Couture at a Crossroads with Affliction

Written by Tom Ngo
November 3rd, 2008

After years of an undying loyalty which lead to great financial windfalls, it seems as though Affliction has drawn a line in the sand and Randy Couture is standing on the opposite side. The UFC Hall of Famer helped expose Affliction to the UFC, bringing its name and clothing line to the forefront of MMA fans.  However, it seems as though Couture’s recent decision to re-join forces with the UFC has Affliction considering Couture, dare we say, their enemy?

Recently, Affliction co-founder Todd Beard, while appearing on the Scott Ferrall Show, made a disparaging statement about Couture regarding his UFC 91 fight against Brock Lesnar.

“Randy, if you’re listening right now, I hope (expletive) Lesnar kills you,” Beard stated.

Couture has been so influential in Affliction’s success, they even gave him his own division, Xtreme Coutre, under their brand.  This brought increased popularity and profits to their clothing line, as Couture was able to use his impeccable reputation to recruit other top MMA fighters to wear the clothes.

Isn’t this a business? Isn’t money supposed to talk? How could a successful relationship end up so badly? The heavyweight champion seems to be as confused as everyone else.

“I really don’t understand where Todd Beard’s coming from in his attack to me, my wife, and my attorney, and now the Fertittas and Lorenzo specifically, and Dana White. I don’t understand it,” Couture stated. “He feels there’s this adversarial relationship created and I just don’t get it. It’s gone beyond kind of the antics of being a promoter, so we’ll see how all that unfolds, and where the relationship stands, and where we end up with that down the road.

“Frankly, it’s a bunch of crap and I don’t need anymore crap in my life, so focus on the positive, which is this fight which is in two weeks and let the rest of that stuff go,” Couture continued.

For the most part, Beard has stayed behind the scenes, allowing Vice President Tom Atencio to be management’s voice for the company. That was up until two weeks ago when Affliction and the UFC reportedly had talks regarding a partnership, one that would require Affliction to stop promoting any future MMA events in exchange for the UFC lifting their ban on Affliction sponsoring their fighters, especially Couture.

Apparently the talks took a bad turn, ending with Beard and Lorenzo Fertitta exchanging profanities.  The talks are all but dead at this point, leaving Couture losing out on thousands of sponsorship dollars for his November 15th bout. Although unfortunate, the MMA veteran understands the UFC’s position.

“As long as they’re in the fight business and not just a t-shirt company then they’re looked at as a competitor, which puts the Xtreme Couture clothing brand that they manufacture in competition with the UFC as well,” he said.

“Obviously the brand is important to me. I’ve spent going on 12 years developing the reputation and the name of Xtreme Couture and Affliction helped build that, distribute that, manufacture that, and build it into a reputable clothing line,” Couture commented. “The crossover’s where things get a little hazy, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with that.”

Couture has been the Michael Jordan to Affliction’s Nike, however with Beard’s harsh words, there is no telling if this relationship will ever be mended. The bridge isn’t burned, but it is damaged.

“It’s certainly going to be affected. The relationship’s already been affected by Todd Beard’s demeanor and some of the things he’s said, so that’s all up in the air,” stated a confused Couture.

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