Randy Couture believes the UFC’s attempt to move forward in the midst of a global pandemic bordered on selfish.
This past week, Dana White announced that UFC 249, originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, was indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak; future events were also paused. White had been adamant the promotion would move forward with its 2020 schedule by holding events at Tachi Palace Resort Casino in Lemoore, Calif. But then Disney and ESPN executives stepped in to intervene, according to the UFC president.
Couture, a UFC Hall of Famer, gym owner and PFL color commentator, recently appeared on Weighing In with Josh Thomson and John McCarthy and gave his reaction to the latest news regarding his former promoter.
“I had such mixed feelings,” Couture said. “You start balancing, how much of this is hype? You start talking about the real numbers, look at the flu that happens every year, or so many other ways that people die. Where does this register on that same scale? We’re making such a huge deal and, literally, tanking our economy on a worldwide level over it.
“At the same time, everybody else is on lockdown. Why do you think it’s OK to go out and try and put on a show and put athletes in harm’s way, potentially, with so many unknowns? I don’t know. I had mixed feelings about it.”
The multi-time UFC champion has had many issues with the organization over the years and has taken the promotion to task over its treatment of fighters. He’s never been shy about his opinions.
“I felt like there was some selfishness going on in pushing this as far as they did,” Couture said. “Finally, ESPN had to step up and, literally, pull the plug on it and say, ‘We’re not gonna broadcast it,’ to get it shut down.
“Now, we’re still hearing talks about ‘Fighter Island’ and all of this other crazy stuff. ‘Pandemic Island’ is what we should call it.
“I think we’re all in this together, so why should anyone be exempt? The UFC is no different than any of the rest of us.”
Couture, who said he’s feeling much better after suffering a heart attack this past year, hit pause on his MMA obligations. But he was a part of the 2020 Arnold Classic last month. The event usually features a convention that sees nearly 250,000 fans that attend the multiple locations in Ohio. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was cancelled, but most of the athletes were able to compete. Additionally, spectators were allowed to attend the Arnold Classic Physique finals.
With Couture being a part of that massive event, as well as seeing the precautions that were taken, he certainly has some understanding as to why there is a lot of confusion with this topic.
“It’s tough to decipher what’s real and what’s not,” he said. “What’s a power grab and a money grab, and what’s the genuine precautions to keep people safe? There’s a very fine line there.”