For anyone who has been following the sport for any amount of time at all, the news that Dana White has butted heads with fighters in the past is nothing new.
But for sure, with news breaking that Randy Couture has signed a deal with Spike TV and will be acting as a coach for Bellator (in what looks to be a spinoff of The Ultimate Fighter), White will no doubt be making his opinions known of this development in the career of the UFC Hall of Famer.
One has to wonder what this can do for Bellator. For sure, it is a kind of moral victory given that Couture has long been one of the UFC’s greatest champions and will now be lending all the dignity and popularity of his name to its brand.
One also has to wonder how White is going to deal with this. Granted, Bellator is still in a distant second to the UFC, but with Couture as a coach on its new series, fans are going to turn in.
Couture and White have clashed before over company policy and contractual obligations and rights, which eventually ended with Couture resigning from the UFC.
Now, with Couture taking the next step in his career—working for a hated rival no less—it will be very interesting to see how White proceeds.
It’s not likely that White will be able to criticize the credentials of Couture without slandering his own house, but there is bound to be some kind of retaliation. After all, Couture has been with the Zuffa-led UFC since the beginning, and he has not only fostered good relationships with many great fighters, but he knows how the UFC machine works. Having a man with that kind of influence and information eating lunch with the big boys at Spike TV and Bellator has to have White feeling uncertain to say the least.
Now that he is no longer contractually tied to the UFC, it begs the question: Is Couture just taking advantage of a good deal, or is he doing this for personal reasons that speak to the past problems he had with Dana White and the UFC?
No doubt, we will be finding out much more very soon. But here are some things we do know...
From this point forward, Randy Couture and Dana White (and the UFC) are rivals at best and enemies at worse.
As far as White and Zuffa are concerned, Couture is bringing not only his experience as a fighter and his presence in the media into the Spike TV/Bellator fold, but he is bringing his understanding of the inner workings of the UFC machine and laying it all out on a table for the enemy to examine.
And in truth, they may be right, although we don’t know for sure; Couture has always been ethical about any kind of professional conduct, but he’s not longer beholden to the UFC in any way.
Secondly, Couture’s connections in the MMA fraternity of fighters and coaches cannot be underestimated. He’s made far more friends than enemies, and that could see him becoming every MMA fighters “friend at Bellator.”
That could lead to fighters taking a stronger stance for their own interests when dealing with the UFC on a variety of topics, and that is just the beginning.
Lastly, we know that in the eyes of some, seeing a fighter as estimable as Randy Couture working for a company so clearly aligned against the UFC is going to get them to asking questions.
What is going to happen when people begin to associate Couture’s past problems and battles with the UFC to those of other fighters? Will there be a connection made in the fanbase that gets people to criticizing how the UFC treats their fighters?
For years now, people have been claiming that there is simply no way another organization could rise up from the scorched earth where countless other organizations—Pride FC, Strikeforce, etc.—have all been buried.
But in truth, all it takes is a catalyst; that one thing that sets the wheels in motion.
For as many people who are happy and cozy within the UFC fold, there are a good number who are not, be it for reasons fair or unfounded; unrest is unrest, no matter the reason.
Add to that the fact that White has never been shy or bashful about voicing his opinion (no matter what toes he steps on) and you end up with a powerful ocean that is more stormy than scenic.
Now, who among us wouldn’t find the face of Randy Couture to be a warm and welcoming sight?
Especially when he knows of a perfect port to wait out the storm.