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Randy Couture relates to Francis Ngannou situation: UFC ‘wants to be able to control fighters’

UFC 129: Press Conference Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty

Randy Couture and Francis Ngannou now have more in common than just being former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champions.

Ngannou’s stance and belief in having certain contractual freedoms ultimately led to his departure from the promotion earlier this year. It wasn’t the first time the owner of the “World’s Baddest Man” label has done so, however.

Couture tried to do the same in the late 2000s, hoping to align a super fight with all-time great, Fedor Emelianenko. That bout never wound up coming together as Couture settled with the promotion after spending $500,000 in legal fees before finishing out his career in the Octagon. UFC offered “around $8 million” to Ngannou, the now-former champion recently disclosed. “The Natural” understands that it’s not just about that specific number in cases like these.

“The money they threw at Francis was pretty significant and probably as much as anybody’s gotten paid in our sport, but it was the other things ­— health insurance, a fighter’s representative, some of those things that he asked for that were outside of that, that caused them to drop him,” Couture told MMA Fighting. “They don’t want to give up that power.

“They don’t want to give up those things,” he continued. “They want to be able to control the fighters the way they want to control them. They don’t like that transparency. They keep those numbers pretty close to their vest so they don’t have to negotiate with fighters who know what their value is in the marketplace, that’s how that shakes out.”

Couture did his best to get the additional benefits he believed he deserved, which was one of the reasons he has never been in any UFC video game. With their similarities, Ngannou shared that he was told to, “go ask Randy” how battling UFC goes.

“The history is there,” Couture said. “When [Zuffa] bought the company, I took them to task over their ancillary rights and the crappy contract they were trying to force me to sign as their heavyweight champion. We asked and put some more clauses in there. The upside to that is I got a much better deal moving forward. The downside is they closed a bunch of the loopholes in those crappy contracts and made it more difficult for other fighters moving forward.

“I never spoke to Francis directly myself, but obviously Eric [Nicksick] is our head coach and our gym manager [at Xtreme Couture] and he was directly responsible for helping Francis shore up his wrestling and training for those fights against Stipe [Miocic] and the other fights he had in the UFC,” he added. “I talked to Eric a lot about my position and where I stood. I was the only guy chirping back in ’06, ’07. Trying to get a better deal in [2001] when they bought the company. Fighting for my ancillary rights in all that stuff, the video games, and all the other stuff that’s tied up in all of that.”

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