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UFC files suit against Randy Couture

Posted on: January 15, 2008 6:00 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2008 12:31 pm
The Las Vegas Review Journal broke the news that the UFC filed a lawsuit against Randy Couture on Monday, charging breach of contract and dealing "injurious falsehood and trade disparagement" to the company, leading to financial loss.

The story reported that the UFC is suing Couture for a figure north of $10,000. Doesn't sound like a lot, but hey -- it's "not about the money," right?

Everyone with connected brain cells saw this lawsuit coming, although the timing was a bit of a surprise, as was the apparent final straw. Reportedly, the addition of Team Xtreme Couture to the IFL this season sparked the breach of contract claim, since Couture is contractually prohibited from competing with the UFC directly or indirectly.

Keep in mind there are vast differences in interpretation between the UFC and Couture regarding his contract terms, and that's where the UFC and Couture both stand to lose the most in this divorce -- particularly, the two fights remaining on Couture's contract and just how obligated Couture is to fulfill those. Couture thinks he'll be free from the shackles if he just sits out until the term expires. The UFC thinks he owes them the two fights, term or no term, or else he must retire forever.

In comparison to that, the IFL issue seems rather trivial -- more like the excuse the UFC was waiting for to sic the lawyers on Couture, rather than a significant breach of exclusivity.

I'm not a legal expert, but when you consider things like lost revenue from PPV and DVD sales (not so much ticket sales, because the UFC is capable of filling an arena without Couture), the UFC would certainly be able to prove more damages if they waited a while for Couture's deal to run out. By choosing to sue Couture right now for a meager $10,000+, the point of the lawsuit seems less about damage recovery and more like Zuffa firing a warning shot.

In other words, before they reach the point of suing Couture for the big stuff -- if it gets that far -- they might want to give him a taste of how serious they are about holding him to his deal, on the chance that it will make Couture think twice about going the distance with them on the issues that matter most: Where he fights next, when, and for whom.

The most interesting part of this lawsuit is the conspiracy angle, and Zuffa's pledge that they will name Couture's partners in (alleged) misdeed during the trial. One can only assume Couture's representation will be fingered in the allegations. One might also speculate that M-1 or the IFL could be dragged into this, especially if the UFC alleges that Couture -- due to his still-valid UFC contract -- did not have the legal right to even field an offer from the IFL, much less accept it, even if his IFL involvement is in name and team ownership only.

Until more information comes out regarding the specific (alleged) conspirators, the exact wording of the contract terms at issue, and the nature of UFC's cool $10,000+ in losses, it's all speculation.

In the meantime, we get Tim Sylvia vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for a UFC heavyweight title that the UFC won't admit is vacant while Couture's contract is still unfulfilled. If this lawsuit succeeds in giving Couture cold feet about the bigger issues with his contract, he might come back. It's more likely, though, that this is the tip of the iceberg.

Since: Oct 17, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2008 3:00 pm

UFC files suit against Randy Couture

I should not rush t call him dishonorable, you are right about that.  But waiting out the contract without fighting in my opinion is a violation of the contract.  He is supposed to fight.  I am not sure exactly what happened so I am trying to only look at the obvious.  Perhaps UFC did not live up to some of their responsibilities.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2008 12:28 pm

UFC files suit against Randy Couture

Before we accuse Couture of lacking honor, let's remember a few things here.  The UFC isn't suing Couture on the basis of his fight contract, they're suing him on the employment contract as a TV personality.  He hasn't signed with anyone else and isn't actively promoting anything else, so he is, technically, honoring the contract.  That being said, yeah, he intends to wait out the contract without fighting.  But then again, the UFC is known to drop guys from their contracts if they don't feel they are interesting enough fighters (Ivan Salaverry).

I think what complicates this is the UFC's mysterious bonus system.  That's why Couture left in the first place.  He signed the contract, but with at least the implied understanding that the bonuses would continue as they had.  When they didn't, even after his main event victory against Gonzaga, he got understandably upset.  Basically, they should write the bonuses into the contracts, the way every other sport does.

Since: Oct 17, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2008 11:03 am

UFC files suit against Randy Couture

why wont they let that fight happen?  And why doesn't this guy retire.  If he rides out his contract, then sets up a fight with Feodor, what will he be, like 50 years old?  Geez.  Just finish what you promised to do, then retire to coaching and team ownership only AFTER that.  I think he has been punched too many times.  It would be right for the UFC to let him out of his contract or ride it out without fighting if it is because he wants to retire from combat, but not to go fight somewhere else or compete in the IFL.  That is wrong.  Would somebody please honor a f-ing contract in sports today?  I'm asking.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Is there anyone with a shred of honor left in the world.  Did he sign on the dotted line or not?

Since: Apr 2, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2008 4:30 pm

UFC files suit against Randy Couture

I would imagine that Randy has insulated himself in regards to his deal with IFL.  This entire incident seems to be the first REAL defeat that Dana White has had to endure.  Randy beats up the heavyweight division...Fedor won't deal with UFC because he only does 1 fight deals...and Fedor  vs. Randy is THE fight the people want to see....and Dana White can't make it happen.  This smells a little like Liddell-Silva, we get the fight, but it's a couple of years beyond the monumental event it could have been.

Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture will continue to be Dana White's foil.

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2008 12:53 pm

UFC files suit against Randy Couture

First, I have a question...had Randy himself agreed to fight / coach / commentary for the IFL?  Or is he just lending them his name by way of having a team from his company fight there?  ... There might not be a lot for the UFC to go after with regards to a breach of contract, if Randy has insulated himself (through the company Xtreme Couture) and the IFL.  That is, unless the UFC has a deal with Xtreme Couture...which I highly doubt.


As for whether or not Randy can just wait out the terms of his contract - the UFC is going to have an extremely hard time forcing Randy into perpetual retirement by insisting the next two fights he take be with their organization.  American courts look very narrowly onto adhesion contracts...especially those which prevent a person from working due to a "no-compete" clause.  They're enforceable, but are always limited in time.   (You know, we try to shy away from anything that hints of slavery...).

Since: Mar 6, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2008 3:39 am

UFC files suit against Randy Couture

Regardless what happens with the lawsuit, it seems too much bad blood has been spilled between the two parties for Couture to come back to the UFC.  The IFL move was just plain shortsighted on his part, unless that was his way of seeing what Zuffa might do.  Remember, his ultimate goal is to fight Feodor Emeliananko, and the UFC will never allow that.  If Couture could just quietly ride out his contract until October when it allegedly ends, the fans, Randy, and Feodor could all have the fifgt they've been waiting for.

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