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Was Couture due to make between $13-15 million?

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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.

17 COMMENTS
  • Dan Cruickshank says:

    I can’t wait until Iole goes back to boxing and Meltzer rightfully takes over the MMA stuff.

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  • Seth says:

    What’s the general consensus on Iole? Is he independent, a corporate wag somewhere in between?

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  • Mr. Takedown says:

    Seth – go to bloodyelbow.com and ask Luke Thomas to tell you all about Iole. Be sure to reserve a half hour and prepare for a profanity laced tirade.

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  • hbdale309 says:

    Iole is in Dana’s back pocket.

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  • Mike Rome says:

    What an idiot. Those are cap numbers, not what he was actually making.

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  • Ben Fowlkes says:

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  • Accomando says:

    Iole, the only non UFC entity ever seen on the “UFC Countdown” Shows.

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    Dana is in Iole’s back pocket, actually. Either way, he uses his access to Dana in the complete wrong way.

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  • According to non-UFC sources? Yeah right, I’m sure Dana White had some sort of influence. He just happens to slip this bit of information into the mailbag?

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  • bubbafat says:

    can you say SPIN. Iole’s just trying to put the UFC perspective out there. Because nobody believes what they’ve said up untill now. The problem is alot of people are gonna read this article and make up their mind without knowing who wrote it. So they are simply gonna think that it’s an objective piece of journalism. It’s too bad for the sport that D.W. and Zuffa always seem to take the low road. Just tell us the truth. How does it look when Houston Alexander renegotiates his contract after 1 fight, while Randy does the almost impossible for 250k.

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  • dizzle says:

    Doens’t matter what has happened now. Randy is gone and the UFC will be just fine without him…they were fine when he retired the first time.

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  • Jeremy says:

    I haven’t been on Randy’s side since the beginning on this issue, but I don’t even believe that article.

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  • Mr. Takedown says:

    Kid Nate over at BE has a great quote regarding Yahoolie’s latest:

    “Nice work Kevin, when you get the taste of Dana’s taint out of your mouth give me a call sometime and I’ll tell you the difference between an armbar and a kimura and the difference between covering a sport as a journalist and serving as a transcriber for a sports executive.”

    http://bloodyelbow.com/story/2007/10/17/13715/889

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  • Zack says:

    I’ve never understood how shills go to sleep at night. Unless it’s on a pile of money so high that they get altitude sickness.

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  • Seth says:

    Guess that answers my question about Iole.

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  • robnashville says:

    I dislike Iole’s work just as much as the next guy but let us look at the actual meat of what he has to say. The 13 to 15 million figure is not as far fetched as it might seem, though it would represent the very upper ceiling of what he could expect to make. In order for Randy to make that amount he would have to get a percentage similiar to what Chuck and Tito got for their second fight. It was reported (by Meltzer) that that PPV did about 1.2 million buys and that each guy brought home about $3 million apiece in bonuses. That breaks down to a percentage payout of probably $1 million for every 400k PPV buys. Randy would have to basically equal the highest selling UFC PPV each time out to get the $13 million over four fights. Randy has never shown the ability to draw on that level, but i don’t doubt that dana may have offered him that amount. I doubt that Randy’s fights against Big Tim and GG did over 800 buys. Just a guess on my part but i would guess that randy probably made $1.5 to $2 million for each of those fights when base pay and bonuses are totaled up.

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  • Mike Rome says:

    The last post is about right. However, with rumors of the Gonzaga fight doing about 700k+, while Chuck/Jardine is rumored to have done 5-600k, it suggests Randy is now the bigger draw. Jardine is a more well known fighter than Gonzaga, who can’t even speak English to hype up his fights. Given his immense value in commentating, hype, and as an ambassador for the company, he should at least be on Chuck’s deal. It’s a no brainer.

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