UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture commended Francis Ngannou for his fight with the UFC. 

Earlier this month, Ngannou was stripped of the UFC heavyweight title and became a free agent after failed negotiations with the company. According to Ngannou, he asked for the right of sponsorships, health insurance, and an advocate that represented fighters at board meetings. He said the UFC was unwilling to accept his requests. 

Like Ngannou, Couture is no stranger to negotiating with the UFC. During his run as heavyweight champion, he had a rocky relationship with the company. In an attempt to leave the promotion, Couture took the UFC to court from 2006 to 2007 to be let go from his contract. He ended up settling the dispute and later returning to the UFC. 

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Randy Couture and the UFC Have a Tough History

During an interview with MMA Fighting, Couture spoke about his past struggles dealing with his UFC and their negotiations. 

“The history is there,” Couture said. “When [Zuffa] bought the company, I took them to task over their ancillary rights and the crappy contract they were trying to force me to sign as their heavyweight champion. We asked and put some more clauses in there. The upside to that is I got a much better deal moving forward. The downside is they closed a bunch of the loopholes in those crappy contracts and made it more difficult for other fighters moving forward.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

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The 59-year-old also shared his thoughts on Ngannou’s contract dispute and his fight for improved fighter benefits. He also admitted that he hasn’t spoken with Ngannou directly. 

The money they threw at Francis was pretty significant and probably as much as anybody’s gotten paid in our sport but it was the other things ­— health insurance, a fighter’s representative, some of those things that he asked for that were outside of that, that caused them to drop him,” Couture said. “They don’t want to give up that power.

They don’t want to give up those things. They want to be able to control the fighters the way they want to control them. They don’t like that transparency. They keep those numbers pretty close to their vest so they don’t have to negotiate with fighters who know what their value is in the market place, that’s how that shakes out.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

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Couture hopes to see more top fighters, like Ngannou, become the voice of change in mixed martial arts.

Francis is probably the closest to a top tier, marquee fighter that was literally holding the belt in the heavyweight division and put that on the line to make a statement. I’m proud of him for what he’s done. Hopefully, more fighters step up.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

Marc Ray has lived his entire life in Houston, Texas, where he was born, raised and attended the University of Houston, studying broadcast journalism. As you may imagine, he spends much of his time watching mixed martial arts as part of his daily routine — not only to pump himself up, but also because he deeply enjoys the sport. Ray has worked for Houston Public Media, where he interned in the newsroom and produced community stories. Ray also created sports features in Houston for El Gato Media Network and occasionally produced content for an internship at AARP.