5 Oz. Roundtable: Randy Couture’s departure from the UFC

We’re launching another new feature here on FiveOuncesOfPain.com called the “5 Oz. Roundtable” where we poll our staff of writers in regard to a burning issue in the world of MMA.

The question we asked our staff for the first poll was:

“What do you think of Randy Couture’s decision to leave the UFC?”

Ben Fowlkes: Remember in the classic Western Shane where at the end the main character rides off into the sunset, maybe slumping over on his saddle and dying and maybe not? And remember how the boy shouts out, “Come back, Shane!,” only Shane doesn’t come back, he just keeps going? Well, even though I knew Randy couldn’t go on forever, some part of me feels like that little boy right now.

There are three reasons I can think of for Randy Couture to leave the UFC, and two of them are valid.

If he genuinely wants to fight Fedor because he wants to test himself and find out if he truly is the best in the world, that only adds to the already-epic legend of Couture. If he’s leaving because he’s tired of the broken bones and the aching joints and the other sacrifices that come with life as a fighter, that’s understandable.

But if he’s resigning because he wants to become a movie star, because he wants to leave MMA for good and someday star in horrible family comedies like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (a Scorpion King predecessor, mind you), then I’m going to be as sad as that little boy when Shane wouldn’t come back. And I’m going to stay that way for a long, long time.

Adam Morgan: I see this as completely shocking. It seems as if Dana and some other people don’t think it’s too much of a shock, but really, this is nothing but a huge middle finger in Dana White’s direction. From the sounds of it, Randy was getting screwed by the UFC as far as compensation goes. For him to come out and say some of the things he’s said today, things must not have been as kosher with the Dana White and the UFC as everyone seemed to have thought. Randy has sent a message to the UFC: Pay your fighters what they’re worth. A top star in the UFC resigns and drops bombshells on the way out. This is a lesson the UFC is learning the hard way.

The other interesting point things here are the remarks from Randy from the Sherdog article. According to Randy, if UFC would have signed Fedor, this would have been the scenario: Fedor signs, they offer the fight to Randy, and Randy says “F*ck you guys, I want Fedor money.” This is something no one’s talking about. Can you imagine? Dana brings Fedor in to fight Randy and Randy retorts by telling him he won’t fight unless he gets more money, basically holding Dana hostage.

I kind of wish this is the way things would have went down, to be honest. I’d like to have seen what Dana’s response and Randy’s response would be to the situation. Do you think Dana would have folded and given Randy his money? I think so. The Fedor vs. Randy fight is a dream matchup, one that many fans want and one that Dana wanted badly as well. If Randy were to hold him and the fight hostage for more money, then Dana has to fold in order to save face.

I commend Randy for telling it like it is and not holding back. When someone with his stature says these kinds of things, it sends shockwaves through the MMA community. And how big was Fedor’s signing with M-1? In two days, the UFC lost him and Randy Couture as result. I wish the best for Randy and hopefully M-1 comes ringing on his doorbell, asking for an opponent for Fedor. Hey, there’s always wishful thinking, right?

Sam Caplan: Now that some of the shock has worn off, maybe we should have seen the signs coming? Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reported several weeks back that a number of fighters were not happy and there were some issues about the reporting of buyrates and whether certain fighters would continue to even get a percentage of buyrates.

I’d love to ask Dana White directly whether Dan Henderson’s assertion that the UFC has attempted to institute some cutbacks. Does the UFC owe so much in loan payments that they need to increase their cash flow through cuts in order to make payments? I’d also like to know what Randy’s comment about not getting a bonus for the fight at UFC 74 vs. Gonzaga means. Is it a clerical situation where he simply hasn’t been given his bonus because the UFC is still waiting for the numbers to come in or did he mean they are refusing to give him a bonus now and in the future?

I think the money situation goes beyond just Randy. On the surface, it just seems to make too much sense to not just give Couture a huge bump in pay for his final couple of fights. But perhaps the UFC feels that if they give Couture a substantial raise that it will open the floodgates and virtually every fighter in the UFC will ask for a raise.

Gary Herman: I think Randy Couture’s decision to leave the UFC will have important short-term and long-term ramifications on the UFC.

