After much speculation over the holiday weekend, the UFC officially announced today that the organization and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture have come to terms on bringing the champion back. The two parties ended their bitter legal battle, which started last October when Couture resigned from the company. A year ago, the 45-year old Couture left his post as champion with the company because the level of “disrespect” that he was shown.
UFC President Dana White stated at today’s conference call that Couture will be returning to the Octagon at UFC 91 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will be defending his title against the up and coming Brock Lesnar.
“Obviously [Lesnar] is a great big guy,” Couture said on the call. “On the ground or standing he poses some interesting problems. I’ve got to go to work and find the answer to those questions.”
Current UFC interim heavyweight champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, is already slated to take on Frank Mir at UFC 92 in December. Nogueira became interim champion by defeating Tim Sylvia, after Couture resigned from his post as champion last October.
White stated that Mir and Nogueira will still square off for the interim title, with the winner facing the winner of the Couture/Lesnar bout later down the line to unify the title.
“No matter whether Randy wins or loses (the bout with Lesnar), he will still be in the UFC,” White said.
UFC 91 was initially rumored to be held in Portland, Oregon, however White said that it has been more difficult than expected to finalize the deal, so the UFC decided to throw the event in their back yard. It is still possible that the UFC will hold an event in Oregon sometime down the line.
At the time of his resignation, a major concern for Couture was that because of his age and previous accomplishments, there was only one fight out there that he felt made sense in solidifying his career. That was to face consensus #1 ranked Fedor Emelianenko, however when the UFC was unable to sign the free agent, Couture’s issues with the organization came to light.
When asked on the conference call today why a fight against Lesnar would “make sense,” Couture simply stated that, “it was part of the resolution,” and fighting Lesnar would help him eventually make the fight with Emelianenko happen. But Couture added that, “Fedor needs to come and fight me.”
If one were to read between the lines, that means that the only way that this fight is going to happen is under a UFC held promotion. It had been rumored that the UFC was willing to re-open talks about the possibility of co-promoting a card with M-1 Global, Emelianenko’s promotion, in order to make the mega fight happen. However, White was quick to dispel those rumors.
White made it clear that he would love to make that fight happen, however Emelianenko already has a contract in place with other promotions, and he would not want to interfere with it. He also made it perfectly clear, numerous times, that the UFC is not interested in running a co-promotion of any kind.
At one point in the conference call, Lesnar seemed irritated that Emelianenko’s name kept coming up, “Who gives a (expletive) about Fedor!? This fight is between me and Randy,” stated the former professional wrestler.
As previously reported here on 5thRound.com, the UFC and Couture tore up his old contract, which still had two fights remaining on it, and replaced it with a more lucrative three-fight deal.