Randy Couture's next move is foremost on the minds of those who closely follow mixed martial arts.
But bet on this: Couture will be in a suit in a court room before he's wearing board shorts preparing to fight Fedor Emelianenko any time soon.
Couture's resignation as UFC heavyweight champion and subsequent decision to sever all ties with the company dominated the reader response this week.
But before we get a sampling of what you had to say, here's a quick take on some of the key points in the case:
Have no doubt that Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks' owner, would-be Chicago Cubs owner and the fledgling MMA promoter, is somehow involved in the M-1 Mix Fight promotion that allegedly signed Emelianenko to a multi-million dollar contract last week. Cuban declined comment via e-mail when asked whether he is part of M-1.
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.
Couture believes he can be a free agent after sitting out nine months, which would mean he figures he can fight Emelianenko sometime in late spring or early summer of 2008.
UFC president Dana White insists Couture must fight twice for the UFC to fulfill his contract and become a free agent
Those differences of opinion are going to land the parties in court. After nine months, expect Couture to try to fight and the UFC to go to court to stop him. Couture will argue that time is of the essence, because he'll be nearly 45, and that if he isn't granted a court order and allowed to fight, he'll be irreparably harmed. The UFC will argue that its entire business will be undermined if Couture is allowed to break his contract.
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.
The winner of the Brandon Vera-Tim Sylvia fight on Saturday at UFC 77 in Cincinnati will meet Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the vacant heavyweight title sometime early next year.
Anyway, it's on to your thoughts, along with my (short) answers and comments. As always, my answers are in italics below the question.
One in every crowd
Didn't this donkey retire after he lost to some other donkey a couple of years ago? I was at a random party and saw two meatheads with disgusting ear lobes rolling around and could have sworn it was this loser who quit after he lost rolling around all sweaty with another loser. UFC? What clowns. Get a life.
Hey, folks, bet you didn't know Grayson was the captain of the Stanford debate team.
Is Fedor afraid? Fedor (Emelianenko) is a (chicken) who didn't want a piece of Randy. Randy should beat Chuck Liddell's (butt) before he retires.
The way you should have put that, Mike, is that Fedor's representatives didn't want to put their guy in the biggest fight out there without being sure they were getting every last dime.
Disappointed by the decision
I am shocked and saddened that Randy Couture is retiring! I believe he had a good four more fights left in him. I know a fight with Fedor would have been the pinnacle of his and Fedor's career. Fedor should read the reports and think carefully about it, because fighting for M-1 will not make him bigger than he was in Pride. He needs the UFC just as much as it needs him, plain and simple.
Couture did seem at times like he could go on forever. And as nasty as this thing may get, it may feel like forever to him before he fights again.
He was the best
Randy was a great champion and a great promoter of the sport, but at 44, he was on borrowed time. I'm glad to see him retire (hopefully for real this time) as a champion. This is a young man's game and like everything else, this too shall pass. The cool thing about him is, provided he stays retired, he'll always be regarded as the best and that's pretty damn cool.
Couture was and remains one of the most significant men in MMA history. He was a tireless promoter of the sport. No matter what he does from this point forward, that won't change.
Pride was better
Dana White is full of crap. Lots of it. Anyone who knows anything about MMA knows that Pride holds the elite fighters in the world, men who have an entirely superior skill level to those of UFC fighters. White mentions some of the weakest fighters Fedor has encountered, but fails to mention the dozens of genuine badasses he's taken down throughout his career. Dana White needs to wake up and realize that Couture can never defeat Fedor. I'd bet my first born child on it, too.
Don't do that, Adam. Better to buy a condom and save the kid the trauma.
Come clean, Dana
If White is so concerned about rumors and falsehoods being spread on the Internet, then why doesn't he just make the fighters' purses or salaries public? It seems to me that pretty much every major sport makes the salaries of the athletes public. If he would just come out and tell everyone what these guys are getting paid, that would probably be a pretty effective deterrent to all of the rumors. However, that would put the fighters on a level playing field when it comes time to negotiate, and Lord knows White doesn't want that.
Amen. How to handle the UFC's non-disclosure of fighter salaries has been a huge problem for me and other journalists. I have long believed the fighters should get every cent they can for what they do. But I also don't begrudge the promoters making a profit. There was one major UFC fighter who was telling me about a contract that would pay him millions. But when he fought, his salary was listed as far less than $100,000. He didn't want to talk publicly about his contract for fear of irritating White.
But if the information were public, like it is in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL, the rumors wouldn't spread like they do. It seems that Dana is creating the problem he professes to loathe with this secrecy.
Take on Rampage
Why doesn't Couture fight Quentin "Rampage" Jackson? Is he scared he might get whipped?
Jackson is a light heavyweight and Couture a heavyweight. But Couture's wrestling would have made him a strong favorite had these two ever fought.
A different take
Some of us couldn't wait for Couture to leave. I've been a fan since UFC 1. Couture couldn't beat Chuck Liddell and his return from the first retirement to face Tim Sylvia was picking on a fighter who was not as well-rounded. Yes, Couture sandbagged to get that title. I will say he defended his title well against Gabriel Gonzaga, but Chuck had his number. So he jumps up a weight class to regain a belt? Wah! Fedor has nothing to prove and fighting an old man like Couture might be a waste of time for him.
Couture has been doing other TV shows and now movies, so for "Captain America" to be bitching about money certainly changes his image for me. The UFC kisses his butt enough! What does he want, the keys to the place? Some of us can't wait for Liddell, Couture and especially Matt Hughes to leave. It's time for new young blood to be spilled.
I received a surprising amount of feedback from people who agreed with you, Steve. As a fan, you're entitled to root for who you want, but the one thing you can't say about Couture is that he looked for easy fights. The opposite was clearly the case.
Do you think Randy Couture retired to avoid a steroid allegation?
No, especially since he never tested positive. This is simply and solely a battle over money.
Kevin, I'm curious. You didn't mention Rampage Jackson in your column when you were talking about UFC ticket sellers. Does he not have drawing power?
Rampage should have been included. I overlooked him, but I think he's one of the UFC's brightest hopes for a big drawing card. As punishment, I'm going to watch the Evander Holyfield fight again.
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