Exclusive: IFL Comments on UFC Champion Randy Couture
Jan 11, 2008
So, what is Randy Couture's involvement in the IFL Mixed Martial Arts league? Rumors have been swirling around the MMA world regarding the reigning UFC Champion, whose contract dispute or retirement (depending on whose legal analysis you listen to - UFC's or Couture's) has left him in a very interesting situation.
Couture, under contract to UFC, appeared at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Chris Horodecki's corner for the main event of IFL's Grand Prix Finals on December 29th, which was broadcast on billionaire Mark Cuban's HDNet. Earlier in December, IFL co-founder Kurt Otto mentioned Couture's name as a possible coach during the IFL's conference call to discuss their plans for 2008, but wouldn't commit to anything in terms of Couture's appearances.
"It was a great publicity ploy that blew up in Otto's face," commented Mmanewsdesk.com editor Arturo Collozo Jr., "the whole situation with Couture is so interesting because no one really knows what legal ground they're standing on." Collozo confronted IFL Manager of Public Relations regarding Couture's involvement, and Milani issued us the following EXCLUSIVE statement:
"Couture has worked corners for Jay Hieron and Benji Radach at the last two IFL events, the World Grand Prix semifinals in Chicago on Nov.3 and the finals (in the corner of Chris Horodecki) in Connecticut on Dec. 29." JERRY MILANI IFL MANAGER OF PUBLIC RELATIONS.
Then came the announcement this week that IFL will use Randy's "Xtreme Couture" Camp as one of the featured camps for the IFL, which has abandoned the "team" concept and is now pitting 3 members of famous "camps" against each other. The announcement lead to reports that Couture himself was joining IFL as a coach. Yet Couture had issued no statement. Or at least yet.
Mmanewsdesk.com then asked Milani, "Will (Couture) be appearing on television, for example? Can Randy, as the leader of Xtreme Couture, be used in advertising an upcoming show they are participating in?
No matter what the answer is, it would be interesting. The reports about Couture doing MMA for someone other than UFC have been running rampant. Even just seeing Couture in Horodecki's corner while in this legal
situation with UFC was a very surreal sight.
Kurt Otto's comments back in December were very vague in terms of whether IFL could use Couture. Otto told reporters on the conference call that Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture (mentioning those two names specifically) could bring in 3 fighters each from Team Punishment and Xtreme Couture to challenge current IFL camps. "We are also excited about the ability to have this open-door policy, where globally any camp that wants to put together three guys in the weight classes we would specify for that particular event, they're invited to compete," Otto said.
"They show up with those three guys in that weight class, they can get in the mix. In the past we didn't allow that. For instance, if Tito Ortiz wants to promote Team Punishment and promote Team Punishment fighters, he can do that." So what was the real deal? Jerry Milani got back to us with an official statement: "At the moment, it is Team Xtreme Couture, referring
to his gym, with the official coach To Be Determined."
So for now, that will have to do. But UFC is crowning a new Interim UFC World Heavyweight Champion in Las Vegas at UFC 81 : Breaking Point when Tim Sylvia fights Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. Will a unification match take place? Will Randy's dream of a fight with Fedor Emanianenko come true, on or off UFC turf?
The greatest fight in UFC history, the behind the scenes maneuvering surrounding Randy Couture's falling out with the world's most recognizable MMA league, continues to be a fascinating drama to watch.
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