When it was announced earlier this week UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture had signed with Spike and will be coaching on Bellator’s upcoming reality series, it came as a surprise to many who had long associated Couture as being part of the UFC.
Even though he had retired from active competition, Couture had recently been doing UFC fight analysis during Fox broadcasts, and according to UFC President Dana White, was still under contract.
At Thursday’s UFC 156 pre-fight media scrum, White was asked if he felt betrayed by Couture going to work for Bellator and Spike. White replied:
“Randy Couture comes off as the greatest thing in the world, Captain America. He’s the furthest thing from it. And I’m happy not to be in business with him anymore. Now I don’t ever have to be in business with him ever again.”
One of the media members from the scrum said, “That’s got to be a surprising statement for a lot of fans.” White continued:
“Not for a lot of people that know him it won’t be; 99.9% of the people, that won’t be shocking at all, that know him, people that actually really know him, not people that watch him on TV.”
White then went into much more detail about his feelings in a one-on-one with Ariel Helwani:
“When that whole thing went down with Randy a few years ago, we weren’t on the best of terms. Now before that happened, Randy Couture was on the Chuck Liddell / Matt Hughes deal. He was getting a salary, he was in the company, he was one of the guys. So then he does this stuff, tries to pull all this bulls– that he tried to do with Affliction. Right? Loses, then comes back. So, it took me a long time to warm up to him. His lawyer, whom I can’t stand, keeps calling our lawyer everyday, ‘We wanna come back, we want that job again, we wanna work in the UFC’, and all this stuff. Finally, I said yes and give him the Fox deal. He doesn’t even finish his contract. He’s got one more fight left, and he bails on the contract and goes and does this. Randy Couture has this ‘Captain America’ image and stuff like that. Randy Couture’s not a good guy. Never been a good guy. And when I say this I mean this, I couldn’t mean it any more. I am happy he went there. I’m happy that he’s there.I never have to deal with Randy Couture ever again. In a nutshell that’s what happened.”
Mixed martial arts fans who were around and remember the atmosphere when Couture went to Affliction, and the press conferences and everything when he left the UFC because he wanted to go fight Fedor, can probably sympathize with White here.
But every situation like this always has two sides, so until we hear from Couture, it’s probably best to withhold judgment. In the end, it may just be about money. Maybe it’s a better paying gig for Couture? Or maybe he believes in what Bellator is doing. One thing is pretty certain though, Couture’s UFC bridge just got burnt to the ground.