Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Couture is expected to make his UFC debut later this year. Will his father be allowed to corner him? Maybe, maybe not.
The good news is, UFC President Dana White isn't going to punish junior for his father's decision to sign with Spike TV, who can now be considered the only real competition ZUFFA has left at this point. That's not to suggest anyone in "Sin City" is quaking in their boots, but hey, this is the fight game.
Let them fight.
Caught in the crosshairs is mini-natural, who is accustomed to having his pop corner him for his mixed martial arts (MMA) fights. That might be a problem for his UFC debut, since White has unofficially banned Couture Sr. from any and all future events.
Randy tells Knockout Radio (via MMA Weekly) he's ready to address that issue when the time comes.
"My only real concern is my son and I've been a big part of Ryan's career, certainly a big part of his last three training camps as he's moved up in competition. I've helped him formulate some of those game plans in some of those camps and cornered him for his last three fights, so if that's what Ryan needs and that's what Ryan wants, then I am certainly willing to walk across that and address that issue, if Dana tries to preclude me from being a part of Ryan's career. I think at the end of the day it's a commission issue. Commission licenses the athletes and licenses the seconds and so, I don't know, I want to make whatever the best decision is for Ryan. I don't want to cause any more trouble for Ryan with the organization."
Couture, understandably, could be more of a hindrance than a help if his presence becomes a distraction, or puts his son in a negative light with his new employer. Ryan told MMA Hour he would like to have his dad by his side, but doesn't intend to push the issue.
"Obviously it's good to know I have a home in UFC. I'm happy to be there and I definitely wasn't hoping to be released. I feel like it's been a long process and I've worked hard to get there. I really want to make a go at it and be successful there. So I'm happy to know I have the opportunity. The flip side of that is that dad's not welcome in the corner. It's unfortunate. That's definitely a loss both personally and professionally, but we'll do what we gotta do there. The UFC's where I want to be, and if that's what it takes, then I'll work with it. The more I can minimize anything extraneous that's going to distract from it, the better. If we could have a conversation about it and sort of plead our case for maybe making a change down the line, then I would like that, but I'm not going to hold my breath."
When contacted by MMAmania.com, Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), said he wasn't in a position to speculate on how the situation might unfold, but reiterated that it was up to the fighter to choose his corner, just as it was up to the commission to license them.
Not that it matters, since his first fight is in Sweden (see who he's fighting here).
If he eventually competes stateside, Couture can choose to have his dad corner him for a UFC event and the local athletic commission can license him. But whether or not "The Natural" could actually get into the building on fight night, well, that remains to be seen.
Though I wouldn't want to be the rent-a-cop charged with trying to stop him.