For as much success as UFC has had in 2007, turning mixed martial arts into a legitimate, perhaps even mainstream, sport in the United States, it's also had some big failures. And the biggest failure was missing out on the opportunity to put the two fighters everyone wants to see, Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture, in the Octagon together.
Couture left UFC because he didn't like the terms of his contract, and Emelianenko refused to sign with UFC for similar reasons. He tells Sherdog that these are the terms of the contract UFC wanted him to sign:
"I can't leave undefeated. I can't give interviews, appear in films or advertising. I don't have the right to do anything without the UFC's agreement. I could do nothing without the OK from the UFC. I didn't have the right to compete in combat sambo competition. It's my national sport. It's the Russian sport, which in his time our president competed in, and I no longer have the right to do so. There were many such clauses; the contract was 18 pages in length. It was written in such a way that I had absolutely no rights while the UFC could at any moment, if something didn't suit them, tear up the agreement. We worked with lawyers who told us that it was patently impossible to sign such a document."
If that's a fair representation of the restrictions UFC puts on its athletes, it's just a matter of time before the top athletes in the sport all leave UFC. Couture may end up being to MMA fighters what Curt Flood is to baseball players.
Hat tip: Fight Opinion.