Photo courtesy of ProElite.
Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, scored the first of what might be multiple legal victories over current heavyweight champion Randy Couture yesterday in Las Vegas District Court.
Judge Jennifer Togliatti granted a motion for a preliminary injunction that will now prevent Couture from lending his name or likeness to any of the proceedings going on later tonight at the International Fight League’s scheduled event, where the Xtreme Couture gym was expected to field a team to compete.
Prior to the hearing, Xtreme Couture officials that they would have their fighters compete under the “Team Tompkins” banner at the event instead.
The injunction also leaves Couture unable to corner fighters from the gym at the event as well. However Couture publicly stated weeks ago that Shawn Tompkins would be heading the team at the event anyway.
Zuffa alleged that the IFL had posted an image bearing Couture’s likeness on the front of their official website. According to Couture, his staff immediately contacted the IFL and asked that it be removed right away and it was done so.
The lawsuit filed against Couture by Dana White and company concerning Couture’s promotional contract with the UFC has not yet been heard in court. Couture has requested the dismissal of the lawsuit. A preliminary hearing will take place on March 6th and will determine whether or not there will be a trial.
Zuffa’s case cites that Couture has 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. Xtreme Couture’s involvement with the IFL was also included in the suit via a claim that it is a direct violation of his contract with the UFC.
The suit will also attempt to collect up to $10,000 in damages from Couture and seek a restraining order that will prevent Couture from being involved with any other organizations that compete against the UFC. This comes after Couture resigned from the UFC last fall and has stated that he intends to sit out the remainder of his contract before fighting in another organization, hopefully against top-ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.
Mark Cuban and his HDNet Fights promotion filed suit in a Dallas, Texas district court in hopes of earning a declaratory judgment concerning the contractual status of Couture when it comes to his employment contract (the deal that dictates where Couture can fight).
The declaratory judgement will hopefully provide Cuban with an exact date as to when Couture’s contract expires with the UFC, if it expires at all.
HDNet Fights has also reportedly entered into a contractual agreement with Couture which will have the promotion attempt to set up a showdown between Couture and top ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko later this year.
The deal will likely go into effect at the time of the expiration of Couture’s promotional contract with Zuffa. Without some sort of deal in place, a Texas court will likely throw out HDNet Fights suit filed against the UFC’s parent company last week.
It is interesting to note in Cuban’s claims against Zuffa that he points out “indefinite employment restrictions” such as the ones set forth against Couture by Dana White and company since his resignation from the organization last fall are against the law.
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