In the short-term, the UFC needs to address who is the heavyweight champion. The best way to do that would be an 8-man tournament fought over eight months to determine the new champ. The tournament should start this Saturday with Tim Sylvia vs Brandon Vera. Other guys in the tournament could be Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Andrei Arlovski, Cheick Kongo, Gabriel Gonzaga, Mirko Cro Cop, and Fabricio Werdum (or they could be imaginative and go outside the UFC for someone like a Josh Barnett or Ben Rothwell).

By having the tournament, the UFC would establish a major star in MMA. Many of the new fans of the sport have never seen a tournament before. Imagine how much recognition someone like a Noguiera would get after winning three major matches and having three countdown shows done about him? It would quickly repair the championship. Short-term, UFC could be fine.

In the long-term, what Couture is doing is basically a one-man strike. He is walking out on the UFC over money. (I don’t buy the UFC’s lack of signing Fedor as the main reason – it may be in the background, but I do not believe Couture couldn’t get somewhat excited about a fight with Nogueira or even a surging Vera). By money, Couture mentions the inequities between himself and the other top guys in the UFC – mainly Mirko Cro Cop and Rampage Jackson. However, the real inequity has to do with what UFC fighters are paid verses what boxers are paid.

Now, I know they are two different sports, but the main revenues from each come from PPV buys. Most PPV buys are sold on the main event. When Randy Couture fights, he is in the main event. I do not think Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquaio, or Floyd Mayweather would ever receive a check of 250k for a main event boxing match. On the contrary, the boxer’s paychecks would be well in the millions.

By walking out on the UFC, Couture is basically laying down the gauntlet for himself and the rest of MMA. Couture is making the statement that the top guys need to be paid an equitable share of the PPV revenues. The question is going to be a little different though – for MMA, is it the fighters that sell the show? Or is it the letters U-F-C that sell the show?

I’m sure the answer is a little of both. Most assuredly, Dana White believes it is the UFC that sells the show while Couture thinks it is the fighter the sells the show. If Couture somehow gets his wish and fights Emelianenko is another organization, we may finally have the barometer. In actuality though, could the buys possibly exceed 100k – whereas in the UFC the fight would possibly top 1 million? I would think most hardcore fans would find the fight and order it but most mainstream fans would probably not be interested. I just couldn’t see the sports bar down the street airing an EliteXC show on the big screen instead of the local sports team.

Basically, Couture and the UFC need each other, but the UFC has other mega-stars like Chuck Liddell and Jackson. Couture is a top star, but the UFC has the vehicle to make other top stars. For Couture to have long-term success with his walk-out, many other top guys would need to join him immediately (before the UFC can create new stars). Guys like Liddell, Jackson, Anderson Silva, Georges St Pierre and BJ Penn would have to drop everything and leave as well.

Short-term, UFC could benefit if they promote a huge heavyweight tournament. Long-term, Couture can only benefit if the other UFC fighters get solidly behind him – which is a very unlikely scenario. From the looks of things, the UFC will be fine in both the short-term and long-term scenarios.

Matt Kaplan: In many ways, Randy Couture is the quintessential man, a tireless competitor whose been knocked down, only to rise again to greater prominence. Randy was never one of my most favorite fighters, but I always respected – and I still do – what he accomplished inside the octagon and what he stood for outside of it. I think this very respect issue – more so than Randy not getting the Fedor match – was the catalyst for Randy’s departure from the UFC. The way I see it, Randy resigning – via fax! – with the heavyweight belt and a couple of fights left on his contract is nothing more than reciprocity for what he perceives as a lack of respect shown to him by UFC brass.

I can’t change what happened, but I can look ahead to what will become of the UFC heavyweight division. For me, the worst part of Randy leaving the UFC is the inevitability of a vacant championship belt in the sport’s marquee heavyweight class. A vacant UFC heavyweight belt belies the competitiveness and talent of a division that boasts former champions in Rodrigo Nogueira, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski (remember him?), as well as established and rising stars like Mirko Filipovic, Fabricio Werdum, Heath Herring, Cheick Kongo, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Brandon Vera. Word on the street is that Rodrigo Nogueira will face either Tim Sylvia or Brandon Vera some time in early 2008. And that’s cool, I guess. But who wouldn’t rather see Randy step into the cage for a fight with Nogueira or Vera, or for a rematch against Sylvia ? I sure would.

