UFC Takes Next Round in Couture Saga

By Sherdog.com Staff Aug 2, 2008
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 HDNet Fights.

The Mavericks NBA team owner had filed the motion on Feb. 13, requesting that a Texas court decide when five-time UFC champion Randy 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 Court.

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 yet.

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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