Randy Couture has turned down the offer to defend his title against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81 but still would like to continue to work with the UFC in other capacities according to MMA Weekly:
In a meeting with Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White last Tuesday, current heavyweight champion Randy Couture turned down a proposed title defense against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81 on Feb. 2, 2008.
“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.”
There’s nothing else you can say except for this is bad news for the UFC. The UFC and Randy Couture can’t come to terms and they can’t get him the fight he wants, which is against Fedor Emelianenko. It seems that Tim Sylvia vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81 for the now vacant heavyweight title is looking more and more likely.
Randy will probably continue to work for the UFC in other capacities such as ambassador, commentator, and figurehead for the regulation of mixed martial arts in non-regulated states but whether or not we’ll see him in the Octagon again is a complete question mark. For all intents and purposes Randy Couture is retired. Not resigned. Retired.