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Morning Report: Randy Couture calls Matt Hughes' recent UFC employment a 'big f--- you' from Dana White

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

For all intents and purposes, the bitter war of words between UFC President Dana White and exiled UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture seemed to have died down over recent days. White aired his grievances in typical White fashion, Couture was banned from all UFC events -- including any cornerman work for his son, Ryan -- and was free to embark on his new ventures with Spike TV.

That ceasefire, however, was predictably short-lived, as Couture recently re-stoked the flames during a conversation with SiriusXM Fight Club.

"I gave the UFC and Dana every opportunity to find a way to significantly use me since I retired a year and a half ago," Couture said flatly. "They acted like they were doing me a favor by giving me the four events on FOX a year as a commentator.

"In my opinion and estimation, [that's] not a terribly significant role in the organization, and the company of Zuffa. So I tried like hell to get them to keep me with the company in some significant way and they had nothing for me. I made them aware that this offer had come onto the table, that the TV thing was heating up for me, that there were significant offers being pushed to me, but I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to even hear those pitches and could not tell them specifically what was going on or who was offering what.

"So, you know, in my professional estimation, they had an opportunity to keep me and use me. They chose not to, and a week later, after this whole thing leaks, they give a job to Matt Hughes in a significant fashion. Frankly that was a big ‘f--k you' to me from Dana. And that's exactly what he intended to do."

Following his surprisingly scathing response, Couture was asked to clarify his final statement, if he indeed believed that Hughes' new role as UFC Vice President of Athletic Development and Government Relations was intended to serve as one last parting jab.

"That's the way it felt to me," Couture concluded. "I've been trying for over a year to get them to use me in some way, shape or form, and they chose not to. They didn't have anything for me. They continually told me that. And then Matt announces his retirement, and within a week has a Vice President position for fighter relations. You tell me."



Couture talks White, Hughes' job. Speaking to SiriusXM Fight Club, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture labelled the UFC's recent appointment of Matt Hughes to UFC Vice President of Athletic Development and Government Relations as, "a big ‘f--k you' to me from Dana [White]. And that's exactly what he intended to do."

Wrestling dropped from Olympics. In a stunningly absurd decision, the International Olympic Committee voted to drop both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling from the 2020 Olympic games, enraging the mixed martial arts community. Wrestling stood as one of the oldest forms of Olympic competition, enduring as a fixture of the games since its reintroduction in 1896. But hey, at least they kept speed walking.

UFC 160. As reported on UFC Tonight, a pair of mammoth heavyweight bouts -- Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva II and Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem -- are scheduled to headline UFC 160, which takes place May 25, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

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Cyborg's release imminent. As expected, the UFC is currently in the final stages of releasing former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cris 'Cyborg' Santos from her contract. Said Primetime 360 representative George Prajin: "There have been no hold-ups. In fact, we are very thankful to the UFC and Strikeforce for being very cooperative and understanding."

TUF 17 results. Team Jones' Collin Hart outpointed Team Sonnen's Kevin Casey en route to a decision victory in the fourth episode of The Ultimate FIghter 17.

McMann, Davis signed by UFC. Following Monday's booking of the second women's fight in UFC history, UFC officials confirmed the signings of fellow top-10 bantamweights Sara McMann and Alexis Davis.



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Announced yesterday (Tuesday, February 12, 2013):



Today's Fanpost of the Day sees Tkeaner return to take a look at: The strategy of title fights on free TV

Prior to Saturday's interim title fight and right on the heels of the announcement of the flyweight title fight on the TUF 17 finale, it makes sense to discuss the UFC's newest strategy, putting title fights on free TV. There was a time when the world's largest fight promotion would have never entertained the idea of putting title fights on free TV, or at least not Spike TV. Whether it was from a little coaxing by Fox executives or just admitting that a few of their champions may not be very good PPV draws, the UFC seems committed to the bold strategy of offering title fights, to a much larger audience, for free.

What led them to this strategy is most likely a combination of factors. Prior to UFC on Fox 5, the viewership numbers the UFC pulled in on Fox were trending downwards. One reason for this trend is that "No. 1 Contender" or "Title Eliminator" does not market as well to the casual fan as "World Championship." People understand world championships fights.

Another factor the UFC has acknowledged with this strategy is that a few of its champions are nowhere near proven PPV draws as the rest of the company's titleholders. Anderson Silva and GSP are the company's top draws and the heavyweight title seems to always draw well. Jon Jones is on his way to becoming a superstar if he is not already. Jose Aldo seems to be an emerging star and we will find out what type of draw Ronda Rousey is in just a few weeks. That leaves the three of the lighter weight classes where, aside from BJ Penn and Urijah Faber, the champions have always had a hard time drawing large PPV numbers.

Rather than bury the fights of these champions as co-headliners on a PPV where the headliner would draw most of the attention, putting these title fights as headliners on free TV helps to serve two purposes. First, the title fight will draw bigger numbers than most other headliners. The second purpose is that, hopefully, fighters such as Ben Henderson and Demetrius Johnson eventually become better PPV draws as a result of the fan base they have built from larger audiences watching them on Fox, FX and Fuel. The bigger the draw, the more value the fighter is to the UFC.

If the UFC continues with its strategy, it will leverage the Fox platform to build the UFC brand and help turn fighters into bigger stars. Bigger stars have much greater value, especially when they are your champions.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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