The following is a detailed recap of the UFC press conference held today in Las Vegas and streamed online via UFC.com with UFC president Dana White, company owner Lorenzo Fertitta and UFC's CFO John Mulkey. The recap was written by MMANews.com's Matt Boone.
The press conference opens with Dana White mentioning how he hates to talk about money and how it effects fighters' personal and professional lives.
The press conference was held today due to the fact that the UFC management felt Randy Couture made blatant false statements about the UFC and his pay from the company. UFC's CFO John Mulkey is attending the presser to specifically clear up these false financial situations, and will even be handing out paperwork to the media in attendance with official figures that dispute those that Couture handed out during his press conference last week.
Dana White addresses the statement from Couture's wife, Kim Couture, where she claimed Randy was never really fully promoted by the UFC. Dana mentions how The Ultimate Fighter is what launched the sport into what it is today and how Couture was selected to be the represenative of the sport as one of the coaches. He mentioned that he was brought back during the second season as a consultant to the show to come up with physical challenges and other ideas. Dana mentioned that August 23rd was “Randy Couture day” on Spike TV, where a four-hour block of TV time was fully dedicated to Couture's UFC fights. He said Couture became a big star because the UFC did in fact promote him.
Dana mentioned that Kim also addressed in her statement that Randy makes just as much money if not more for his work outside the cage, due to his celebrity obtained from his work inside the cage. Dana is proud of that. He said to ask any of the top UFC guys, specifically mentioning Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin – that his goal is to make it so fighters can continue to make a living off their accomplishments in the UFC once they are done fighting.
The UFC's CFO is going to go over the money and Dana White said he hates to do it as he feels the sport should be about the sport, about the fights – and not about the money. He mentions how he could understand the comotion if UFC were trying to hide something, but feels his fighters are paid well. He says they're going to do something they've never done before and will never do again now, which is specifically walk through the pay structure.
Lorenzo Fertitta interupts to say he considered Couture a friend and that he personally negotiated his contract back in January. He said the two had breakfast to discuss the terms. He said Couture claimed during his personal press conference last week that he was never happy with his contract, which Fertitta claimed was a shock to him personally. He said the two shook hands and hugged and felt he was very happy with his new deal. Fertitta said he watched Couture's press conference and felt certain statements were made that grossly misrepresented the facts and were done so in a tone and fashion to hurt the UFC as a business. Today's press conference is strictly about protecting themselves from those statements that he felt were made to hurt the UFC.
Money-time. Randy Couture received a $500,000 signing bonus for his new deal, despite his claims to have not been given a signing bonus – something he claimed to have requested. He received $250,000 up front and the second $250,000 check after the first fight on his deal which was against Tim Sylvia at UFC 68. Both checks were cashed two weeks after they were drawn. Additionally, Couture was compensated for his announcing work in the UFC, with the number $56,000 coming up – but not specifically tied to what it was paid for.
Randy's pay-per view bonus for his UFC 68 fight was $936,000 which made his total income for his UFC 68 bout 1.86 million dollars.
For UFC 74 in late August, Randy had a $250,000 purse on his contract for his bout with Gabriel Gonzaga and received a “fight of the night” bonus of $35,000 after the bout, also despite his claims that he did not receive one. His PPV bonus, based strictly on current estimates, as not all the numbers have come in yet, is $787,000 making his total income for the UFC 74 fight 1.072 million dollars.
Despite Couture's claims, UFC says all pay is on the books and is taxible, documented expenses.
“Fedor [Emelianenko] is a farce,” says Dana White as he goes into detail again about how he feels he is not the number one fighter in the world. He said after defeating Mirko CroCop he took on Zuluzinho Jr, and asked the media if anyone had ever heard of him. He said after that he defeated a kickboxer in Mark Hunt and followed that up with a fight against 185 lb. Matt Lindland, who Dana mentioned had just come off a loss against the 205 lb. Quinton Jackson. Dana said he feels Fedor is not even a top five Heavyweight and never has. He claims he's not just saying these things because he didn't sign Fedor to the UFC.
When asked if he feels the problems with Couture could ever be worked out, Dana said if he can work things out with Tito Ortiz, he's sure he and Randy can solve this issue.
Dana White still considers Randy Couture the UFC Heavyweight champion and will be offering him a title fight for early 2008, and specifically mentioned Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as the potential opponent. He says if Randy turns down the fight it's because he's retired and he would then look to match up the number one and number two contenders to make a new Heavyweight champion.
When asked if Fedor would have made more money than Couture had he signed with UFC, Dana White said there is no way that would have happened. He wouldn't allow it. He said Couture doesn't even know what he himself is making so how could he know what Fedor was going to earn?
When asked what the biggest disappointment was: not getting the HBO deal, not signing Fedor or this current situation with Randy Couture, Dana White said they chose not to take the HBO deal. He went on to say that he “coulda cared less about Fedor. Fedor was for Randy.” He said the most disturbing thing for him this year is the current debacle with Randy Couture.
It seemed as though the questions were still coming in, although the presser seemed to be coming to an end, but the feed cut off in mid-answer from Dana so we'll leave it at that for now.