New UFC lightweight Ryan Couture has seen his name in the headlines a lot lately, but it hasn't had much to do with his newly announced fight against Ross Pearson at UFC on Fuel 9 in Sweden.
Unfortunately for Couture, his name ended up in the middle of an ongoing feud between his boss, UFC President Dana White, and his father, Randy Couture. You see, the elder Couture recently bolted the UFC family for a lucrative offer at Spike TV, including a spot as coach on the new Fight Master reality show for Bellator Fighting Championships.
Following the move, Randy Couture quickly found himself on the outs with the UFC, and White has said on a couple of occasions that he has no place at one of their events, even if he tries to buy a ticket to see the show.
This also left his son Ryan Couture in an interesting situation, because he was on his way to the UFC after his last fight in Strikeforce, and everyone wondered if he would be a casualty of the entire fallout between his father and the company.
"It's nothing to do with me really," Couture told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "Given the history it's not horribly surprising. Dad's been on and off the s*** list, and been on both good and bad terms with Dana (White) and the UFC for varying times. I guess it shouldn't come as a total shock given past experience."
Couture was in the midst of preparing for his January bout against K.J. Noons when his father gave him a heads up that something could happen soon that could certainly stir the uneasy waters between himself and the UFC. At the time, Couture was just focused on fighting because, ultimately, he wasn't involved at all in his father's business dealings.
"He gave me a vague heads up that things could get interesting, but I'm pretty sure he was bound by a non-disclosure agreement until the official announcement was made so he couldn't tell me much. I was training for a fight so it really didn't matter anyways, my focus wasn't going to change. As far as I'm concerned, this stuff has very little to do with me. It's just kind of funny that my name keeps coming up as such a focal point," said Couture.
Ryan's name did come up because of dad's final decision to move to Spike TV, but UFC President Dana White personally called the young lightweight and assured him that if he wanted a home in the Octagon, he would have one. Regardless of how much he did or didn't actually have anything to do with his father's exodus from the UFC, the younger Couture appreciated the fact that White took the time to call him personally and talk to him about it.
"I thought that was a cool show of respect to me and I appreciate the fact that he took the time to do that. Cause I definitely when I started seeing the headlines of ugly it looked like it was going to get, it definitely had me a little concerned about where I would fall. He just told me exactly how it was, and I appreciated that he took the time to do that personally," Couture stated.
The other bit of business that did affect Couture with his father literally being banned from UFC events was the possibility of him cornering him during his fights. Technically, the athletic commissions in each state or area control the licenses for any person applying to be in the corner of a fighter.
Couture knows that if he wanted to make an issue out of it then he could probably still have his dad in his corner, but he says it's not a battle that he's going to fight right now.
"I think it's been made pretty clear that's kind of the way it needs to be right now. I'm not thrilled about it. I know if I wanted to make a fight out of it and make a scene I could go through the commission and kind of go over their head and make it happen. I'm sure if I wanted to pick that fight cause it seemed like the right thing to do, or if it was a worthwhile thing that could be done, but I just don't see that as the right move for me," Couture explained.
"I think this thing will sort of take care of itself one way or another, it will hopefully smooth over and if it doesn't, life will go on. Dad will still be a big part of my training camp, if it doesn't work out for him to be there in the corner, then so be it. I don't think it's worth picking a fight over."
If there is one positive that has come out of this whole thing, Couture believes that it has moved him into the spotlight—which is never bad for a fighter looking to establish himself in the UFC. He also knows that while he will always proudly carry the name Couture, this is his chance to show the world who Ryan Couture, "the fighter" really is, instead of Ryan Couture, "the son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture."
"I feel like my in ring performances have done a lot to differentiate me from dad, and really set me apart. I feel like I've made a lot of progress, especially over the last year, or year and a half, of really establishing myself in my own right. I think this will sort of force that along, and maybe every time I'm introduced it won't have to be the son of Randy Couture," said Couture.
"Not that that's a bad thing at all, but it's something that we kind of always joke about. Like at what point is it going to be that they no longer need to throw that asterisk in there every time they talk about me. It's possible that some silver lining of this will be that that speeds that process up."
Damon Martin is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.