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Report: Couture’s UFC return to be made official today

Steve Cofield of Yahoo! Sports and ESPN Radio in Las Vegas is reporting that the UFC has called a press conference to take place at 3 p.m. ET. At that time the UFC is expected to announce that it has ended its impasse with UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture and that he has agreed to terms on a new three-fight contract with the promotion.

The UFC has confirmed on its website that it will be holding a conference call later today to make a “major announcement” but no reference was made to the subject matter.

The UFC could also announce at the press conference that Couture’s first fight back with the promotion will take place at UFC 91 on Nov. 15 in Portland, Oregon against former NCAA and WWE heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

The new accord ends months of public sniping and litigation between the two parties. The feud between Couture and the UFC became public last October when Couture’s camp announced to the media that he had resigned from the company with two fights remaining on his contract.

At the time, Couture cited the reasons for his departure having to do with the fact that the promotion showed him an overall lack of respect and that it was unable to make a fight happen between he and Fedor Emelianenko.

The UFC did not accept the resignation and insisted that it still possessed Couture’s contractual rights under terms of his fighter contract that lasted through this past July. Even though the term had elapsed, the UFC contended that they still held exclusive promotional rights because the number of fights owed to the promotion had not been exhausted.

Couture also had signed a separate employment agreement with the company that included a one-year non-compete clause. The three-time heavyweight champion resigned on Oct. 11, 2007 and believed he would be free and clear of his contractual obligations to the promotion on Oct. 12, 2008.

Legal proceedings to determine whether Couture’s position was correct have taken place in recent months but his legal team suffered several setbacks, prompting both parties to enter into arbitration proceedings in Las Vegas during the summer in order to attempt to settle the stalemate through negotiations as opposed to civil court proceedings.

In addition to the potential fight vs. Lesnar at UFC 91, other potential opponents rumored for future matchups include Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Emelianenko, and Chuck Liddell.

40 COMMENTS
  • BoRocker says:

    Excellent news for the UFC. Facing Brock in your first fight back….not so good for Randy. HUGE PPV numbers though….

  • Patrick says:

    His first fight back should be against Nog or the winner of Nog/Mir… Technically because the UFC keeps calling Nog the “interim” champ then Couture is the champ still?

  • trangleman says:

    Wow!!! Glad to see Randy back! I agree with the above comment though. Why not hav him fight a journeyman to get the cobwebs out then winner BigNog/Mir in March? They must have some type of headway on a Fedor/Couture fight in March otherwise it is not smart to put him up VS. A hungry gorilla like lesnar. Randy is a master planner and usually executes but all that goes out the window when someone that has @ fight time 70lbs on him and superior wrestling skills and oh yeah don’t forget 14 yrs younger. Good to have u back none the less Randy! Good luck, I think your going to need it!

  • DocWagner says:

    This is so completely odd…Lesnar? Why…Couture supposedly is STILL their HW champ.

  • brutus says:

    Nice to see two articles for us non-Americans posted at what be a quite early time for you.

  • SCOTT,LROCK says:

    FEDOR,FEDOR,FEDOR,FEDOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………..!

  • Sam Caplan says:

    You’re welcome.

  • saerbarnet says:

    This fight spells PPV-buys.

  • JBAR says:

    Randy makes too much money per fight to fight a lower tier fighter for a warm up fight. Plus Dana would not waste one of the 3 fights Randy is agreeing to on a fight he could not market as a PPV main event. Make Randy vs Brock a non-title fight and Randy can still fight the Mir vs Nog. fight for the title win or lose. If Brock wins the fight with Randy he would be in line to fight the winner of the title fight. If Randy could win both fights he would have 1 fight left on this 3 fight deal for Fedor.

  • stevefiji says:

    This was pure genius by Dana and the gang. Randy gets a guarantee on numbers that will be much bigger than Fedor. Dana puts a knife in the heart of Affliction with their ‘Fedorless’ 2nd event since almost everyone on a budget will choose this fight. It will also dominate the Internet sites and chat and put Affliction in an Elite XC typpe of scenario with their sophomore effort becoming a total bust!

    Brock gains even more credibility, win or lose, by taking on the current champ/ex-champ or whatever Randy is gonna be labeled… they can call it a tune-up match for Randy because he has been out of commission so long, so it does not have to be for a title and he still can legitimately fight the Nog/Mir winner even if he loses (where he can claim ring rust as the reason)… And if he does lose, he then has Lesner for another HUGE rematch if he then goes and beats the Nog/Mir winner.

    By then, Fedor is likely done with Affliction (as is the whole world) and he can either fight Japanese freakshows and in chump change Sambo events, or he can finally come into the UFC and make money plus real endorsements.

    There is no major downside to this from a UFC standpoint. Randy can also further delay his acting career and God knows he needs more acting lessons!

    Good news

  • JBAR says:

    However it plays out it will be great to have Randy back in action.

    This article should be a good test for the new server as it is much bigger news than the Kimbo / Rogers ordeal.

