In a remarkable turn of events, Ultimate Fighting Championship has just landed the biggest MMA
fight of the year, and as pointed out by former ECW owner (and current UK SUN columnist) Paul Heyman, UFC President Dana White
may have dealt a death blow to the Donald Trump-endorsed Affliction MMA promotion as well.
Randy Couture has agreed to settle his lawsuit and counter-suits with UFC (and parent company Zuffa), and has signed to return to UFC on November 15th, when he'll defend the UFC Heavyweight Title in a 5 round cage fight against former WWE World Champion Brock Lesnar
The fight, which will be the main event of the UFC 91 pay per view, will now take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, instead of Portland, Oregon, where UFC was originally planning on hosting the event. In making the announcement via a media conference call, UFC President Dana White would not be cornered into declaring Lesnar the number one contender, instead admitted this is a marque matchup that UFC is going to market.
"We can basically put on fights that fans want to see," White stated matter of factly, "Mark my words, Couture vs. Lesnar will be the biggest fight in UFC history."
When Couture walked out on UFC in November, 2007, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira dominated the heavyweight division to become the Interim Champion. The Brazilian Jui Jitsu expert is scheduled to defend that title against Frank Mir
in December. Mir, a former UFC Champion famous for snapping Tim Sylvia's arm, defeated Lesnar on February 2nd in Lesnar's UFC debut. Plans are being made for a 2009 showdown between the winners of the Lesnar vs Couture and Nogueira vs Mir contests.
But there's more. This fight isn't only about Brock Lesnar, or even Randy Couture. It's about Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta Trumping The Donald!
Lesnar's former on-air agent in WWE, former World Wrestling Entertainment Smackdown head writer Paul Heyman discussed not only Lesnar vs Couture, but the real business motivations behind Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta's decision to settle with Couture.
In a major, exclusive story posted by the NewsCorp-owned UK SUN
earlier today (click here: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/ufc/article1637521.ece
), Heyman noted "Brock vs Couture is on one hand a very smart move by UFC because clearly, it's the biggest money fight of 2008."
Heyman continued, "On the flipside, it's a very dangerous move because it could stop Brock's momentum, and he has a ton of it coming out of the Herring fight. But the real story is going on behind the scenes. If UFC signs Couture for not just one fight, but three, then Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta have dealt a major blow to Affliction, which goes from being the promotion that will one day deliver Couture v Fedor, to just being the place where Fedor beats up the latest heavyweight who chooses to oppose him. A major part of Affliction's lure is lost. UFC, of course, then has all the leverage to get the Couture vs Fedor fight."
As far as the fact that one man has to lose this fight, and therefore lose some marketing credibility with the UFC audience, Heyman explained, "What happens if Couture gets beaten by Lesnar? Brock's whole gameplan against Heath Herring was simply not to screw up. Lesnar is not proficient at submissions, so he's not going to finish off Couture. His best strategy will be to dominate him, but every moment Lesnar is holding him down, Couture will be looking for any small mistake, a moment where he can capitalise on an opening from Lesnar. I think it's very dangerous matchmaking, because the downside for both fighters is enormous. But it's also very savvy as well, because with Affliction wounded, UFC can absorb the blow of Lesnar or Couture's marketability taking a hit with a loss to the other."