It’s official. Randy Couture is coming back to the UFC and he will retain his heavyweight championship status. UFC President Dana White made the announcement today via conference call.
“As you all know, we’ve had problems with Randy over the last few months, but we’ve got them all worked out now. Randy has always been our heavyweight champion,” said White.
Couture, who left the UFC last year in a contract dispute, signed a new three fight deal and will make his return against Brock Lesnar at UFC 91.
The event, which was originally going to be held in Portland will now be moved to Las Vegas. White also confirmed that the fight will be a five round affair for the UFC heavyweight championship.
The winner of that fight will then face the winner of interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir in what White described as a kind of “heavyweight tournament.” Nogueira and Mir will face one another in late December as part of the UFC’s annual New Year’s Eve show.
As first reported exclusively on Fightline.com over the weekend, the UFC has agreed as part of Couture’s new contract, to attempt to co-promote a fight with consensus number one fighter Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture. Couture has lobbied to face Emelianenko for almost a year now and the two have met at least twice to try to arrange a match up. White stated that the fight could come as soon as 2009.
“We’re gonna do everything we can to make that fight happen,” said White. “Emelianenko’s under another contract right now to another promotion and if he becomes available or something works out with that other promotion — obviously everybody knows how crazy we are about protecting our contracts. Well, we would never do that to somebody else.”
In quite an amazing departure from the UFC’s stance regarding working with other promotions, White stated that he was open to co-promoting to make a fight between Couture and Emelianenko.
“I think a lot of compromises were made on both sides,” said Couture, “but we’re both ready to try and move forward.