Randy Couture Leaves the UFC

This day already had a lot of news going around. Well I’ve got some news alright.

Brian Knapp of The Fight Network is reporting that UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture has decided to leave the UFC, citing the UFC’s failure to sign Fedor Emelianenko as one of the main reasons for him walking away:

In South Africa shooting scenes for his lead role in the upcoming feature film “The Scorpion King – Rise of the Akkadian,” Couture made the announcement official in a letter to UFC president Dana White. The UFC’s inability to land PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko played a prominent role in the decision to walk away, according to Couture.

“I appreciate this opportunity the sport of MMA and the UFC has given me,” the UFC Hall-of-Famer said. “However, I’m tired of swimming upstream at this stage with the management of the UFC. It only makes sense at this point in my career to fight Fedor Emelianenko, and since he’s now signed with another organization, I feel like it’s time to resign and focus on my other endeavors.”

This is absolutely insane. I don’t even know what to say right now. A huge blow to the UFC. I’ll have more on this throughout the day/night.

Update 3:07 PM: MMA Weekly has confirmed Couture’s resignation from the UFC with representatives of the Xtreme Couture training facility.

Some immediate reaction from the fellow blogs and others:

Five Ounces of Pain: Report: Randy Couture leaves the UFC!
Bloody Elbow: HUGE NEWS: Randy Couture Leaves UFC
MMA Junkie: Report: After UFC’s Failure to Sign Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture Leaves UFC
UFC Mania: No Fedor, No Couture: Reigning UFC heavyweight champion resigns
Wrestling Observer: Couture quits UFC
MMA HQ: Randy Couture Leaves UFC
UFC Daily: Report: Randy Couture Leaving the UFC, Vacating Heavyweight Title
Sprawl N’ Brawl: Couture leaves the UFC!!
411 Mania: Randy Couture Quits UFC

FOX Sports seems to be the only “mainstream” news source to have picked up on the story so far.

Update 3:32 PM: Sherdog chimes in with some exclusive quotes from Couture himself:

“The motivation for the decision is two-fold,” he continued. “I know Fedor (Emelianenko) just signed with another organization and that’s the only real fight that makes sense for me at 44 years old as the heavyweight champion of the UFC. That’s the fight I wanted and if that can’t happen it doesn’t make sense for me to compete with all these other guys. And then obviously that’s not going to happen now. And, two, I’m tired of being taken advantage of, played as the nice guy and basically swimming against the current with the management of the UFC. I have a lot of other things going on in my life that I’m doing just fine with. I don’t need the problems. I don’t feel like I get the respect I deserve from the organization, and that’s motivation No. 2 for the letter of resignation that was sent today.”

So it seems that Couture’s decision goes far deeper than just the UFC failing to grab Fedor. It’s almost like a flashback of 1997, when Couture first encountered problems with the UFC.

Update 4:08 PM: UFC President Dana White has released this official statement on the situation:

“I’m not surprised at all by Randy’s decision. I talked to Randy several weeks ago and he said that if he couldn’t fight Fedor, then he has nothing left to prove in the sport of mixed martial arts.

He has been doing a lot of acting, and I know he is in South Africa right now filming a movie. I think it’s a great move for Randy’s acting career to retire from fighting while he is on top.

As we all know, Randy retired before. The landscape in MMA changes every day. So when he is ready to come out of retirement again, he is still under contract with me, and I’m ready to promote him.”

Couture’s agent has stated that Randy’s contract was on a fight-by-fight basis. However Dana says that Randy is still under contract with him no matter what. Hmm…

Update 5:32 PM: An official statement via Randy’s official site.

More reaction:

CP: Couture retires from UFC
Baltimore Sun: Shocker! Randy Couture quits UFC
Yahoo! Sports: Couture stuns MMA world with retirement
NBC Sports: For Couture, a matter of Pride
Five Ounces of Pain: Randy Couture and Dana White release statements

More and more people are pointing out that Randy hasn’t announced his “retirement” which continues to lead me to believe that a battle between Couture and White is inevitable when it comes to Couture’s status with the UFC. Of course this could all mean nothing if White’s remarks about his promotion of Couture were just like his claiming of Josh Barnett still being under contract with Zuffa earlier this year.

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