by Ken Pishna & Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Randy Couture has resigned from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Not only has he relinquished his heavyweight title, he will also no longer be providing on-air fight analysis for the mixed martial arts juggernaut.
MMAWeekly on Thursday confirmed the resignation, first reported by The Fight Network’s Brian Knapp, through both Sean O’Heir and Valerie Haney, representatives of Couture’s Las Vegas-based Xtreme Couture training facility.
The focal point of his resignation appears to be the reports that Fedor Emelianenko, highly regarded as the No. 1 heavyweight fighter in the world, has agreed to forgo offers from the UFC and fight elsewhere.
A statement released by Haney, Couture’s personal assistant, read, “Fedor Emelianenko was Randy’s last great challenge and with that prospect gone, he feels he’s accomplished all that he can in mixed martial arts.”
Although indications are that he would still remain active in MMA in some capacity, Haney also said, “… it was a matter of respect and Randy felt the need to move on.”
According to Knapp, Couture stated, “I’m tired of swimming upstream at this stage with the management of the UFC.”
This obviously comes as a surprise considering that UFC president Dana White was fielding questions from the media earlier in the day about the possibility of Brandon Vera and Tim Sylvia’s fight in Cincinnati being a possible elimination bout for a shot at Couture’s belt.
White responded to Couture’s retirement saying, “I’m not surprised at all by Randy’s decision. I talked to Randy several weeks ago and he said that if he couldn’t fight Fedor, then he has nothing left to prove in the sport of mixed martial arts.
“He has been doing a lot of acting, and I know he is in South Africa right now filming a movie. I think it’s a great move for Randy’s acting career to retire from fighting while he is on top.
“As we all know, Randy retired before. The landscape in MMA changes every day. So when he is ready to come out of retirement again, he is still under contract with me, and I’m ready to promote him.”
Haney said that Couture “is very excited to embark on a promising career in acting” and that “he’s currently shooting a lead role in Universal’s ‘The Scorpion King – The Rise of the Akkadian’ in South Africa and has more offers on the table.”