"When I told you guys before that I'm happy, I'm telling you guys I'm happy that he's gone," White told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps
) at Saturday night's post-UFC 156 press conference. "I'm happy that he's gone and he's gone forever and he's with them."
"Them," of course, is Bellator MMA and their broadcast partners at Spike TV – the former longtime home of the UFC. Bellator officials have yet to formally announce Couture's new role with the promotion, but a Tuesday presser is scheduled at the company's California offices, and the UFC Hall of Famer is expected to be introduced as a coach on an upcoming reality series in addition to a few other roles.
White said it's not necessarily the fact that Couture elected to partner with Spike TV that upset him but rather how the former champion went about the move – especially since he bailed on a UFC on FOX broadcasting commitment the UFC boss said he practically begged to secure.
"Randy Couture, it was around Christmas time, and his lawyer sends in a letter and cancels, like bails on the last show that he's doing for us," White explained. "He doesn't want to do the last show after they begged me for a f---ing job. So I'm like, 'What the hell is going on here?' I start digging around, and I find out that he's talking about doing a deal with Bellator and Spike. I call his lawyer. I went 'me' on his lawyer is the best way I can explain it. Then I called Randy. I called him over and over and over again. He wouldn't even answer his phone. Then he texts me and said, 'What's up boss? I hear you're flipping out. I did not sign a deal with Spike or Bellator, but I'm talking to two other networks right now.'
"I said, 'If you tell me that you did not bail on my last f---ing fight and go do a deal with them, I don't give a s--- what network you sign with. I don't care if it's freaking HBO, the Food Network – I could care less who it is. Are you saying you did not sign a deal?'
"'I did not sign a deal with them. Stop worrying. Relax. Have a great Christmas. We'll talk later.' To this f---ing day sitting right here, right now, we still have not talked."
Couture and his representative, Sam Spira, recently declined to comment on the matter and are expected to remain silent until Tuesday's press conference. It's certainly not the first battle White has had with Couture, who took the UFC to court in 2007 in order to pursue opportunities outside of the promotion.
The outspoken White knows he's often perceived as hot-headed or irrational, but he insists that's not the case in this situation. Instead, the UFC boss blames Couture for not being honest about his intentions.
"We're not unreasonable people," White said. "I know I have this image like I'm some absolute lunatic that flies off the handle and just starts ruining lives for no reason whatsoever. It's f---ing ridiculous. If Randy Couture was a man, walked into our office and said, 'Here's the deal: I've got one more fight with you guys for the FOX thing. I'd like to do it. I have another offer on the table, and it's with f---ing Bellator. I need to make a living, too. Am I with you guys? Am I not with you guys? Do you want to match my deal? Do you want to beat my deal?'
"Or how about this: 'F--- you guys. I can't stand you, and I'm leaving. I thought I'd be a man about it and tell you to your face.' That's not Randy Couture.
"When I made the comment the other day about the 'Captain America' thing, ask anybody who's ever been in business with Randy Couture if they like being in business with Randy Couture. There's so much stuff that's out there that you don't even know. And whatever. The guy's going around making a living. There's the whole story, the way that it went down, and I respect him. There's no more of a man when that cage door closes, and there's no less of a man when he steps outside of it."
While it's clear that White and Couture do not currently see eye to eye, the tension creates an interesting dynamic for the former champion's son, Ryan Couture, a seven-time Strikeforce veteran who was recently brought to the UFC following the shuttering of his former fighting home.
White said he reached out to Ryan immediately after this past Thursday's pre-event press conference, where the UFC boss first shed light on his anger toward the MMA legend. White said he wanted to let Ryan know he was welcome to stay with the promotion but should also feel free to follow his dad'e lead if he felt that was the best path.
White said Ryan made it clear he wanted to fight in the octagon, even if that meant his father wouldn't be able to serve in his corner.
"After I talked to you guys, I called Ryan Couture, and I said, 'Ryan, let me put it to you this way: This is probably going to be the weirdest conversation you're ever going to have with me,'" White said. "'You signed a deal with us to fight in the UFC. I want you here if you want to be here, but I need you to understand this: Me and your dad are not good. Me and your dad are never going to be good – ever, ever again as long as I walk this f---ing planet. I know he's your dad, and I don't want to – you know, I'm calling you up telling you how much I don't like your father. But if you want to leave the UFC' – because he's not cornering him; Randy Couture can't buy a ticket to this motherf---ing event, OK? So I said, 'He's not going to be around, and I just want to be up front with you. You know how I am. I want to be honest, and I want to be up front. If you want me to release you from your contract so you can go do a deal with Bellator and have your dad and maybe work with him and do whatever, I would do that for you, too.'
"He said to me, 'Every kid who's ever strapped on a pair of gloves is dreaming about fighting in the UFC. If they say they're not, they're either lying or they're stupid. This is my dream. I want to be with you guys. Listen, he's my dad, and he's always going to be my dad, but this is where I want to be. I've worked my ass off to get here.'
"I said, 'Well let me tell you this: This is your house. Don't ever feel like it's not. Don't ever feel like if you walk down the hallway at our show that you're not part of this team and part of this family. I'm honored that you said that, and bro, we're happy to have you.' I just felt like that was something that I had to do. I had to talk to him. The kid's either with us or he's not. And I don't mean him. I mean I want him to feel like if he stays with us, he's with us. There's no hard feelings for him because of what's going on with me and Randy or anything like that. I just wanted to reach out and make him feel comfortable if he wanted to stay, and I wanted to give him the option if he wanted to go with his dad, too. I didn't want him to be in some situation where it's like, 'Now these guys get in a fight with my dad, and I'm stuck in this contract with them.' You know what I mean?"
And so father will remain in exile while son is welcomed with open arms.
The elder Couture, of course, did have a small role in Saturday's UFC 156 event. He's part of the company's pay-per-view opening montage, which includes highlights of his 2007 championship win over Tim Sylvia. White has often been accused of "rewriting history" when it comes to dealing with former employees on the outs – think Frank Shamrock – but he said he's not going to have Couture edited out of the opening. Instead, he'll simply leave Couture's in-cage accomplishments as marks of his greatness as a fight, but White said he'll never sing the praises of the fighter's efforts as a human being.
"Frank Shamrock is a d--k," White said. "Frank Shamrock literally never shuts up. He's always popping off about something. He's always got something stupid to say. Frank Shamrock came out with a statement the other day and wants to fight me. You know what I mean? Give me a f---ing break. The guy is a clown. I just have no respect for Frank Shamrock. That's the difference.
"Couture, I don't respect him at all – not even a little bit. The only time that Randy Couture is ever a man is when he steps foot in that cage. As soon as his big toe steps out of that cage, he's the furthest thing from it. That's it. That's the way I feel about him. I don't at all disrespect what he did in the sport, and as much of a man that I think he's not, he was 100 percent a man when he stepped in that cage. It is what it is."
And that is the last time White wants to hear about Bellator MMA's newest acquisition.
"That's the whole story," White said. "That's it, and I'd rather never talk about it again."