  • Cooped says:

    Once again, this makes no sense. Due to the UFC’s ‘technicallity’, Randy is still the champ. So if he lost to Lesner, Lesner would be the champ while Nog is still the interum? Plus, if Randy loses, why sould Fedor fight him? Of course, a ‘beltless’ Randy, may actually free him up to fight Fedor, since the UFC would not have to worry about their HW belt going outside of the promotion. And what about Nog? Once Randy steps into the ring, does Dana dissolve the ‘iterum’ belt? And why three fights instead of the final two left on Randy’s contract? And doesn’t Cuban hold a contract with Randy?

  • JBAR says:

    It makes more sense to get Randy back in the octagon to fight where both sides can make large sums of money as opposed to fighting in court where both sides are losing money.

  • Gygax says:

    Cuban’s contract with Randy was not a fight contract. It was HDnet promotion I believe. Just last week in an interview, White said Cuban was a “good businessman”, a stark contrast to what he previously had said about Mark. Might a deal have been strucken already between Cuban and White regarding Couture?

    The title picture is indeed very cloudy, but could be easily solved by making the Lesnar fight a non-title affair. MMA has done it in the past and while fans generally hate it, it could worj out in the long run. Marcus Aurelio beating Gomi the first time is an example. Gomi loses the non title affair, but it sets up a rematch for the title later. Stevefiji pointed that possibility out above.

  • JBAR says:

    If he loses to Lesnar I wouldn’t mind seeing him drop back to 205 and fight Dan Henderson, A. Silva or even W. Silva. The possibilities are endless.

  • Jeremy says:

    Excellent news that Randy is back and fighting again. Regardless of who he ends up fighting, I am happy he’s back. The Lesnar fight will be the biggest PPV numbers for the UFC this year and most likely set up a huge end of the year for the UFC with the news year show right after.

  • ctownhood says:

    Wow..I know Randy trains hard, but what is he gonna plan to do to Lesnar?

  • brutus says:

    Actually, I think I remember you Sam say something along the lines of the only matchup that could get Couture back in the UFC was a 2-0 Lesnar. Or maybe it was someone else, either way looks like it was a quite accurate guess.

  • aaronb says:

    I think Couture will have his hands full with Lesnar. I just don’t see what Randy will be able to do to Brock in the cage? Randy was never a real dynamic striker. Always more of a “Dirty Boxing” wrestler type. However Brock will have MAJOR size and strength advantages on Randy. Lesnar threw a 250+ pound Heath Herring around like a ragdoll. He manhandled a 250+ pound Frank Mir around before losing on a miracle submission. How is a 225 pound Randy Couture going to stop Brock Lesnar from laying on him?

  • warcry says:

    The UFC just laid claim to another weight-class. Now with Randy returning to the fold the Top weight classes in MMA are: Lightweight, Welterweight, Light Heavyweight, and now Heavyweight. The Ufc is consolidating its power and is moving every more quickly to eliminate the competition. Randy vs Brock wow!! That will be an incredible matchup. Fedor could be on the horizon. Christmas has arrived early for us MMA fans.

  • warcry says:

    This is the sort of news that dominates the day. Hell the year. It makes the EliteXC hijinx seem pointless.

  • aaronb says:

    I still want to see other MMA Organ-I-zations flourish. Before there was competition on the horizon, all we had was 1 UFC PPV per month. Once competition came in and upped the anti. Presto!!!! We have a UFC PPV and a Free spike show almost every month. Not to mention free EXC/Showbox and DREAM shows every month as well. Despite what some people want to believe. Competition has made everyone step their game up. And the winners in all of this is

    1. Us the fans

    2. The fighters who can make a living wage

    3. Future athletes, who would have tried something else 3 years ago. But now will give MMA a chance, now that they realize they can make some money at it.

  • JBAR says:

    Randy has always been one of the best at developing a gameplan for a fight that will neutralize his opponents strengths and expose his weaker areas (something he is passing on to Forrest). Lesnar’s size and strength will make it difficult in the clinch for Randy which is one of his favorite techniques so I am excited to see what kind of gameplan he comes out with to overcome this. I can see him using alot of leg kicks early to slow Brock down and trying to take this fight to the later rounds testing his conditioning, I can’t see a heavyweight in the world that would want to lock up with a fresh Lesnar early in a fight.

  • Grappo says:

    Excellent!

  • Panama says:

    If I was the UFC and with this new 3 fight contract, I’d have Randy fight Lesnar, if Randy wins, then he will fight Noguiera to unify the HW titles for an undisputed UFC champion, and if Randy can beat Nog (which I doubt) then he could earn his right to fight Fedor in the UFC. And the UFC can promote the Randy vs. Fedor as a PRIDE vs. UFC (Champion vs. Champion) event. I hope Fedor brings his PRIDE and WAMMA belts to the octagon.

    However, I am sure the UFC wouldnt allow Fedor to come to the UFC for a one fight deal because if he wins the UFC belt or beats their champion then what?