As for Randy’s trading in the bright lights of the UFC for the much brighter lights of Hollywood, I wish him well. Randy is not the scene stealer that a Rampage Jackson or a Bas Rutten – or even a Blake Bowman – could be, so I expect Randy to play Randy: big, strong, tough, patriotic, ruggedly endearing. Life in the movie biz will yield great exposure for the MMA legend, who will now be collecting a handsome pay check without having to train like an animal or face the threat of being knocked out cold in the process. Can’t blame a guy for that.

Oh, and by the way, if the new Hollywood version of Randy Couture winds up appearing on Dancing with the Stars any time soon (or ever, really), I might kill someone.

8 COMMENTS
  • Davey D says:

    It’s to bad Randy didn’t want to fight Rodrigo Nogueira. That just sucks! I think that would’ve been one hell of a match. Nog has a better record against even better oppenets and Randy thinks that Minotauro isn’t worth the time or day?

    IMO, If there is one person Randy ducked it’s Nogueira. My money wouldn’t have been on Randy either, regardless if he quit or not.

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  • BearTap says:

    After having a couple days to think about it, I think one of the major questions that needs to be answered is; “If Randy was happy to come back with his contract two fights ago (6-8months ago) what has gone so bad that he would just dro everything?” I seriously can’t believe that if he was getting ready to dip his toe in the MMA waters out of retirement once again, he wouldn’t have put more time and thought into his contract. He just signed at the begining of this year for god’s sake!!! Would we still be having this conversation if he lost to Tim Sylvia? It just boggles my mind that he just now starts finding out what other fighters are being paid, what their bonuses are, blah blah blah… I think the next little while is going to be the watershed moment to find out what started this whole lunacy. Will M1 step up to the plate and ink Couture to a fight with Fedor once his UFC contract expires (if a time constraint is all that holds him back)? Or is this just ransom that Randy is holding the UFC for so they turn around, offer him Fedor money, then they pay M1 to have Fedor fight in the UFC and M1 makes a nice cut off hiring out the services of their #1 Heavy Weight? Randy wouldn’t even be fighting for the title anymore, he left it when he quit. Is he going to pull the BJ Penn with “The Real Champ is back” T-shirt? To be totally honest, I have been a hardcore UFC/MMA fan since the grainy days of tourney style UFC 1 and I have lost alot more respect for Randy, then I have for the UFC. Plain and Simple. The UFC made Randy just as much as he made them. Without the UFC would he have all his clothing lines, his gyms, his persona and publicity? It’s the old saying “We together are greater then any one of us can ever be.” And that saying is totally true, I will pay to Rampage vs Whoever is going to lose next :D, I will pay to see Chuck vs Wandy, I will pay to see GSP vs Whoever is going to lose next. I will *not* pay to see Randy vs Fedor in a ring, just like I did not pay to see Lindland vs Fedor in a ring. That’s what YouTube is for.

    And for the record, I will *not* pay to see the Scorpion King, that’s what straight to DVD release is for.

    Hate to say it but it’s sad to say Bye-Bye to Randy but…

    Looks like mighty Casey has struck out.

    Thanks,
    Kris – OSRF (One Sad Randy Fan)

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  • dice says:

    Wow, the first two posts come from guys who seem like they just climbed out of the womb.

    Davey D: Are you serious? Just look through the guys history. There isn’t a single documented case where randy ducked anyone. In fact it seems obvious to the most casual fan that he actually has done the opposite. He has fought anyone that the UFC put in front of him. Fighting nog has absolutely no upside. Nog was brutally beaten twice by fedor, if randy beat him, the same question would still be asked: Is randy the best heavyweight fighter in the world? To be the best you need to beat the best (not the second best). Pretty simple.

    Beartap:
    “If Randy was happy to come back with his contract two fights ago (6-8months ago) what has gone so bad that he would just dro everything?”

