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 ProElite.com 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”.