Say this for Randy Couture: once he gets an idea in his head, he doesn’t let go of it very easily. Couture showed up at HDNet Fights this past Saturday and made it very clear that he hasn’t given up on fighting the world’s top heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko. To hear Couture tell it, right now it’s just a waiting game.
“Unless the UFC wants to do a co-promotion with M-1 and make the Fedor fight happen, I’m going to have to wait ’til my contract expires.
I have no intention of breaching that contract; that expires in July. My employment contract expires with them in October. So I would assume the soonest you’d see me fight Emelianenko would be in October.”
I can’t decide if I should be reassured by the fact that Couture is insisting this fight will happen, or if I’m just getting my hopes up for no reason. Maybe the better question is, who is Couture really hoping to put the pressure on by making these announcements?
Note the carefully placed remark about the UFC doing some kind of cross-promotional deal with M-1, the company that hopes to make a profit somehow by renting Fedor out again and again. By not ruling out the possibility that the UFC might step up and make this fight happen, Couture might be indicating to the UFC brass that they can either arrange the fight while he’s still under contract or wait until October and then lose him altogether. No doubt the UFC has some kind of legal contingency plan to keep Couture from taking a fight in October, but all that might do is delay the fight a few months. Couture’s not getting any younger, but it doesn’t seem to bother him much.
The truth is that the UFC isn’t eager to engage in any type of cross-promotional events, and why would they? They know they’re the biggest show in town. Other organizations need them, not the other way around. Still, the fact that their heavyweight champion and the greatest ambassador the sport has ever had (Couture gave a pre-game speech to the Green Bay Packers, while Tito Ortiz goes on Celebrity Apprentice…just saying) is making public appearances so he can look into the camera and say ‘I want Fedor’ over and over, it might be enough to make the UFC swallow their pride.
There’s no question that a Couture-Fedor fight would be a huge success in terms of revenue, and the UFC is already going to run into some problems trying to scrape up main events this spring with their light heavyweight title held hostage on a reality show. The best part is, it probably wouldn’t be difficult to make the fight happen as part of a UFC event if they move fast. M-1 isn’t even close to putting on an event of their own, nor are they close to having enough fighters to fight on it. They’re basically a Fedor rental operation at this point. The UFC should move to make this fight happen in the spring, before they lose Couture and before M-1 has a chance to dig in and match Fedor against a juggling bear or a boxing kangaroo.
If the UFC is afraid of setting a precedent that will allow fighters to “resign” from their contracts, as Couture did, that’s understandable. What’s less so is if they let the fight of the decade slip through their hands just to make a point. I think it’s safe to say that whatever happens, Couture isn’t going to let this go anytime soon.