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With the rumors and conflicting stories circulating about the possible sale of the UFC, everyone involved with mixed martial arts is weighing in on the future of the biggest organization in all of MMA.
Former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture offered his take on the situation during an appearance on ESPN100.
"I've heard a strong rumor that it is sold,” Couture said. “... Lorenzo's [Fertitta] out. Dana [White] is still in. Four-billion-dollar price tag, somewhere thereabouts. I heard from fairly reliable sources that that's happening."
Couture conducted the interview prior to a FloCombat story saying Zuffa had accepted a $4.2 billion bid for the UFC. Couture’s take bears many similarities, but the UFC is vehemently denying that the company has been sold.
Couture stands as one of the most prominent figures to compete in the UFC; he started his career there back at UFC 13 in 1997 and fought his final fight for the organization in 2011 at UFC 129. He’s been there during the dark ages and helped pull it into greener pastures as a beloved fighter and also was a coach for the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter."
So Couture's opinions on the promotion are worth hearing, even if his relationship with the organization has been a bit turbulent, to say the least. And even he was shocked at the massive selling price that has been discussed.
"That's a crazy number,” Couture said. “We were doing the first season of 'The Ultimate Fighter.' They were [$40 million] down and spent another 11 to get that show on the air. We were very concerned they were going to sell the company or the sport, under that brand, would die for sure."
The sport is arguably more popular than it has ever been with the emergence of stars such as Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. And that has fueled speculation that the company would eventually sell when it was at its peak. However, the idea of Dana White retaining his position as UFC president doesn’t necessarily sit well with the 52-year-old.
“If the UFC has a problem right now as a brand, it's an image problem,” Couture said. “How they act and how they treat the fighters and the things that they do with their fighters that are in their stable and lot of that trickles down from [Dana White] - his attitude. His attitude when he does interviews. His attitude when he deals with the media. His attitude when he deals with his fighters.”
It's worth noting that Couture and White haven’t always seen eye to eye on matters and that could be playing a role in the retired fighter’s opinion. But Couture ultimately feels that White needs an attitude adjustment if the company is going to climb higher under new ownership.
“I don't understand. If I bought the company and wanted to change that or take it to the next level, I'm thinking you need a change of face, you need a change of image,” Couture said.
“They need somebody to show them the ropes. But are those really the ropes you want to be shown? Some of those ropes are pretty sour in my mind."