Former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture, who will coach up-and-coming fighters on a Bellator reality competition debuting this week, said he made the leap to the UFC's rival promotion after failing to receive a suitable offer from the UFC.
"I felt I wasn’t being really offered any significant role moving forward that was going to further my career and the legacy that I felt like I established in the sport," Couture said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast. "I was trying to give the UFC every opportunity to find a way to keep me with the company, and use me in some significant fashion, but they just really didn’t seem that interested."
In January, word came that Couture, who during his fight career clashed with the UFC behind the scenes over issues including fighter pay, had signed a multi-year deal with Viacom, parent company of Bellator and Bellator television partner Spike TV.
On Monday, Couture said that he was in talks with the UFC and had "offers on the table" from various groups, including Spike TV. Couture said he had planned a meeting of the minds late last year with UFC president Dana White to further explore his future with the UFC. But word of the Viacom offer went public before the meeting. Ironically, White's reaction to the offer essentially sealed the Viacom deal, Couture said.
"Unfortunately, like so many things in this sport, the offer being put on the table leaked somehow and [White] obviously went crazy," Couture said. "It was a done deal at that point."
Since retiring in 2011 at age 47, Couture has enjoyed big successes in entertainment and media. Before they parted ways, Couture served as a broadcaster for the UFC on Fox events (he was later replaced with Chael Sonnen). He also had a significant role in the movie The Expendables and its sequel.
Couture is one of four coaches who will be a part of the first season of Fight Master, which debuts this Wednesday on Spike. Couture is joined by fellow legend Frank Shamrock, world champion wrestler and former Bellator featherweight champ Joe Warren and Greg Jackson, one of MMA's top trainers.