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UFC files lawsuit against Randy Couture

The gloves are off.

On Monday, the UFC filed a lawsuit against its heavyweight champion Randy Couture in Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Lawyers for Zuffa, LLC, the UFC’s parent company, on Monday filed suit in Clark County District Court, alleging chiefly that Couture’s comments about the UFC and its senior management caused the business irreparable damage and that he is in breach of the contract he signed with the company in December 2006.

“We are alleging numerous intentional torts, which have caused Zuffa and the UFC significant harm,” attorney Donald J. Campbell said. “Based upon that harm we are seeking to address these matters before a court of law.”

The UFC is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages from Couture and requests an injunction against Couture from participating in any way whatsoever with a fight promotion that is competing with the UFC.

It appears that Couture’s new relationship with the IFL has raised the ire of the UFC. Even though the IFL has never promoted the Xtreme Couture entry into their league as “Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture,” that doesn’t seem to matter to the UFC:

The lawsuit also alleges conspiracy, stating that several unnamed parties to be identified at a later date worked with Couture to intentionally inflict harm on the UFC.

According to the lawsuit, Couture is also in breach of a stipulation that prohibits him from engaging in “direct or indirect competition” with the UFC for a period of 12 months following the termination of his contract.

Thus, Couture’s sponsorship and promotion of a team in the International Fight League would be in direct violation of the stipulation. Currently, the IFL’s Web site lists Couture’s Xtreme Couture team taking on Mario Sperry’s World Class Fight Center at the IFL’s Feb. 29 card at the Orleans Arena.

According to UFC president Dana White, Couture has broken his contract and attempts to resolve things peacefully were not successful:

“What’s really tough for me, to be honest, is we have been friends for a very long time,” White said. “The hard part is that he is not living up to his obligations. Captain America is not keeping his word. ..

“I expect Randy to honor the obligations in his contract that he signed (a year ago). I tried to resolve it by talking to this guy that I’ve had a relationship with for eight years and was unsuccessful,” White said. “Now this thing’s in the hands of the justice system.”

How did we go from UFC 68 last March to this?

Read more Randy Couture content on FiveOuncesofPain.com

56 COMMENTS
  • josh b says:

    i was waiting on this to happen… not good!

  • Kelvin says:

    “How did we go from UFC 68 last March to this?”

    The answer is simple…Couture did not honor the contract that HE signed…I am no longer a fan of his.

  • Tanner says:

    and it starts…

  • FJ says:

    I dont see how having members from his gym in the IFL is a breach of contract. Thats fuckin bullshit. Randy has cornered other fighters in other orginizations before and it seemed to be no problem. Dana White has a bitter taste in his mouth. Fuck the UFC. The last couple cards have sucked anyway

  • LeVon says:

    You got to be kiddin’ me…seems convenient that this is happening days before Randy is suppose to meet Fedor in L.A.

  • Gong says:

    Aw, shit.

    “How did we go from UFC 68 last March to this?”

    Greed on both sides. Really bad move by Randy, though, either way. He should’ve just quietly stuck to his contract and then booked it when it was done. The UFC’s never going to do a cross-promo fight between him and Fedor- people should just get used to that.

  • ufcfan says:

    it came to this simply because…

    randy did NOT honour his contract.
    which he signed.

    man up…fulfill your obligations.

  • Jay K. says:

    Truly a lose/lose situation for both.
    Jay K.

  • Mr. Takedown says:

    holy crap, Couture is done for. Those are the same lawyers that shut down UFCtakedown.com!! Run for the hills, Randy!!

  • Evan says:

    Somebody gave Randy some awful advice on how to handle this. Randy made this too public.

  • Derek B. says:

    I doubt it’ll be as bad as everyone is reporting it will be.

    I’m sure they will find closure somewhere down the road.

    They need to just let Randy go and do his own thing. He doesn’t want to fight with the UFC anymore…I don’t see what the big deal is.

    UFC is just money hungry looking for their star to come back to them…but this Def. isn’t going to make the situation any better.

    Best of luck to both parties.

  • Evan says:

    “holy crap, Couture is done for. Those are the same lawyers that shut down UFCtakedown.com!!

    Whats the back story here?

