In South Africa shooting scenes for his lead role in the upcoming feature film "The Scorpion King - Rise of the Akkadian," Couture made the announcement official in a letter to UFC president Dana White. The UFC's inability to land PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko played a prominent role in the decision to walk away, according to Couture.
"I appreciate this opportunity the sport of MMA and the UFC has given me," the UFC Hall-of-Famer said. "However, I'm tired of swimming upstream at this stage with the management of the UFC. It only makes sense at this point in my career to fight Fedor Emelianenko, and since he's now signed with another organization, I feel like it's time to resign and focus on my other endeavors."
His abrupt departure deals a significant blow to the world's most visible MMA organization. Couture was not only a beloved competitor - White once called him "the greatest fighter in UFC history" - but also a revered spokesman for a company that had long struggled to gain mainstream acceptance.
"Randy's contract was on a fight-by-fight basis, and that's the way he said he was always going to take it - fight by fight," said Matt Walker, Couture's agent at The Gersh Agency. "His acting career is accelerating at an astronomical rate, and without the support he felt some of his peers were receiving in the fight business, this was the logical choice.
This is a gigantic blow to the UFC, but not necessarily MMA. Perhaps Couture will be able to fight Fedor in M-1. One can only hope now.
Update [2007-10-11 16:14:35 by Luke Thomas]:: In honor of The Natural:
Update [2007-10-11 16:28:25 by Luke Thomas]:: More from Dave Meltzer:
Update [2007-10-11 16:40:49 by Luke Thomas]:: Randy sounds off:
Update [2007-10-11 17:4:6 by Luke Thomas]:: Lastly, Dana White responds: