Randy Couture. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The seemingly never-ending battle between the Ultimate Fighting Championship and it’s estranged heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, will now officially move back to Las Vegas after a Dallas, Texas appeals court blocked a separate Texas court from hearing Mark Cuban’s request for a declaratory judgment concerning the contractual status of Couture when it comes to the UFC on Friday.
Cuban is expected to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court next week. His HDNet Fights promotion reportedly entered into a contractual agreement with Couture back in February, thus the request for a decision on Couture’s contractual status. UFC parent company Zuffa originally filed to remove HDNet’s request back in March. The move was made because the suit was not filed in Nevada, where the company is based.
However “HDNet MMA 2008”, the name Cuban filed suit under, is a Nevada limited liability company. Zuffa also alleged that HDNet’s Nevada address was an attempt to manipulate the court’s jurisdiction, but the accusation fell on deaf ears. Now that Zuffa has the court battle back on their home turf, they have began to have closed-door arbitration hearings in an attempt to finally solve the battle that has now been ongoing for almost eight months now.
Even if he is granted free agency, Couture will still have to contend with a defamation suit Zuffa filed against him in January. The lawsuit cites that Couture made negative comments about the promotion and those involved with it’s management. They also stated that the comments have caused “irreparable damage” and that he has breached the employment contract he signed with the company. The accusations stem from the International Fight League’s attempts to field a team using the Xtreme Couture gym name.
Attempts to dismiss the above defamation suit were shot down by a Clark County, Nevada judge in March.
Couture resigned from the UFC last October, citing irreparable differences between the two sides and dissatisfaction with his salary and treatment, as well what others fighters were going through. Couture believes that his promotional contract with the company ended on July 19th and that he will now have to wait through a 60-day non-compete period before signing with another organization.
His employment contract with the UFC, of which Couture did television commentary and promotional appearances for the promotion, expires on October 11th. Zuffa contends that Couture’s interpretation of his promotional contract is wrong and that he still owns the organization two more fights before his deal is up.
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