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Couture Says Resignation Was About Respect and Money

Randy Couture says his reasons for leaving the UFC essentially boil down to one thing: respect.  That’s what he felt he wasn’t getting from UFC management, both through monetary compensation and personal attention.

Couture’s press conference was streamed live on today, and despite some problems with the consistency of the stream and the audio, his message came through loud and clear.

“I’m tired of fighting against the current,” Couture said again, repeating the language he used in his initial “resignation” from the UFC two weeks ago.  He continued to claim that his was a resignation and not a retirement, because “none of you would believe that crap anyway.”

According to Couture, his displeasure with UFC management grew after he failed to receive a bonus for his fight with Gabriel Gonzaga.  Couture painted a picture of the organization’s bonus system that seemed whimsical and secretive, claiming that bonus checks are handed out in the locker room after the fights without a prior agreement as to the amount.

He said the bonus system was not based on any predetermined criteria, but that the money was instead given out at the pleasure and discretion of UFC management.  The bonuses handed out by the UFC have long been rumored to be the fighters’ main source of income, but are not written into contracts.

“Some guys have come to depend on that bonus,” Couture said.

Despite his dominating performance against Gonzaga, the UFC did not offer him a bonus, according to Couture.  He said that when he asked why, he did not receive answer.  Couture said he waited two and a half weeks for an explanation after a face-to-face meeting with White, before ultimately deciding to tender his resignation.

“I gave them a chance to respond.  I didn’t understand why I got overlooked and didn’t get a bonus in my last fight,” Couture said.  “I gave them a chance to respond.  I don’t understand why I didn’t get a response.”

Couture also said that media reports claiming he was due to receive several million dollars per fight under his current contract were flatly untrue.  He later said that he came out of retirement to fight for the UFC heavyweight title after turning down a $3 million dollar offer from the Bodog organization for a match with Fedor Emelianenko.

“That’s more money than I’ve ever been offered to fight,” Couture said of the Bodog offer.

Couture went on to suggest that the UFC’s failure to sign Emelianenko was a factor in his decision, as well, saying, “At this point in my career it’s the only fight that really makes sense for me.”

“It’s not about bashing them,” Couture said.  “I’m not trying to get into a war of words with Dana. …Dana’s said he owns me, I’m not going to get into that.  There’s no hard feelings toward Dana and certainly not toward the Fertitta’s.  They’ve done an excellent job of using their connections to build this sport back up. 

“And Dana…I don’t think he’s a bad guy.  I think he wields a lot of power and I think he doesn’t do it with the best of conscience sometimes.”

Couture repeatedly said that his decision to resign from the UFC was not simply about money.

“I don’t expect anyone to look at the money I’ve made and feel bad for me,” he said.  “I’ve made more money in this sport than I’ve ever made doing anything.  But how do you show an athlete that you appreciate him?”

On the whole, Couture kept his remarks respectful and professional, but was clearly very bothered by the UFC withholding a bonus.  After watching his fight with Gonzaga it’s difficult to understand why he wouldn’t be given one and very easy to see why he might interpret that, as well as the lack of an explanation from the UFC, as a sign of disrespect.

We’re no clearer to an answer as to whether we’ll ever see Couture in the Octagon again, as even he wouldn’t go so far as to say that the relationship was “irreparable”. 

  • Heatwaves says:

    Was there a Q & A with Randy after the press conference? If so, did anyone nail down the details of his contract with the UFC (i.e. is he clear to fight for other organizations in 8 months or is he locked in unless he fights two more times for the UFC regardless of the timeframe?)

  • Ben Fowlkes says:

    There was a Q & A, but the reporters weren’t miked so it was hard to tell what they were saying. It seemed like Randy said he was under contract for at least nine months, but didn’t know if he could fight after that.

  • ttt says:

    as much as Randy says it’s about respect, everytime he talks he mentions money and now he looks like a fool for being so loyal to the UFC that burned him; he could have had the money and the chance to fight Fedor but instead now will probably have to wade through a legal process in the prime of his career.

    it seems like randy gets the impression that he would automatically receive these mystery bonuses yet if it’s not stated in his contract, he can’t guarantee that he’ll receive these payments. seems like his “dream” situation would have been to fight Fedor in the UFC and receive Fedor pay

    i don’t know who to believe any more, Randy said he spoke to Dana recently, Dana said they didn’t

  • Adam Morgan says:

    Best notes anywhere on the interwebs right now. Solid work, Ben.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Yes, thank you Ben for that report.

