Lawyers for Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, filed a lawsuit was filed on Monday in Clark County, Nev. against current UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture for his comments made publicly against the company and also for allegedly breaching his contract with the UFC, as first reported by Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The saga between Couture and the UFC reaches back to October 2007 when Couture resigned from the organization, in all capacities, amidst an array of reasons given for his departure.
Monday’s lawsuit is the latest move in this ever-evolving chess match between the organization and its recognized heavyweight champion.
“We are alleging numerous intentional torts, which have caused Zuffa and the UFC significant harm,” said Donald J. Campbell, attorney for Zuffa, as stated to the Las Vegas Review Journal. “Based upon that harm we are seeking to address these matters before a court of law.”
Multiple news conferences have been held by Couture and the UFC, battling over money that was paid, signing bonuses, and other compensatory matters.
Now, it appears that a judge will help to settle some of the disputes held between the UFC and its former employee, who is still under contract to the organization.
The lawsuit states that Couture’s comments about the company have caused “injurious falsehood and trade disparagement,” which in turn cost them significant money, while also alleging that Couture along with several unnamed participants conspired to do significant harm to the organization.
The heavyweight champ is also named in the lawsuit for breach of contract because of a stipulation that prevents him from engaging in anything that is in “direct or indirect competition” to the UFC for a period of 12 months following the expiration of his current deal with the promotion.
The article from the Las Vegas Review Journal also references the upcoming appearance by Couture’s Xtreme Couture team, which will compete for the International Fight League on Feb. 29 in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena, as a direct violation of the non-compete portion of Couture’s contract.
UFC president Dana White recently announced that Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will compete for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 81 on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas.
In an exclusive interview recently with MMAWeekly.com, White addressed Couture’s status as heavyweight champion, saying, “This is in the hands of the lawyers now. We gave him a half-million-dollar signing bonus to fight four fights for us. I think the honorable thing for him to do is to honor his contract and fight the winner of Nogueira and Sylvia.”
At the same time, White seemed resigned to the fact that it won’t be as simple as asking Couture to fight. “This thing shocked me, came out of nowhere. I never expected this. I tried to talk to Randy, tried to work this thing out. It’s in the lawyers hands now.”
MMAWeekly.com spoke to representatives at Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture facility in Las Vegas, but they declined to comment on the lawsuit at this time.