    Um, well, I don’t even know where to start with this one. Have you been following this story at all? What has gone so bad in the past 6-8 months? Well the UFC wasn’t able to sign the best fighter in the world, the only guy who randy has any interest in fighting. And second, he found out recently what other fighters were making and contributing (how this “boggles” your mind is beyond me); compared that to what he is making and contributing, and realized that he may be getting the short end of the stick.

    This isn’t rocket science fellas. Asking a question like “Would we still be having this conversation if he lost to Tim Sylvia?” is indicative how little you can comprehend about this situation. (of course not, thats the whole point randy is trying to make, he is worth more now than before that fight, contract be damned). Randy is upset because of how the UFC held out on him after the GG fight when it came to his bonus. I am sure if they would have compensated him close to what they did after the sylvia fight then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. So unless you know the exact conditions of his contract, I would be cautious about generalizing.

    Also, when you make a statement like this “I will pay to see Chuck vs Wandy….I will *not* pay to see Randy vs Fedor in a ring” shows that your UFC nuthuggery knows no bounds. You would rather see 2 guys each coming off of back to back losses than watch the greatest UFC heavyweight champ vs the greatest pride Champ, in their primes just because the UFC is not involved.

    Your not a fan of mma, you are a brand fan. Calling yourself OSRF, is laughable. You are obviously OSUFCF

    PS “Or is this just ransom that Randy is holding the UFC for so they turn around, offer him Fedor money,…”
    well according to fellow UFC nuthugger kevin Iole, randy was making about 3 times in the UFC what fedor signed with M-1 for. Iole states that randy signed a 4 fight deal for 13-15 million. Fedor signed a 9 fight deal for 10 million. Do the math? Its obvious Iole got these numbers from his ass.

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  • BearTap says:

    Dice:

    First off, the only thing that has happened in the past year is yes, they don’t have Fedor, well they didn’t have Fedor when Randy signed the contract. Randy was adamant that he came back to fight Tim Sylvia and show people how a Champion should behave. He was sick of the lame fights (he wasn’t the only one) and he was hungry for getting back in the ring and throwing the leather. Well, he came back, won and won again. Wicked, he was the top. Now don’t you think he had an open line of communication with the UFC fighters, not only at his gym but all the other fighters he contacts on a regular basis, that he would/should have known exactly what everyone was making before he began to negotiate? When he was retired, in the UFC’s eyes, he was *the* biggest free agent to be signed out there. He had name recognition in the UFC and he was everyone’s hero, he was the man. Again, to bring up the Fedor argument, they have never had Fedor, so why did he come bacK? When has Randy ever said in all this BS that the UFC held out his bonus from the Gonzaga fight? This never played into the “resignation” at any point of the interviews that have been conducted. To come into a four fight contract you signed less then a year ago and bail halfway through is the most half assed way to do business I’ve ever seen. You were soled a Cobalt, but you decide, you really wanted a Corvette. You either haven’t done your homework to get what you want or that’s the best deal you could get. That brins up the next point, Chuck vs Wandy are coming off back to back losses, so was Couture when he signed to fight Tim Sylvia. Chuck (who I can’t stand) laid him out twice and showed he had no gameplan to take on a counter puncher. And if you want to get into, what really makes Randy the best Heavyweight Champion ever? He’s held the belt multiple times, but who was he beat for the belt? Tim Sylvia and Gabe Gonzaga? Give me a break, Gonzaga wasn’t even a top heavyweight until Randy came back. :P He lost to Barnett (albeit jacked), tight with Pedro Rizzo (twice) and never faced Minotauro in his prime or Arona. I’d have to say you’re the one who’s generalizing with the statement he got no bonus, you’re drinking the kool-aid dude, you and I have no factual evidence to support any of the claims being made. I doubt the fact Fedor was offered a contract in the area of 1.5-2mill a fight, he has no star power with the casual UFC fan and he would be too high a risk to throw that much cash down on (ala Cro-Cop)

    Watch the interview with all the Couture fighters man, Bonnar hits it on the head, he walked for more cash, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with Fedor and all to do with Randy. I love the dude man, but I am just one disappointed fan.

