Josh Gross
Friday November 14th, 2008

Randy Couture's life has not been without distraction as he readies to take part in what the UFC is hyping as its biggest pay-per-view of all time.

The day he pulled aside UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta and agreed to give up the 11-month cold war with the organization in exchange for a new deal, the publicized dispute was over.

But another was brewing.

He didn't know -- no one could have known at the time -- the decision to return to the Octagon would come back would spark an even uglier out-of-competition confrontation, culminating with the need for a restraining order the week of the fight.

Of the many side businesses Couture picked up in part to his years as UFC champion, his gym and clothing line, both labeled "Xtreme Couture," are two of his most important. With his return to fighting, Couture's clothing partner, Affliction, became a direct promotional competitor to the UFC.

In late September, Couture and representatives for the competing companies met in Las Vegas to discuss the heavyweight champion's desire to wear Xtreme Couture-branded shirts at UFC events. After waiting for UFC President Dana White and Fertitta to return from New York, the evening's conversation was civil, even as the UFC insisted they were not about to support a competitor by allowing "Xtreme Couture" into the Octagon.

Discussion eventually turned to a relationship whereby Affliction would give up promoting MMA in exchange for becoming the official t-shirt licensee of the UFC. Despite closing out the Sept. 26 meeting with both sides agreeing to reconvene after drawing up proposals, there wasn't much forward movement from Affliction, whose executives appeared to disagree on the best course of action.

Weeks later, when Todd Beard became involved, any chance of compromise was shattered. It's well known that the man not to upset inside the UFC is Fertitta. But Beard, an executive with Affliction clothing who touched the promotional side, managed to "piss him off" during a particularly sour phone call, according to sources close the negotiations.

Beard then went after Couture and his wife Kim when they asked for an accounting of the Xtreme Couture clothing line. As 40-percent partners in the company, the Coutures felt more than entitled to ask. Threatening, angry voicemails and text messages carried Beard's response.

On Wednesday, just days before Couture was to step into the Octagon against Lesnar, a restraining order against Beard was granted on behalf of the fighter, his wife, and their attorney, Sam Spira.

Forced to resign the following evening, Beard publicly apologized for his actions. Those close to Couture say the recent distractions haven't upset his focus. Rather, the only thing worth focusing on, Couture decided, was fighting.

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