  • seth b says:

    Not fair to Nog and sheds a foul light on the whole idea of an “interim champion” if Randy does not defend against the interim in his first fight. This is coming from someone who would love to see Couture v Lesnar, just after clearing up the title confusion. How is this for a card?

    Randy v Nog.
    Mir v Lesnar.

    Winners fight for the title in the near future. These belts will stagnate and PPV buys will eventually fall if the focus is more on PPV buys than title reverance. What I mean is, if the UFC treats the titles like they are worthless (having interim titles that are worthless just to get some buys), eventually the fans will get the point and stop buying title fights because after all, they are worthless and will continue to be treated as so by the ufc.

  • Panama says:

    Then again, hold up. If Randy fights Lesnar, then Lesnar will be fighting for the HW championship. He doesn’t even deserve a shot at the title yet.

    But I do see some serious subplots if Lesnar beats Couture. Lesnar will fight Noguiera next to unify the belt. If Lesnar wins, the UFC will hype Lesnar as the unstoppable force and juggernaut and the more reason to bring in Fedor.

    Ultimately, I’d rather see Fedor fight Lesnar rather than Randy anytime, of course if Lesnar does begin to wreck havoc in the UFC.

    If Randy loses, I would love to see him fight in a “Hall of Famers” matchup against Mark Coleman.

  • Mark One says:

    Great to see Randy back but what the hell does he get out of a match up with Lesnar. If he wins he beaten a rookie and he loses then he’s lost to a rookie regardless of the fact that said rookie is twice his size…

  • Bill Lumberg says:

    GREAT NEWS-

  • Mike A says:

    what can he do vs. tha giant???

  • egad81 says:

    I hope Randy beats Brock because that would be AWESOME!

    Maybe with the new boss in the mix more the UFC is loosening the purse strings.
    Casino money is HUGE and so are the rivalries…. ZUFFA dont want to be TRUMPED into loosing MMA

  • jim smith says:

    What has Lesnar done to justify a fight with Randy? A one and one UFC record? It’s insulting for Randy to have to fight an up-and-comer, even with the time off.

  • Sam Siavoshi says:

    If I could kiss both Dana and Couture right now I would!
    This is possibly the best news I have heard out of the UFC for quite some time, especially amidst the Rampage spectacle and the Couture court proceedings. My only question is how did they get Randy to come back to the UFC? Was it simply a matter of money that the UFC was not initially prepared to dish out, or was the alleged statement “Fedor is the only fight that makes sense for me” from Randy not really the whole story? Him fighting Lesnar, or signing a three fight contract for that matter, must have required the turning of a certain “golden key” to re-open Couture up for negotiations.

  • screwface says:

    id much rather see lesnar fight couture then nog. nogs best days are way behind him. he almost lost to sylvia and herring. it would be a decent fight to see nog vs couture, but i think more fireworks for fans with lesnar. lesnar is a much more dangerous opponent for randy. dana is smart. he gave tito lachida for his last match knowing that titos style would not match up thus makin tito look washed up (and i dont believe that to be true) was just a really bad matchup. and i believe dana is doing it again. lesnars style is to beasty imo for randy. but id love to see randy beat down their golden boy and leave with a strut. this is a win win situation for all parties involved including the fans. yes all arguments are correct, lesnar hasnt done much to deserve this and nog and randy would be the obvious choice. but from a ppv draw and firework standpoint, u gotta love this.

  • aaronb says:

    Lesnar didn’t exactly get dominated in his loss. Other than Fedor, you would have to give Brock Lesnar a better than 50% chance to beat anybody out there.

  • just another A hole! says:

    Has any one thought maybe he comes back to fight Anderson Silva??? If he was smart he would stay out of the heavyweight division!! There’s too many people who would crush him now.

  • Simon says:

    Anyone know how/where to watch the conference. If at all…

  • Rich S. says:

    grrrrreat news!
    i don’t care who he fights.. i’m just glad to see him back..

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    “If I was the UFC and with this new 3 fight contract, I’d have Randy fight Lesnar, if Randy wins, then he will fight Noguiera to unify the HW titles for an undisputed UFC champion, and if Randy can beat Nog (which I doubt) then he could earn his right to fight Fedor in the UFC. And the UFC can promote the Randy vs. Fedor as a PRIDE vs. UFC (Champion vs. Champion) event. I hope Fedor brings his PRIDE and WAMMA belts to the octagon.”

    Didn’t Fedor, or rather his manager, always say that they wouldn’t want Couture in Fedor’s first UFC fight?

    If Couture can get by Lesnar (unlikely) and Big Nog (somewhat likely) to unify the HW title, a tune-up fight for Fedor against the likes of Gonzaga to set up a unification bout between Couture/Fedor would be insane.

    Although, it’s looking like they’re shooting for early 2009…

  • platypus says:

    lots of guys here are worried that if lesnar fights randy its a surefire loss to randy. i think whoever randy decides to fight, he will be the favourite, unless its against fedor.

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