On day of Ryan Couture's UFC bout, Spike and Xtreme Couture plan special message
OK, I'm a little late posting this, but figured y'all would be interested.
This Saturday's episodes of "Ink Master" on Spike TV will reportedly contain a brief message that might be of interest to MMA fans, and maybe even the UFC.
"Tonight's broadcast of 'Ink Master' brought to you by Xtreme Couture MMA on behalf of its fighter Ryan Couture," the message will read, Spike TV executives told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
That is, the same Ryan Couture (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) who is slated to make his second octagon appearance, against Al Iaquinta (5-2-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) on the Facebook-streamed preliminary card of UFC 164 that same day.
Also the same Ryan Couture who is the son of former UFC champion and Hall of Famer Randy Couture, who has been effectively banned from his son's corner by UFC president Dana White over the elder Couture's decision to sign a multi-year deal with the UFC's former partners and current rivals at Spike TV.
Spike TV confirmed to MMAjunkie.com that it will run this message on "Ink Master" episodes "multiple times throughout the night in primetime." The block of the tattoo-oriented reality TV show is set to run from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, roughly the same time as UFC 164, which airs on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET and on pay-per-view beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
According to Sam Spira, who represents both Randy and Ryan Couture, the message is a show of support for the younger Couture, and one driven by the UFC's decision to prevent him from including the logo of his father's gym, Xtreme Couture, on his shorts or sponsor banner.
"They won't let him put a logo on his shorts that acknowledges where he trains, like every other fighter," said Spira, who stressed that the message was in support of, but not authored by, Ryan Couture.
"This is about Randy and Xtreme Couture MMA," Spira said. "Ryan has nothing to do with this."
At the same time, it seems possible that the UFC, which declined to comment on the matter when contacted by MMAjunkie.com, might fail to see the distinction.
Ryan is the only Couture the UFC employs at the moment, and one who currently is winless in his one UFC appearance. The 31-year-old fighter previously fought for the Strikeforce organization, but he was brought into the UFC fold after Zuffa purchased the promotion and then later absorbed much of its roster.
According to White, he made it clear to Couture that he wanted him in the UFC, but after his father left his role as a commentator with FOX and the UFC in favor of signing a deal with Spike TV, White said he told the fighter, "I want you here if you want to be here, but I need you to understand this: Me and your dad are not good. Me and your dad are never going to be good – ever, ever again as long as I walk this f–-ing planet."
The UFC president said he also told the younger Couture that his father would never be able to corner him at a UFC event as he had done in his previous bouts – a move Randy Couture later deemed "over the line."
"[White] has sons," Couture told MMAjunkie.com in June. "How would he like it if I was in a position to affect his son's lives and careers that way? On one hand, he wants to tell my son he'll treat him like any other fighter, and give him an out if he wants out, but then he turns right around and tells him, 'You won't be able to have your dad corner you.' I've been part of his camp and part of his career since the beginning. He's not treating him like any other fighter. I don't see Greg Jackson being eliminated from Georges St-Pierre's or Jon Jones' corners. He's in the same show I'm in. I think there's a bit of a double-standard going on there."
That sentiment is shared by Spira, who pointed out that trainer Jackson – also a coach opposite Couture on Spike TV's "Fight Master" – is still featured in UFC broadcasts and present at UFC events. Even World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo, who cornered Martin Kampmann in Wednesday night's UFC Fight Night 27 headliner, is not banned from UFC events or broadcasts, Spira said.
"To sit there and watch that, and yet at the same time not even be able to put a tiny little logo on [Couture]'s shorts and banner when he's fighting on the Facebook card?" Spira said. "It seems to me they (UFC officials) are the ones who made a decision about what the relationship they want to have with Ryan is."
According to Spira, that's why he and Xtreme Couture decided to use Spike TV's "Ink Master" as a place to express their support for their fighter on the day of his second UFC bout.
Asked if he was concerned about the UFC's reaction to such a move, Spira said, "I think we're reacting to their reaction. We're doing this because they've refused to allow him to acknowledge where he trains. We happen to have another venue that is maybe not accessible to other fighters, so we're going to celebrate that and acknowledge that in another venue. Had they allowed us to, we wouldn't need to."