  • Evan says:

    I agree Derek. This is just sword rattling and will be settled in due time. I expect to see him back cornering or commentating again in a few years.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Why did Dana have to issue a quote that said “Captain America is not keeping his word…” Why does he have to be so caustic?

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    Yeah Sam it kinda sounded like he was some sadistic Supervillain. You can almost picture him saying it while stroking a white cat.

  • Jake says:

    Athletes and entertainers get out of contracts and/or renegotiate them all the time, it just depends on how good their lawyers are.
    Because the UFC is the biggest and most successful promotion, they can be the most stringent and inflexible on their contracts (exclusivity, breaking the contract on the UFC’s terms, etc.) which until now was never that much of an issue. But look at what is happening now in the heavyweight division: Couture “resigns”, Fedor doesn’t sign and Arlovski is “on the bench”. I think that their inflexibility is going to come back and haunt them like it’s doing now.

  • Ian says:

    You’re talking about a guy that in the same breath will promote Big Nog as a huge contender, and then go on to call fedor an overrated, not even top 5 heavyweight.

    He’s not exactly a bastion of common sense.

    This entire situation is due to Dana White serving up Fedor a contract that nobody in their right mind would sign, secure in the knowledge that the average American UFC fan has limited to no knowledge of who Fedor is anyway.

    The UFC has deep pockets to litigate Randy until he’s collecting social security.I’d love to see Cuban get involved and help Couture in his legal defense, and then goes on to make the Fedor/Couture fight happen.

    I will not be buying any UFC events this year.

  • paddiosf says:

    I knew it was a matter of time that the legal system was going to go into effect..this is going to get ugly…I envision this process to take a year or more to be resolved, which means Courture may just retire…

  • Derek B. says:

    Is Randy really hurting UFC’s revenue by not being apart of the Org anymore? I thought they were doing just fine when he retired the first time. Are they looking for money from Randy? What is their motive for doing this? Do they just not want him going out doing work for other Orgs?

  • Captain says:

    “I dont see how having members from his gym in the IFL is a breach of contract. Thats fuckin bullshit. Randy has cornered other fighters in other orginizations before and it seemed to be no problem. Dana White has a bitter taste in his mouth. Fuck the UFC. The last couple cards have sucked anyway”

    I don’t think it’s that members of his gym are competing in the IFL or that he is cornering them but that Xtreme Couture is sponsoring a team for the IFL. I am sure Randy’s contract has some very strict non-competition provisions that prohibit him from competing directly or indirectly with the UFC. Randy’s ownership level in Xtreme Couture (whatever it is) combined with Xtreme Couture’s sponsorship of a team in the IFL would most likely be seen as engaging in indirect (if not direct) competition with the UFC.

    This whole thing is getting a little crazy. I hope whoever is giving Randy advice has some kind of method behind the madness.

  • LSUjb1 says:

    What is the bottom line of the entire situation? Couture had a contract that he has not fulfilled, that fact is hard to argue. Athletes do not honor contracts anymore in any sport and I think that’s terrible. I’m a fan of Couture and think he is great for the sport, but his handling of this situation has been very bad.

    This has the potential to be a very ugly suit, but I’m hoping it’s just a ploy to get them to the final negotiating table to iron some sort of agreement out. It would be a shame to have Randy waste away on the sidelines for the end of his career.

  • Dave says:

    “They need to just let Randy go and do his own thing. He doesn’t want to fight with the UFC anymore…I don’t see what the big deal is.”

    why would the ufc be stupid enough to let one of the biggest names in mma go to another organisation and bring them publicity. Regardless of what he wants to do its not up to him, he signed a contract. the ufc is looking out for the ufc. Good move on their part.

  • Kelvin says:

    “Is Randy really hurting UFC’s revenue by not being apart of the Org anymore? I thought they were doing just fine when he retired the first time. Are they looking for money from Randy? What is their motive for doing this? Do they just not want him going out doing work for other Orgs?”

    Yes, Couture not fulfilling his contract takes money out of Zuffa’s pocket being he has a big fan base…not to mention a champion. Their motive for doing this is to prevent other fighter’s from not honoring their contracts. Think about it…if they don’t do this…then other fighter’s will follow suit…Randy brought this on himself.

