Sherdog.com is reporting that current UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture has suffered another legal setback in his quest to win his contractual freedom from the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa.
Dallas Mavericks and HDNet owner Mark Cuban, acting on Couture’s behalf, had been trying to arrange for a motion for a summary judgment declaring Couture’s contractual status and for it to be heard in a Texas court and away from Zuffa’s home state of Nevada.
Zuffa had filed for a motion to be granted a stay from having the matter ruled on outside of Nevada, which is where the contract had been executed. On Friday, that motion was granted and pending an appeal, Cuban will not be able to have a ruling made on Couture’s current status decided by a Texas court.
The matter is still not closed though, as Cuban is expected to appeal the court’s decision to the Texas Supreme Court.
According to Sherdog, the legal dispute between Zuffa and Couture will now shift back to Las Vegas. The site indicates that arbitration hearings have commenced to try and bring forth a resolution that will end the nine months of contentious relations between the two parties. It is unclear if a settlement of some kind could be a realistic possibility.
Couture’s fight contract with the promotion expired on July 19. When the five-time UFC champion initially handed in his resignation last October, it was his position that he would be eligible to fight for another organization once his fight contract expired. However, Zuffa maintains that in order for Couture to satisfy the contract, he must not only meet the requirements of the duration of the agreement, but also the number of fights. Couture still has two fights remaining on his current UFC contract.
Couture is also subject to a one-year non-compete clause as a result of an employment agreement he signed with the UFC in order to serve as a commentator and ambassador for the promotion. The non-compete will expire on Oct. 11.
An additional wrinkle is that to date Couture has never been stripped of the UFC heavyweight title in spite of his attempt to resign from the organization. It is believed that the UFC continues to recognize him as its heavyweight champion because he could be subject to an extended contractual obligation to them through a “champions” clause that prevents him from becoming a free agent so long as he is a title holder.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com contacted Couture’s agent, Matt Walker, via e-mail for comment. As of press time, he had not responded to our request.