Randy Couture has become a legend in Mixed Martial Arts over the last 10 years. Incredibly, well into his 40’s, Couture’s popularity and fighting skills have continue to soar. Couture has fought and beaten the best in the sport. Unfortunately, his final fight may come inside a courtroom.
This week the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas, granted a stay of Motion for a Declaratory Judgement in favor of Zuffa (vs. HDNET), which effectively deferred the case to arbitration between Zuffa and Couture. Now that I’ve confused you, what does this all mean?
Well, essentially Randy may be cornered. Mark Cuban (HDNET) signed Randy to a contract earlier this year after Randy ‘retired’ from the UFC. Cuban sought a judges decision to determine when Couture’s contract did in fact end with the UFC. And just this week, the Texas judge effectively said ‘Go figure this out in arbitration, and please get out of my sight.’ Harsh indeed.
So, where does Couture go from here at 45 years of age? Rumours are circling that Zuffa and Randy have finally decided to meet up in Nevada to discuss his future. Dana White has never been shy to bash anyone and everyone who does not agree with the UFC’s business model. But with the Couture situation, he has remained relatively silent. White contends that he would love to have Randy back in the UFC, and it can be understood why. He’s a huge draw.
Affliction has sought after the Natural, but given Couture’s current situation with the UFC, this unfortunately, appears highly unlikely.
To the UFC’s credit, they have tried. They offered Couture a fight with interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which he politely declined. They have tried to set up a title fight with Fedor for over a year, but could never come to terms with the unstoppable Russian. Nothing seems to be working.
The UFC’s plan seems to be the following:
Step 1: Drag this process through the mud as long as possible and offer Couture fights that he will certainly reject.
Step 2: Hope that Couture becomes broke from paying legal fees, OR
Step 3: Couture becomes too old to fight or to even care.
Step 4: Couture comes back to the UFC, broke and worn out and ready to fight whoever.
As cruel as the plan is, it appears to be working.
Currently, Couture has nowhere to fight and desperately wants one final fight with Fedor. And what does Fedor have to say about all of this? Well, he says very little, but his management said a lot this week.
They said they would be willing to open up talks with the UFC again, to make this fight happen. Could the UFC sign the Russian to a long term deal? Would the UFC be willing to sign Fedor to a 1 fight deal with Couture that would bring in huge PPV dollars, but could end with a UFC champ that no longer fights for the company? Can they make it a non title fight? Oh the possibilities.
But this all appears unlikely given the UFC’s propensity to control everyone and everything. Hey, it’s a winnig formula. But we can hope for a miracle right? Just this once?
I remember in March 2007 when ZUFFA bought Pride. Most hardcore fans head’s were about to explode, dreaming of all the potential match ups they would see. ZUFFA even went as far as saying that they would finally give us those fights.
Well. Over a year and a half later, I am still waiting to see Fedor vs. Couture. But the UFC has a golden opportunity to right a wrong, even if it means bending their ‘rules’ over exclusive and 1 fight contracts. If over the next few months Couture, Fedor and the UFC can come to an agreement, no one can question the UFC’s willingness to give us the fights we anxiously await.
Somewhere deep down, I want to believe they can make this happen. Please UFC, make this happen.
I know it would be awfully sad, watching Couture fight inside a courtroom, and know that it would be his last.