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Another Day, Another Know-Nothing

The term "sellout" is defined as such:

3.    Informal. a person who betrays a cause, organization, or the like; traitor.
4.    Informal. a person who compromises his or her personal values, integrity, talent, or the like, for money or personal advancement.

I cannot even describe to you how much I tire of this term. It has been tossed around more than "hero" post 9/11. It has become so ubiquitous as to almost lose meaning. But lucky for us, the troglodytes among us still find it useful and have set their sights on a gentleman by the name of Randy Couture.

And who, might you ask, have the imprimatur to suggest such a contentious thesis? The omnicompetent Corey Ellis:

Allegations and rumors aside, I can't help but be disgusted with both Randy Couture and UFC management. It is a sad truth that money makes the world go round, but when does it become more about the money than the fighting?

Randy Couture said he wasn't getting enough respect, which, of course, implies that the respect of millions of fans across the world and hundreds of other fighters was not sufficient enough for him. He needed the approval of a fat, bald, ex-boxer and two money-grubbing brothers. I don't see how money could have been such a huge problem--Couture was making at least $100,000 a fight.

Ellis is the generous sort and offers readers even more manna from Intellectual Heaven:

Couture had it all--he was at the top of the heavyweight food chain in his 40s and commanded the respect of everyone in MMA. He was a spectacle to behold in the octagon as he dazzled us all with his upset victories.

Then he gave it up...and for what?

A phony movie career, staring in cheesy movies like pro-wrestler Duane "The Rock" Johnson?

He went from one of MMA's biggest legends to a soon-to-be punchline in a joke about how bad the "Scorpion King" prequel was. It pains me to see a hero fall from grace in such fashion.

I'll spare you his matchmaking suggestions. After I read them a colleague had to forcibly stop me from stabbing my eyes out and I wouldn't wish such a fate on any of you.

Getting back to Mr. Ellis, how does one respond to such pedestrian drivel? Moreover, why bother underscoring his gutter piece?

Quite simply: a rising tide lifts all boats. When those who are in no position to opine - particularly about matters where their grasp of the information is at best inconsequential - get corrected, they usually tone down the rhetoric and reevaluate how they'll proceed in talking about such matters in the future.

To Mr. Ellis: what on earth are you talking about? To say you jump to baseless and unsound conclusions would give you the benefit of at least trying to construct a coherent thought.

Randy Couture isn't now and never has been a "sellout." He didn't give up on fighting to pursue acting because it was more lucrative in and of itself. In fact, he didn't even give up on fighting, just the UFC (for the time being). In order to have "sold out", he would have to hold up his talents to the highest bidder, eventually siding with the auctioneer with the largest bankroll. Fighting would be on par with acting or golfing or snake charming or whatever the King ordered the Court Jester to do.

But that's not what's going on here. Randy Couture may be making business decisions in error, but that isn't constitutive of "selling out". Randy Couture has demonstrated his commitment to professionalism and this sport on more occasions and in more ways than we can reasonably quantify. Ask around. Ask journalists, ask promoters, ask young fighters, ask staff at X-Treme Couture, ask his opponents, ask his rivals. Ask anyone and the answer is the same: Couture has been committed to MMA and shows no signs of undoing that policy.

I'm not here to defend his decision to leave his belt and the UFC, nor do I believe this movie is anything spectacular. But what I will defend is Couture's credibility, contributions, and character, something even Dana White won't impugn in this dark hour. When Couture's enemy won't stoop to trashing his good name - a good name built on the back of hard work for himself, the sport of MMA, and the UFC brand - perhaps that should be reason enough to ponder over the merits of your argument before publishing them.

Lastly, you ask when it became more important for Couture to seek out money rather than stay committed to fighting. I ask, when did it become more important for you to sully Couture's name than write something of substance? When did being incendiary for the sake of being incendiary trump reasonable argument about Couture's perceived mistakes? When did running roughshod over substance become more important that substance itself? When did writing about fighting become more important than understanding the unparalleled sacrifice that is a fighter's life? When did attacking a fighter's success - success coming after years of toiling in obscurity - become more important than, well, anything else?

Couture has nothing to prove to anyone, least of all Corey Ellis. His accomplishments are virtually without parallel and his legacy of greatness safely cemented in the annals of the sport's history. Before cavalierly tossing generalizations or insults at undeserving targets, work to accomplish greatness on your own terms. Perhaps then you'll gain the ability to distinguish "selling out" from meritorious success.

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