Boy, things change fast in mixed martial arts. It’s really starting to sound like Zuffa’s lawyers are much better than Randy Couture’s, because it doesn’t look like Randy is accomplishing anything he set out to do last October, except maybe put a few more dollars in the bank.
I’ve spoken with a lot of people about Randy Couture in the last day. Things are definitely happening.
First, I can say with 100% certainty that there are current negotiations for Randy Couture to return in November to main event, and that the current proposed opponent is Brock Lesnar. They can’t get Fedor, too many issues to work out on short notice, and he has a US-only non compete with Affliction.
This will be a new contract, not a return to the old one. It will likely pay him more and give him more benefits, but it will lock him into the UFC for the long term. In exchange for signing it Zuffa would drop all breach of contract charges.
I have to say I didn’t see this coming. Perhaps, I was a little naive to believe Randy when he said he would never return to the UFC unless they signed Fedor. When I first heard the rumors that Couture may be returning for UFC 91, I thought if this was actually true, then somehow someway Randy was able to find some kind of loophole, despite the “champion’s clause,” that would allow him to give the UFC the last two fights on his contract and leave free and clear.
Instead, he would allegedly be signing another long-term contract for more money. To top it off, the Fedor fight would certainly be out the window, at least for anytime in the relative near future since Fedor just signed a long-term deal with Affliction. Unless Affliction goes under in the next six months, and a miracle happens at the bargaining table between Zuffa and M-1, you won’t be seeing Fedor step into the Octagon in 2009. Quite honestly, I would be very surprised if you ever do.
We’ll keep you posted…
[UPDATE 8/30/08 1:25AM ET] – Dave Meltzer has confirmation and additional details.
A source close to Randy Couture has confirmed today that Couture is in negotiations with UFC for a new three-fight deal which would end the nearly nine month legal battle between the two sides.
If the deal is closed, and the source said they are hoping to conclude negotiations and announce the match sometime within the next week, Couture would face Brock Lesnar on 11/15, most likely in Portland, Oregon.
Couture was said to be hoping that if everything went well, the next two fights could involve Fedor, Nogueira, and/or Chuck Liddell. However, all previous hangups involving Emelianenko and UFC remain.
Like I said before, Fedor just signed a contract extension with Affliction, so A LOT would have to happen to make that fight a reality for one of Randy’s three fights. No wonder Tom sounded so relieved.
I’m down with seeing Randy fight Lesnar and Nogueira, but please, we don’t need Couture vs. Liddell IV. We all know how that story ends.
[UPDATE 8/30/08 11:52AM ET] – Ariel Helwani is reporting the UFC is considering a proposal from M-1 to book the Fedor vs Randy fight.
Believe it or not, the UFC is also considering a proposal from M-1 Global to co-promote a Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko bout following the Lesnar fight in November. The third proposed fight would be a bout against either current interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira or Chuck Liddell – depending on where both fighters are in their respective careers. However, given the nature of the fight game and the fighters involved, it’s hard to predict what will happen that far in advance.
Believe it or not is right. I still have a hard time believing the UFC and M-1 will actually come to terms in an agreement. Fedor’s Affliction deal is non-exclusive and said to have a US-only non-compete clause, so maybe they can get around all that by holding the fight overseas or even Canada. I can help but wonder though if the UFC is just “considering” M-1’s proposal to seal the deal with Randy, and throwing out the window after he does sign.
Who knows though. In the past week, A fighter has changed his name to War Machine, KJ Noons passed up the biggest opportunity of his life, Rampage plead not guilty, Fedor wore Minnie Mouse ears in public, and the UFC is supposedly talking to CBS again. It’s been a wild week, so why not?
[UPDATE 8/30/08 7:02PM ET] – This story won’t quit. MMAJunkie.com is reporting the UFC are in talks with Randy and Fedor for a January or February 2009 fight.
The long-rumored heavyweight superfight between UFC champion Randy Couture (16-8 MMA, 8-5 UFC) and WAMMA champion Fedor Emelianenko (28-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is currently being discussed for an as-yet-unspecified date in January or February of 2009.
Sources inside Couture’s Xtreme Couture camp today informed MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of the ongoing negotiations between the UFC and both fighters.
The fight is far from a done deal. Many of the same issues that prevented Emelianenko from signing with the UFC during previous negotiations must still be ironed out. But it appears that the UFC and representatives for both Couture and Emelianenko are working towards bringing the two legends together for a Feb. 2 bout.
What doesn’t make sense in the report is the Feb. 2 date for a few reasons. Feb. 2 happens to be a Monday, the GSP/Penn II mega-fight is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 31, and Affliction has plans for Fedor to fight the Barnett/Arlovski winner in Jan/Feb, and they still have to persuade him not to fight on NYE. The date’s likely a typo on Junkie’s part, unless CBS has something to do with it. At this point, nothing would surprise me. But, I still wouldn’t get your hopes up.