    Kevin Ahole is a joke of a “reporter”, that’s the only reason they brought Dave Metzler, was to give some credibility to Yahoo.

    And don’t both trying to paint me as a brand fan, I order all PPV’s for EliteXC and TKO (from Canada). I would pay to see Randy vs Fedor live, but I’m not going to pay to watch the Red Devil MMA Team show, give me a break. That card would suck, just like the Bodog fight card sucked rocks.

    I’m big on the UFC. Just like I’m big on the NFL over the CFL. It’s the number 1 show in town bro, doubting that just makes you look like a goof. If they didn’t have the #1 HW (which I think Randy was over Fedor anyway) they have 2-10. :P The only people they don’t have right now are a handful of fantastic people. But don’t believe the hype, Arona, Melendez and Shields will all come around. Nick Diaz will be back too. It’s the big show, plain and simple. Don’t hate them because they get the best people and put on the best production. Just like the NFL.

    Hilarious how fanboys always like to personally attack other posters. Must get lonely in your parent’s basement.

    Randy would have lost to Vera anyway. The Truth FTW baby.

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  • dice says:

    Now on to the contradictions:

    “I doubt the fact Fedor was offered a contract in the area of 1.5-2mill a fight…”

    “Kevin Ahole is a joke of a “reporter”, that’s the only reason they brought Dave Metzler, was to give some credibility to Yahoo.”

    Well considering I got that figure from meltzer, who you consider credible, then I see no reason why you would doubt it.

    “…I will *not* pay to see Randy vs Fedor in a ring..”

    “I would pay to see Randy vs Fedor live…”

    Oh, now you would pay to see them. With a fight that big, the undercard kind of becomes an afterthought, wouldn’t ya say?

    “First off, the only thing that has happened in the past year is yes, they don’t have Fedor, well they didn’t have Fedor when Randy signed the contract”

    “Now don’t you think he had an open line of communication with the UFC fighters, not only at his gym but all the other fighters he contacts on a regular basis, that he would/should have known exactly what everyone was making before he began to negotiate?”

    Neither of these statements coincide with history. Take a look back, what is the single biggest difference between now and when randy signed in Jan 07? THe difference was shogun, wandy, fedor (offered contract), rampage and cro cop had not fought or had their base salaries made public (so the “only” difference wasn’t just fedor). He had no idea what these guys were making or were going to make when he signed his contract. Plus you keep missing the point here, he is upset about the bonus structure which apparently seems to be very under the table (you get that with mobsters children).

    “When has Randy ever said in all this BS that the UFC held out his bonus from the Gonzaga fight? This never played into the “resignation” at any point of the interviews that have been conducted.”

    “I’d have to say you’re the one who’s generalizing with the statement he got no bonus”

    Josh Gross said it on the beatdown. Josh was the first one to talk to randy after the resignation and stated that while randy got a bonus(this is not the ppv bonus) after the sylvia fight he did not receive one after the GG fight (this came from randy himself, who doesn’t seem like the type that lies). One of the reasons that you may not have seen it is that there really hasn’t been any in depth interview yet with randy and the details of the situation. I believe it was on the friday edition of last week.

    “. And if you want to get into, what really makes Randy the best Heavyweight Champion ever? He’s held the belt multiple times, but who was he beat for the belt? Tim Sylvia and Gabe Gonzaga? Give me a break, Gonzaga wasn’t even a top heavyweight until Randy came back.” (my note: why does it matter that GG wasn’t considered a top heavy when randy came back? It only really matters when they fight)

    Yeah, those two guys you just mentioned, they were top ten heavyweights. GG was coming off 4 straight UFC victories, one in which he destroyed another top 10 guy (cro cop). So yeah, lets “get into it” Go ahead and name me another Heavyweight fighter that has 2 wins over top 10 guys in the last year ?

    Barnett and Rizzo? You are talking about fights that happened 5-6 years ago. A lot has happened since then. Most of all randy has improved and I don’t even think that is debatable.

