Randy Couture: Hero or Joke?

Corey EllisContributor IOctober 23, 2007

Icon Sports MediaThe MMA world was dealt a harsh blow two weeks ago when the UFC announced the split between their organization and one of the sport's most beloved superstarsRandy Couture.

As a result, the coveted UFC Heavyweight Championship was vacated.

It wasn't long before both sidesDana White and Couture's agentstarted firing back and forth about the reasons behind Couture's sudden departure.

Dana claimed it was due to the UFC's inability to sign heavyweight superstar Fedor Emelianenko.

Couture's agent, however, had a much different story to tell—he said the split was due to the fact that Randy wasn't getting enough respect from management, or as much money as notable fighters like Chuck Liddell.

He also stated that Couture wasn't retiring from the sport, but simply taking a break to film a Scorpion King prequel in Southern Africa.

Dana responded that these allegations were unfounded and untrue. Reports also state that a "bitch slap" ensued between the two.

Superstars such as Ken Shamrock have flocked to Couture's defense, claiming they'd received the same treatment.

Allegations and rumors aside, I can't help but be disgusted with both Randy Couture and UFC management. It's 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 wasn't sufficient enough for him.

Instead, Couture 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 problemCouture was making at least $100,000 a fight.

Is Couture's head so big that he couldn't bring himself to fight the likes of Minotauro Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, Andrei Arlovski, Cheick Kongo, or Brandon Vera?

He didn't seem to have a problem fighting Gabriel Gonzaga, a relative unknown who had less than 10 fights under his belt.

Fedor is a big loss to the organization, but he's not the only fish in the sea.

Some may say that Couture has earned the right to be more selective about his opponents. This is completely valid—but why did he agree to fight for the title only to vacate it so quickly?

Surely he could have fought Sylvia in a non-title bout if he simply had something to prove.

Couture had it all—he was at the top of the heavyweight food chain and commanded the respect of everyone in MMA.

Then he gave it up...and for what?

A phony movie career, like pro-wrestler Duane "The Rock" Johnson?

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

Couture plans to hold a press conference this Thursday on HDnet (check local listings) to addres the issue further. I urge my fellow MMA fans to watch and listen to Couture's side of the story.

Until then...