring these issues to light.

    For as much pain as any UFC fighter must goe through to get to the big show, I would sincerely hope they are compensated well for their efforts (win or lose).

  20. MMAFAN

    The sad thing here is that everyone’s looking for someone to blame. Even the writer of this article is looking to blame someone for Randy’s decision. Since Dana White is the only one who’s come out and said anything about it, Dana gets all the blame. What if Frank or Lorenzo had made the statement? Everyone would be blaming Frank and Lorenzo.

    Dana White does NOT deserve this public lashing he’s getting. He’s a relatively young business man who is running a multi-million dollar business, and anyone who’s anyone knows that when you run the type of business he’s running, where human beings are your bread and butter, those human beings are commodities. They are the product he’s selling.

    Naturally friendships form, it’s the human thing to do when you spend that much time with someone, and it’s equally human to have disagreements and part ways, and that’s just what’s happened here.

    Dana and Zuffa will go on running their business, selling their commodities, and the fans, the true fans of MMA, will continue to soak it up.

    Dana thanks the fighters for getting the sport to where it is. We should all be THANKING Dana for getting the sport to where it is.

  21. The legacy of Randy Couture is going to stand the test of time. He has defeated many great men, and would of SMASHED a man that ran to a no name brand of competition !!!
    Fedor…call him the best heavyweight all you want, nobody will remember him when he is all done and dusted…except as the man that ran from Randy Couture, and you idiots claimed, to be the better MMA heavywieght !!!
    Long live the legacy of the “NATURAL”.

  22. Randy Couture is the modern, real life MMA version of ROCKY BALBOA. To lose this man out of our sport is a great shame !!!
    Fedor…not half the fighter, not half the man, and never going to be remembered, as we shall all remember and cherish the “natural” and his time in the octagon.
    Claims to rank Fedor over Couture is simply not logical or accurate…WAKE UP !!!

  23. Chaz

    For me you only need look at the person that is Randy Couture. An honest well mannered guy who respects everyone. If he says that he is not getting respect from the UFC then it must be true. Dana White has done a great job getting MMA out there but is in danger of becoming someone people dont trust. I am not saying that he is untrust worthy just that is going to be the impression unless he sorts this out and gets Fedor from M1 and pays Randy and other fighters what they have earned in the toughest sport on earth. Its not like the UFC is short of money.

    a bit like what has happened in Boxing and we have had some funny decisions of late.

  24. Russ00

    Just stop kidding yourselves thinking Randy would beat Fedor. Since his comback who has Randy beat Tim Sylvia, there’s an opponent and how devestating was he against Sylvia, besides the one punch in the first round the rest of the fight was boring. Then Gonzaga if Randy didn’t use dirty boxing and break his nose with the fall that fight would have been the same just fight five rounds to get points and not knock anyone out. I don’t want to take anything away from Randy but he’s a smart fighter with no plans to finish his opponents.
    Fedor on the other hand fights anyone they put before him and he does what Randy doesn’t that is finish them not let it go to the judges.

    I think it’s because you people have branded him the real American Hero and therefore he can’t be beaten, give your heads a shake and look at the fights, Fedor knocks guys outs or submits them, Randy jabs and tries to score points. Your American Hero would lose and lose badly.

  25. big kev

    It will all become clear when Dana starts weraring his hair like Don King whom obviously is his mentor…what a twit…….

  26. Peter x.fighter

    I understand why Randy left UFC… Because it’s a rotten organisation. Of course Fedor don’t want to join UFC, because they pay less than M1 and they treat many of their fighters with no respect. I hope all fighters leave UFC and start their own new organisation so that 75% of the money ends up in the fighters pockets instead to feed people like Dana W. Time for a change…

  27. tyler gale

    FEDOR is a punk ass bitch…like WTF everybody weter they admit it or not knows that Couture would hand fedor’s ass on a fuckin silver platter…the only reason he’s cosidered good is because he hasn’t ever had a fight in the UFC……FEDOR ain’t even top 10…FUCK M-1,real fighters are bread in the Octagon always has always will be that way…look at Cro Cop.OUT

  28. pride was best

    Octagon is best because Couture is great and Cro Cop went 0-2? Let’s see who else is a reigning champ or top contender: Anderson Silva – from Pride. Rampage Jackson – also from Pride. Most every other top pound-for-pound fighter or ranked by weight – also from Pride. Hmm… Zuffa must’ve bought it for a good reason (i.e., great fighting talent) and not just to put one promotion ahead of another or other marketing whatnot.

  29. Aptninja

    I’ve got two words for you: sampling bias. Pride fighter’s have been performing well in the UFC, but that might be because the Pride fighters who got their contracts bought along with the organization were the ones Zuffa wanted — that is, the good ones. With the exception of CroCop — and I don’t think anybody expected CroCop to have lost twice at this point — they’ve all done well, and I think that’s in large part because they were the cream of a much larger stable of fighters.

    I love Pride and I think they had a better heavyweight division than the UFC. But lightweights? And besides Anderson Silva, who is awesome, whom have they contributed to middleweight? Ryo Chonan didn’t do so hot.

    Also: I take personal offense, Tyler Gale, at you calling Fedor Emilianenko a bitch. I assert that you are, in fact, the one who is a bitch. I assert that you had best start looking for a Tampax, lest you stain your dress.

  30. The Fighting Life

    Wow. The Ninja doesn’t pull any punches, I guess. But he does have a point with sampling bias. Plenty of ex-Pride fighters are now in smaller shows and looking fairly mediocre, but we don’t pay much attention to them.

    Then there’s guys like Shogun, for example. He was a monster in Pride and then got destroyed by Forrest Griffin. It just goes to show that the top talent was close to evenly divided between the two orgs.

    And Fedor? A bitch? The evidence suggests otherwise.

  31. I’d also suggest that besides the boring fights that were commentated as sensational, such as Mauricio Rua vs. Nogueira, Pride had a reputation for doped fighters, including the use of amphetamines, testosterone, EPO, etc., which increase aggressiveness in the ring.

  32. fedor hater

    people wake fedor sucks randy would of have handed fedor his ass and that is that

  33. Foot Stomper

    Here is the deal randy quit mma because he was not able to fight someone in his league (fedor), money (respect) was also an issue but fedor refuses to fight in the ufc so he refuses to fight the BEST!(randy) if fedor thought he was as good as randy actually is he would sacrafice everything to be able to fight couture just as couture gave up his career from a lack of challange, who is fighting now for the belt tim sylvia who couture annhilated 5 rounds in a row and nearly knocked him out with the first punch he threw. in his fight with gonzaga couture broke his arm in the second round ate a cro cop killing head kick in the third round only to decimate gonzaga seconds later i would like to see fedor do any of thoes things

  34. Kevin

    It’s too bad this happened, I really wanted to see Fedor and Randy duke it out. They are both tough competitors and no one can honestly predict the outcome. That’s why they fight the fights, right? However, it is true that a few of these top Pride guys have gotten their asses handed to them by UFC fighters. I like Dana White but I think the UFC needs a more diplomatic president. He doesn’t help things when he calls the fighters ‘expletives in a beauty salon’. C’mon man, you gotta be smarter than that Dana.

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