    “It’s the number 1 show in town bro, doubting that just makes you look like a goof. If they didn’t have the #1 HW (which I think Randy was over Fedor anyway) they have 2-10.”

    Did I say that they don’t have the best show in town Bro? Go ahead and find that in my post. LOL So they have 2-10 in the heavy division? well by my count they are missing 4 out of the top 10 including 3 out of the top 4 so I guess that makes you the goof.

    “Again, to bring up the Fedor argument, they have never had Fedor, so why did he come bacK?”

    “Randy was adamant that he came back to fight Tim Sylvia and show people how a Champion should behave.”

    You just answered you own question within one post. Congrats. LOL

    “When he was retired, in the UFC’s eyes, he was *the* biggest free agent to be signed out there. He had name recognition in the UFC and he was everyone’s hero, he was the man”

    Ok now that statement is just demonstrably false. He was 43 and coming off of two losses to chuck. Nobody considered him to be the biggest free agent out there and there hasn’t been a shred of evidence that claims he was even being pursued by anyone else.(he was an underdog in both of his last 2 fights) Once again you are getting your facts mixed up.

    “Hilarious how fanboys always like to personally attack other posters.”

    I am not attacking you, I just can’t believe anyone can be that stupid. You seem unable to grasp the very basic concepts of this situation. Your post contain numerous falsehoods and laughable assumptions.

    “..you’re drinking the kool-aid dude..”

    “I’m big on the UFC”

    nuff said, I am done embarrassing you

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  • BearTap says:

    “Ok now that statement is just demonstrably false. He was 43 and coming off of two losses to chuck. Nobody considered him to be the biggest free agent out there…”

    “You would rather see 2 guys each coming off of back to back losses than watch the greatest UFC heavyweight champ..”

    So, you’re saying he’s gone from being an over the hill nobody, to being the greatest UFC heavyweight champ in two fights against guys who are ranked on 5 oz’s rankings as 7 for Gonzaga and Sylvia isn’t even ranked? Based on your reasoning, if Gonzaga would have beaten Randy, with the Cro Cop win, he would have been the greatest UFC HW of all time.

    “..(of course not, thats the whole point randy is trying to make, he is worth more now than before that fight, contract be damned)…”

    So, because he won two fights he wasn’t supposed to win he gets to renegotiate in the middle of a contract? Kos should have asked for a raise after Diego then and Forrest after Shogun.

    “..they don’t have the best show in town..”

    See how easy it is to find with cut and paste? Taking sections of a statement really does the argument no justice. When you want to talk straight up instead of snips, let me know. I’m always down for “intellectual discussion”

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  • dice says:

    Holy shit you are stupid.

    “So, you’re saying he’s gone from being an over the hill nobody, to being the greatest UFC heavyweight champ in two fights against guys who are ranked on 5 oz’s rankings as 7 for Gonzaga and Sylvia isn’t even ranked? Based on your reasoning, if Gonzaga would have beaten Randy, with the Cro Cop win, he would have been the greatest UFC HW of all time.”

    No, I am saying everyone else though he “was” over the hill. Therefore he wasn’t the greatest free agent before he beat 2 top ten guys. Its seems like you are having trouble understanding my post and instead have to jump to conclusions that aren’t being made. Almost as though you have some handicap.

    Your right, he isn’t the greatest heavyweight champ because he beat those 2 guys. Nor do I even say that is solely the reason, so you just made that up. I am saying it because he is 5 time UFC champion in 2 different weight classes. Its called history douchebag.

    “See how easy it is to find with cut and paste? Taking sections of a statement really does the argument no justice. When you want to talk straight up instead of snips, let me know. I’m always down for “intellectual discussion””

    Unfortunately you don’t know the meaning of the “context”. When I copy and paste your arguments its to show how downright stupid you are and how you can even go one post without contradicting yourself (numerous times I might add, quite an impressive feat). So yeah it does do the argument justice. You are always down for “intellectual discussion”? I think you have shown otherwise. I am sorry I exposed you for the retarded hack you are. Anybody reading theis discussion can see that you are a sad UFC fanboy who is upset your “hero” left and you don’t have the mental capacity to make sense of it.

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    *yawn*

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