In a new “Mailbag” article on Yahoo! Sport, Kevin Iole is quoting non-UFC sources as indicating that former UFC champion Randy Couture consented to a contract before coming out of retirement in March that would have paid him a total of $13 and $15 million for four fights:
Non-UFC sources say that the contract Couture negotiated and signed before his comeback fight against Tim Sylvia in March is for four fights and between $13 million and $15 million, which puts him behind only Chuck Liddell, at four fights and $17 million, in the UFC salary pecking order. Those numbers are believed to include percentages of pay-per-view money.
The UFC has guarded such financial information with great care. UFC president Dana White is willing to address just about any topic, except money. For Couture’s alleged earnings to be released to the public says a lot.
White complained about Internet sites speculating over what fighters make and criticized fighters for talking too much to each other about salary and I wonder if this is the kind of article that White dislikes?
When fighters hear the info of what Couture may have been paid, they are going to talk even more and some may start talking to the UFC and asking for a better deal. A big reason why the UFC is so protective of compensation numbers is so that the numbers can’t be used against them at the negotiation table.
I think it’s a certainty that an agent or manager is going to cite the Yahoo! article during contract negotiations saying something to the effect of, “If you’re paying Couture and Liddell over $10 million a year, why can’t you pay my guy $10,000 for a fight?” Since Iole is quoting a non-UFC source, the UFC can easily deny the accuracy of the claim.
The estrangement between Randy and the UFC is not good for the sport. MMA needs a trailblazer like the UFC to grow the sport and elevate the sport’s stature within the mainstream. But the sport also needs a star as skilled and esteemed as Couture to help win over detractors. The UFC needs a signature star and who better than a man such as Couture? While he may only have a few fights left in him, having him attached to the product even after his retirement would be a tremendous asset.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail several months from now. In the meantime, hopefully both sides will call a ceasefire.
Iole also feels Couture could have handled his resignation from the UFC better:
Couture handled the situation as poorly as he could have. He was in South Africa filming a movie when he made the announcement. He would have come off a lot classier had he been in the U.S. and faced the media to answer the tough questions.
To read the article in its entirety, just click here.