  • Accomando says:

    Grazie Ben.

    Looking all over for something like this.

  • Ben Fowlkes says:

    Gosh. I feel so damn appreciated. Thanks, guys.

  • BIG WILL says:


  • […] Five Ounces of Pain Couture Says Resignation Was About Respect and Money. […]

  • […] For a detailed recap of the presser itself, be sure to check out Ben Fowlkes’ writeup.  […]

  • Jeremy says:

    Still not feeling Randy on this whole thing. I mean being upset about a bonus you are not guaranteed to get anyways isn’t really that big a deal to me.

  • Ben Fowlkes says:

    I see your point, Jeremy, but here’s what I wonder:

    1) How were his performances vs. Chuck (a loss) and vs. Sylvia (decision win) worthy of a bonus but not the fight with Gonzaga? He put on a great fight and finished it, so what could he have done to get a bonus in that fight?

    2) Word has it the “bonuses” are often more than the guaranteed money for many fighters. Calling it a bonus makes it sound like it’s just a couple of grand or something, but it’s probably much more or else Randy wouldn’t even worry about it.

    Just something to think about.

  • dice says:

    Jeremy says:
    “Still not feeling Randy on this whole thing. I mean being upset about a bonus you are not guaranteed to get anyways isn’t really that big a deal to me.”

    Please, enough. Read adam swifts blog and you will see that the UFC dug their own grave on this. Doing this “behind closed doors” deals did nothing but create the hysteria that surrounds fighter pay( by fans, media and fighters). For all the talk (by dana) of be a legit sports company, there is often little action. You ever heard of this in the NFL, NBA or MLB? My guess is that those bonuses randy was receiving were probably very close in size to his regular $750,000, if not more.

    You start going around handing fighters bonuses based solely on your discretion and you are asking for problems. I work at the place were bonuses aren’t guaranteed, but are nonetheless expected. Not a big deal to you? You must be still be in school or on your first real job.

  • Jeremy says:

    Ben, the amount of the bonus I always thought was high, never did I think Randy was upset because he didn’t get an extra $25,000.

    As for your first point, it’s tough to really answer when it’s basically at the whim of the company you work for. But that’s not any different then many other companies that give out bonuses to their employees. I personally work for a TV station here in NY. Each Christmas we get a bonus(you know a nice gesture from the company to help you cover the cost of spending extra money on Xmas presents) but there is no set amount or guarantee we are getting it. It’s not in our contract or anything. I’ve worked here 3 years now and each year it’s a different amount, as mentioned. My first year it was 1,000, the next 1,500, but last year only 750 which obviously disappointed people considering the previous years. But I mean what are you gonna do, it’s the way it is.

    I mean the UFC didn’t have to give him a bonus ever, my station doesn’t have to give me a bonus either ever. If they do, great, if they don’t, they don’t then. He gets a lot of money to fight, when it comes to bonuses I really don’t feel the complaint, when the company doesn’t have to give it to you at all to being with ever.

  • I see what you’re saying about the nature of bonuses, and I’m not trying to talk you into thinking Randy was justified. This whole thing is starting to seem like a Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill scenario. Either you believe one side or the other, and most people are fairly immovable once they’ve decided.

    I’m just sad we might not ever get to see him fight Fedor.

  • Rich says:

    Nice piece of writing Ben

  • Evan says:

    Just remember that old cliché everyone….

    “There is three sides to every story, yours mine and the truth”

  • Jeremy says:

    Yeah Ben, the fact that we might not ever see Couture fight Fedor is definitely unfortunate. But even if he wasn’t resigned and still in the UFC the likelihood of us seeing him fight Fedor(in my opinion) wasn’t very good once Fedor signed with M-1.

    The whole situation is extremely messy, and doesn’t give me any kind of good feelings either way. It’s not like I am this huge Dana White or UFC supporter in this, they do plenty of things that I am totally against. So it’s kind of like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, with no end in sight.

  • Ray Blake says:

    It’s the fans who really lose in this situation.


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