UFC Takes Next Round in Couture Saga
The UFC’s parent company, Zuffa LLC, emerged with another victory
Friday, as a Dallas appeals court granted the promotion a stay
against a motion for summary judgment submitted by Mark Cuban’s
The Mavericks NBA team owner had filed the motion on Feb. 13,
requesting that a Texas court decide when five-time UFC champion
Couture (Pictures) would be eligible to sign into a
contract with his own rival organization.
Citing discontent with his pay and treatment, Couture had resigned
from the UFC on Oct. 11, 2007, leaving his heavyweight crown and
two contracted fights on the table. Zuffa contends the 45-year-old
fighter still owes the promotion the two remaining fights per his
promotional (or fight) agreement. Couture believes his fight
contract expired on July 19.
The Dallas County Fifth Court of Appeals originally granted Zuffa
an emergency stay only four days after a separate Texas court had
agreed to hear Cuban’s motion at a June 2 hearing.
Friday’s judgment, which entertained only written arguments from
both sides, will effectively halt Couture’s case from unfolding in
the Lonestar State for now.
Cuban is expected to appeal Friday’s decision to the Texas Supreme
Attention now turns back to Las Vegas, where the popular fighter
and Zuffa have begun arbitration hearings to try and hash out a
resolution to a nine-month saga that has drawn considerable media
attention. Couture and UFC President Dana White were deposed for
the case three weeks ago, and more individuals are expected to join
the process in the coming weeks. The arbitration proceedings will
take place behind closed doors.
In a separate suit in Nevada, Zuffa filed for breach of contract
against Couture on Jan. 14, claiming the four-time Olympic
alternate had violated a one-year non-complete clause within an
employment agreement he’d signed in December 2006 by promoting
non-UFC fights. Arguments for that lawsuit have not been scheduled
Couture’s employment contract, which hired the then-retired fighter
for commentary and promotional appearances, expires Oct. 11.
Couture was not immediately available for comment Friday.
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