October 30, 2007
UFC takes swings at CoutureLeague denies fighter's claims
By JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Sun Media
UFC brass punched holes into heavyweight champ Randy Couture's claims he was underpaid and under promoted yesterday.
UFC President Dana White and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta did something the fight club has never done before — opened their books.
And though it was a mere glimpse into a small corner of the multi-million dollar fighting machine, it was one the UFC bosses hope will put to rest accusations by Couture that he was poorly treated. “I felt that the statements that he made, had so grossly misrepresented facts, we had to protect ourselves,” said the media-shy Fertitta, who added that he personally negotiated the deal that brought Couture out of retirement last January.
UFC chief financial officer John Mulkey showed how Couture will make nearly $3-million this year. Earlier this month, Couture rocked the fight world by announcing his abrupt resignation from the UFC saying it lacked respect for him.
Couture told a press conference last week that he was upset that he didn't get a signing bonus when he came out of retirement.
According to the UFC, Couture asked for and received a signing bonus of $500,000 for his return fight against Tim Sylvia at UFC 68. He received half upon signing and the other half following the fight.
Mulkey walked through Couture's contract.
For UFC 68, Couture received a total of $1.186 million dollars. Couture was paid $250,000 as his fight salary, his $250,000 for his signing bonus, and a cut of the pay-per-view worth $936,000.
For his next fight, UFC 74, Couture earned $250,000 for his fight salary, a $35,000 bonus for Fight of the Night, and another $787,000 bonus as his cut of the 485,000 pay-per-view buys.
The contract also stated that Couture received $200,000 a year for his work as an ambassador an helping with sanctioning and another $56,000 he earned last year in commentating fees. UFC officials distributed photocopies of Couture’s bout agreements and his canceled checks to prove their figures.
Couture has said he receives about $750,000 per fight with salary and bonuses. White also took shots at comments made by Couture's wife Kim that the fight club didn't do enough to promote Couture.
“The guy became a big star because we got behind him and promoted him,” White said pointing to Couture's starring role in the first The Ultimate Fighter series and return visits as a paid consultant and guest coach.
White said that Couture's assertion that the UFC offered Pride heavyweight champ Fedor Emelianenko more money in a signing bonus than what Couture ever made in a fight, would never have happened. "I would have never let Fedor come in and make more money than Randy Couture," said White. White said the UFC will offer Couture a fight in early 2008, possibly against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
If Couture turns down the fight, White could could see that as a retirement and he'll arrange for the number one and two contenders to face off for the title.