Randy Couture Has Friends in High Places

The funny thing about becoming something of a media star is that you meet all kinds of interesting people. In Randy Couture's case, it's…

By: Nate Wilcox | 16 years ago
Randy Couture Has Friends in High Places
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

The funny thing about becoming something of a media star is that you meet all kinds of interesting people. In Randy Couture’s case, it’s not just the Rock and Paris Hilton. He’s also got a brand new best friend in Mark Cuban.

Adam Swift at MMA Payout has more on the meaning of Cuban’s HDNet entering the Randy Couture vs Zuffa suit:

The most interesting immediate legal issue raised by the suit is the exclusive jurisdiction/venue clause contained by all Zuffa promotional contracts. The clause, a standard feature of contract law, names the 8th Judicial District of Nevada as the exclusive site of any litigation arising out of the contract. Because HDNet Fights is not a party to the contract, it is presumably not bound by the clause, therefore allowing the action to proceed in Texas. However, regardless of the venue, the contract will interpreted under Nevada law.

There are several potential advantages of proceeding in Texas. First, the state is believed to have more lenient legal standards concerning declaratory judgments. The ripeness doctrine in particular is reportedly more plaintiff friendly in Texas than Nevada. Ripeness is a legal term that refers to whether or not an issue is ready to be decided in court.

Another obvious advantage is the shifting of the home field advantage. Lawyers often worry about “home cooking” when one of the parties has strong ties to the local community in which a case is pending, and there is no doubt that Nevada is Zuffa’s comfort zone. However, sources have told MMAPayout.com that the judge handling the case in Las Vegas has a reputation for fairness and Couture is expected to receive a fair shake. Nonetheless, in Las Vegas HDNet Fights and/or Couture must find local counsel to battle Zuffa’s experienced local attorneys, whereas in Texas, it is Zuffa that will be forced to retain new counsel licensed to practice in Texas.

The biggest advantage of the move may be the systemic shock it represents to Zuffa. Zuffa is used to dictating the terms, timing, and location of its battles. By unexpectedly filing suit in Texas, HDNet Fights surprised Zuffa and put the company on its heels. Essentially, until this point the company has been on the offensive in the Couture dispute. Now it must play defense.

Another significant benefit for Couture that can’t be overlooked is legal fees. With HDNet Fights shouldering the declaratory judgment action, Couture stands to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. This also negates the advantage Zuffa has over Couture when it comes to financial resources. Without HDNet’s “support,” Couture faced the real possibility of being financially strained by the proceedings, providing Zuffa with the kind of leverage necessary to force a favorable settlement and even potentially force Couture back into the octagon. At the end of the day, Mark Cuban, like the Fertittas, can spend whatever he deems necessary in pursuit of a favorable outcome.

Personally, I’m rooting for Cuban and HDNet in all this. The game will inevitably evolve to a more fighter based sport and be less promotion driven. It’s just a matter of how long Zuffa can delay the inevitable. Fightlinker isn’t so sanguine:

But in short, this is all pretty troubling news. I’m starting to wonder if everyone fucking with the UFC isn’t akin to the villagers killing the golden goose. Sure, the goose is a prick. But it still lays golden fucking eggs.
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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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