  • Evan says:

    “What is their motive for doing this? ”

    One issue…M-1 will promote the hell out of this they Fedor is facing the UFC HW champion. Leeching off the UFC name

  • Evan says:

    Randy has broken his arm again.

  • Mr. Takedown says:

    #13 Evan
    my old site, ufctakedown.com, was the first to receive the cease and desist order from the Zuffa lawyers. Many other sites since then have changed their URLs to http://www.MMAwhatever.com

    But if I didn’t lose that site, then I wouldn’t be here, working with Caplan and Morgan. So in the end, thanks Zuffa!!

  • mike wolfe says:

    If UFC gets the injunction its seeking, that’s it for a fight with Fedor. The injunction would be written such that Couture is prohibited from fighting outside the UFC, which would apply to other fights as well.

    Sam, see if you can your hands on the complaint. It’s a public document, and it would be a big scoop for you if you can post it. You never know, it might even have Couture’s contract attached as an exhibit. It will certainly lay out the UFC’s position in detail.

  • mike wolfe says:

    Things could get even more interesting. The way I understand it, White particularly dislikes Couture’s agent. There’s a decent chance that guy will be identified as a defendant at a later date under the theory that he was involved in the conspiracy to breach the contract and/or advised Couture to breach the contract, making him personally liable. Clearly the agent will have seen the contract, so he will have knowledge of its terms and can’t play dumb. JOining the agent could drive a wedge between Couture and him, especially if Couture feels that his agent didn’t think this through carefully. Let’s see how tough White/UFC intend to be.

  • Derek B. says:

    That sucks Matt…you never told me the story of your site getting shut down because of UFC was in the title.

    Reminds me of when Nissan tried to sue the guy who owns nissan.com

    the guy took them to court and won the battle though and now if you go to nissan.com you can read his article about what happened.

    Just sucks that the UFC would do that to a supporter of their own company. It’s basically free advertising for them..they’re just to remedial to see that.

  • Wang Chung says:

    well i guess we know now for sure that the ufc brand is more important than the fighters it staffs. honestly, i can see the ufc’s side from a business perspective, but in general it just seems really small and vindictive to sue a guy that helped you get where you are. business is ugly business.

  • Brad says:

    This is most likely a ridiculous suggestion, but would something titled an “exhibition” fight count against his non-compete clause? Something similar to how the TUF fights are put on. Fedor can still collect his paycheck, M-1 can somehow take care of Randy on the back-end (with a future analyst/consulting job or something to that effect), and he would still get to compete with Fedor and stick it to the UFC.

    Again, I know that sounds pretty stupid, but I’m just curious if that could possibly happen.

  • Captain says:

    Depending on how tight the non-compete provisions are, even if Randy didn’t get paid his participation would still probably be seen as engaging in an activity that competes with the UFC. Aside from how tightly drafted the provisions are, the other question is how long is the non-compete period as defined in the agreement?

  • jjdnb says:

    dana is a dick and randy is a dumb ass. I hope randy loses some and ufc loses fans. then lets have the fedor/couture fight

  • mike wolfe says:

    I can’t be too critical of White or UFC. Couture’s actions have to be addressed or other fighters and agents will try to re-negotiate or renege on their contracts. The potential implications for UFC extend beyond the current dispute with Couture. I don’t know what conversations took place before Couture’s “resignation”, but if there were none, he’s got nobody to blame but himself, or the person who advised him. Frankly, both sides stand to lose in the long run even if they prevail in the dispute. Once everybody calms down and stops reacting, I would expect them to have some negotiations. They’re still circling each other and looking for openings at this point.

  • Evan says:

    “They’re still circling each other and looking for openings at this point.”

    hah…good way to put it. Too funny.

    Dana does seem to like to cut out agents so I think if this will be resolved it will be directly between Dana and Randy. Not lawyers and agents.

  • Zack says:

    I feel for Randy, but it seems he miscalculated his contract and his leverage. He would have been better off keeping his mouth shut, fighting Nog in Feb, and then maybe a rematch with Big Tim or Gonzaga in the Summer, and then be free and clear to trash the UFC and fight Fedor in October.

