Reigning UFC heavyweight Champion Randy Couture has turned down an offer to defend his title against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81.
Dana White apparently made the offer to Couture after a meeting the two had last week. Couture told MMAWeekly.com that during the meeting he was able to air out some of the issues he had with the UFC and “mend some fences.”
“We’ve cleared the air, and hopefully we’ll move forward with some sort of relationship,” Couture said. “I’ve got a lot of fighters and a lot of things that hinge around mixed martial arts and the UFC as well. I want to continue to work with them and I think that they want to continue to work with me, so we’ll figure out how that happens.”
As for his future, Couture said he’ll keep busy with multiple film projects and training, but he also still holds out hope that he may one day get to face Fedor Emelianenko; a fight that Couture himself has stated as the only one that makes sense for him at this stage of his career. There are contractual concerns however, that may make that match-up unlikely.
“Obviously I have a contractual obligation with the UFC. There’s been some haggling and things going on with all that, and Fedor signing with M-1 made the possibility of that fight very difficult because of that and because of those contracts,” he said.
In the mean time Couture seems content to just take life as it comes and enjoy himself.
“I think more than anything at this stage of things I want to slow down a little bit,” he said. “I’ve been burning it for three or four years now … I want to take some time and go on a vacation, spend some time with my wife. We’ve been married a year now and we’ve been together very, very little in that year; it’s been crazy. It’s been difficult on us. I’ve got a nice house and I don’t even get to spend any time in it hardly, so take a little time now and just smell the roses so to speak.”
As for the now vacant heavyweight title, it appears that rumors of a proposed match up between Nogueira and Tim Sylvia may have turned out to be true after all. Unsubstantiated rumors from Nogueira’s camp say that the contracts have already been signed and the fight is set for UFC 81. We’ll have more on that as soon as we get solid confirmation.