UFC President Dana White on Randy Couture Signing with Bellator: 'I Love It'
Apparently, Dana White isn't too worried about one of his most famous former fighters going to work for his biggest business rival.
As originally reported by Sports Illustrated journalist Loretta Hunt, Couture will be working closely with his new partners in a variety of programs on the SPIKE cable channel—not least of which is being a coaching stint on Bellator's upcoming reality TV series.
White broke his silence on the issue in a response to a fan question on Twitter, surprisingly giving his approval of Couture's new opportunity:
Such a stance may be a shock to those familiar with the vitriolic promoter, who recently had several negative things to say at length about Bellator, SPIKE, parent company Viacom and their business practices—specifically stemming from a legal battle over the contract of top-ranked lightweight Eddie Alvarez (via MMA Fighting):
I saw in their argument where they said, 'Oh, Spike launches pay-per-views.' No, actually they don't. That's not true. We did. What they're doing is, they're saying -- not as much Spike, as Viacom -- has been saying, ‘We built the UFC.' No you f--king did not. No you did not, you arrogant, pompous jackass. You did not build the UFC. We'll see if you did.
But you better think long and hard if you're a manager or a fighter and you're about to do a deal with Bellator. Think long and hard about how you negotiate that contract.
However, Couture is one of the unique MMA athletes who has the latitude to sign with Bellator MMA and not worry about contract issues.
For one, Couture has been retired since a second-round knockout loss against former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 129. That definitively spelled the end of his active fighting career after 13 long years in MMA, stemming back to his first appearance at UFC 13.
Moreover, Couture's had his own legal issues with the UFC in the past (via Yahoo Sports and MMA Weekly), as the two-division light heavyweight and heavyweight champion had temporarily left the company in 2007 due to salary disputes.
Additionally, the UFC's inability to arrange a bout with then-No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Fedor Emelianenko played a part in Couture's departure. Eventually, "The Natural" returned to Zuffa in November 2008 for a title match against WWE star Brock Lesnar at UFC 91, marking the legend's 15th and final championship fight.
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