  • Evan says:

    “and then maybe a rematch with Big Tim or Gonzaga in the Summer”

    As I previously said, Randy just broke his arm again. Same arm. He won’t be doing anything soon.

  • Captain says:

    “As I previously said, Randy just broke his arm again. Same arm. He won’t be doing anything soon.”

    How? Any news on that?

  • Evan says:

    He broke it checking a kick in practice from Jay White. Someone told me that but word is starting to come out on it. Check out his recent pics from his poker thing he just did. His arm is in a sling.

  • Sergio says:

    Re: #39

    He did it in training… there is a video on rawvegas.tv for a poker tournament Randy has something to do with where his cast is brought up.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Couture is wearing a sling and talks about the injury in the clip on this site about his charity poker tournament. Not only was his arm in a sling, he looked smaller in overall body mass. He doesn’t look like he’s carrying heavy weight size at this point.

  • Evan says:

    Ah, I didn’t see the video. Videos posted on blogs are blocked on my work browser.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    Dana White thinks he is friends with every UFC fighter.

    he reminds me of the rich kid at school who used to have to buy loads of weed so he could hang around with the big boys. when he wasnt about, the big boys called him an ass licker, and if ever there was a falling out, the rich kid would go running to the headmaster.

    Fuck Dana White

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Yet another example of the man trying to keep us down. Fight the power.

  • Evan says:

    I am all about some Project Mayhem

  • It’s hard to say how this case is going to turn out, but I’d expect that Randy Couture would defintely be bound to Zuffa until October 2008, and that the one-year no-compete clause after that would also probably hold up in court because no-compete clauses of one year or less usually do hold up in court.

    So, at that point it would be October of 2009 and Couture would be 46 years old. The obvious question at that point is, “What could Couture possibly accomplish in MMA when he’s 46 years old?” but then again Couture defied the odds at 43 years old to win the UFC Heavyweight Title and then successfully defended it when he was 44 years old, so who knows?

    The issue goes beyond October of 2009, however, as Zuffa is essentially trying to make Randy Couture their property for life with these clauses regarding contracts being able to be “extended indefinitely” if a fighter is unable to accept a fight for any reason whatsoever (whether it’s injury, resigning from the company, or anything else). That amounts to a no-compete clause for all of time, and there’s no way that is legal or would hold up in court. No-compete clauses lasting more than one year have a horrible track record of holding up in court.

    Heck, the UFC wouldn’t have been able to sign their latest headliner, Brock Lesnar, if not for the fact that WWE was basically getting their ass kicked in court when they tried to enforce the six-year no-compete clause that Brock Lesnar signed (as part of the WWE contract from which Lesnar quit just months after signing due to the stress of being on the road in WWE).

    In addition, the so-called “champion’s clause,” where the UFC tries to essentially claim ownership of a fighter if he is one of their champions, is not likely to hold up in court. In a previous case where BJ Penn won a UFC title on the last fight of his UFC contract and then went to fight for more money in K-1 Hero’s shortly thereafter, Zuffa sued him on the grounds that the “champion’s clause” in the contract that he signed should have made him bound to Zuffa even though his title victory over Hughes was the last fight on Penn’s contract. As with Lesnar and WWE, that was not going well for Zuffa in court and just as with Lesnar it led to a rather one-sided settlement that very much favored the individual (Lesnar, Penn) over the corporation (WWE, Zuffa).

    The IFL thing would be a fairly blatant violation of Couture’s no-compete clause if he was actually the coach of that team in the IFL, but he’s not, nor was he ever scheduled to be. Shawn Tompkins is. The only potential issue there is the fact that the word “Couture” is in the name of the gym that Shawn Tompkins coaches out of (ie, “Team Xtreme Couture”). This could be a non-issue by tomorrow if they just change the name of the IFL team to “Team Tompkins,” with the same coach that it was always going to have: Shawn Tompkins.

    So, basically, Zuffa would obviously have an air-tight case when it comes to their contract with Randy Couture through October 2008, and would probably have a good case when it comes to the one-year no-compete clause if indeed there is such a clause in the contract with very clear language detailing it, so that would lock Couture up contractually through October 2009, but beyond that, I think they have a very weak case as far as their efforts to lock Couture up contractually for the rest of his life.

  • ellisworld says:

    I don’t know about the contract part of the lawsuit but Randy’s 1st ammendments rights will over rule Zuffa’s claim of “damage to thier name” no problem. If not in the Vegas court sysem than certainly in the higher courts. Zuffa and thier lawyers know that but they want public opinion on thier side. It seems like it is workng.

    I’m a journalism student and I have studied many court cases about freedom of speech. The reason Zuffa is implicating others and claiming conspirisy is because they must prove mal intent in order to be awarded compensatory and punitive damages. It is a longshot in the very least and very hard to prove, especially against a 1st amm. right.

  • Mike says:

    Well I’ve been a fan of the UFC since its inception when the Gracie’s formed it! I think Dana White has done a good job with his CONNECTIONS in bringing the sport back from the jungle!!! I know Randy is a straight shooter and there is more to this than what is being released to the public… Think about it Dana usually comes straight out and tells it like it is and now he can only make small comments that really dont tell the story. They haven’t even talked about it in any of their programs or events?

    I feel that Dana should come out with Randy and both state their sides to let us the Fans the heart of this sport know what the issues are then we can decide… Until he does this I’m suspecious of whats taken place and I dont plan on attending or purchasing any of their products!

    Dont hide behind your lawyers… Dana and your CONNECTIONS deep pockets!!! You never have before why now?

  • Come on Dana Randy really didnt do that much wrong he is by far one of the best fighters in mixed martial arts today. You are willing to throw him away just for a little thing like that? That is bullshit.

  • Scott says:

    To me, this is bad judgement on Dana White’s behalf. He is burning bridges.
    He is obviously a great marketing and business mind, but when it comes to relationships it seems he is awful… and ultimately business is about building relationships.

    I’m a huge fan of Couture
    The more I see and here of Dana White the less I like him. I think Dana needs to show more respect and consider where he might be without the veterans like Randy that helped build his UFC empire. If he continues to burn bridges it’s just a matter of time before two or three more really big names have had enough of Dana’s temper tantrums and support or start a another rival league. One guy like couture can attract a lot of fans and fighters away from the UFC. Dana better pray that Coutures networking skills aren’t so good or this is the kind of brige burning that can signal the beginning of the end for the UFC.

  • david says:

    the ufc only has that retarded show so that they can fill the undercard and pay those fighters like crap in exchange for exposure, but the new people just starting to watch it dont know the difference, but fans from the early ninetys know exactly whats goin on, ya aint fooling nobody

  • Corey Robinson says:

    I’m surprised it took this long..With UFC growing there are going to be things like this happen,and out in the public eye more.But if Randy is having trouble finding a challenging fight,lol,Drop down weight and let “Rampage” give ya good-bye whoopin..lmao

  • OklahomaOgre says:

    Randy C. signed a contract.
    Randy C. did not fulfill that contract.
    Randy C. is now paying the price for not fulfilling his obligations.

    UFC is suing Randy C.
    UFC is losing a champion.
    UFC has a huge list of up-and-comers to fill that void.

    Will Randy C. feel the effects of this litigation? Most likely.
    Will the UFC feel the effects of this litigation? Highly unlikely.

    Was Randy C. a great fighter? Yes.
    Should UFC have let Randy C. fight Fedor? Probably.
    Will I be watching UFC 81+? You bet your @$$ I will be.

  • don says:

    danna white is screwing up what he started it would never be where it is with out him but the way hes getting rid of fighters and sponsors he should be bounced mma is the bomb and he should drop his ego and let stuff happen danna get in the ring with liddell and get your bell rang and get back on track with what you started

  • Jacob says:

    Danna is a smilefish someone that will try to get money out of your pocket. Randy stated that ever since UFC got taken over by danna they have been trying to make things bad for him. I understand if he dont wanna swim upstream especially his last years as a fighter. I think he did it in a clumsy way, but i think it was the right decision… i enjoy UFC but i can see threw the smoke and water, the management is using alot of fighters, making money out of fighters undoing. The judges are questionable often allowing to much punishment and in the end its bad for the fighters… getting injured and being away 1 year for recovery is not in the intresst of the sport.

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