Update: To clarify, if Arlovski wants to become a free agent, he will have to serve the final fight remaining on his UFC contract, assuming the UFC formally presents him with a fight option prior to the expiration date of his current deal.
In his latest column for the Dayton Daily News, Dann Stupp of MMAjunkie.com discusses how Andrei Arlovski and Randy Couture, two heavyweights still under to the contract to the UFC, both made their presences known during this past Saturday’s HDNet Fights card that featured a co-main event between Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. Tim Kennedy and Frank Trigg vs. Edwin Dewees.
According to Stupp, Arlovski indicated that he doesn’t plan to fight for the UFC again. He has one fight remaining on his contract, which expires in April.
Even if the the UFC doesn’t schedule Arlovski’s last fight by April, he still becomes a free agent, so long as he doesn’t turn down a fight offer.
As for Couture, his fighter contract expires in July. He expressed an interest in fighting Fedor Emelianenko this coming October, once his employment contract with the UFC expires.
Stupp indicates that Couture once again reiterated that he “resigned” as opposed to “retired” from the UFC, as UFC President Dana White has stated. White’s comments were believed to be a proactive defense against potential litigation from Couture’s camp. If a fighter under UFC contract retires, that contract becomes frozen, meaning the days towards the expiration of the term stop counting down.
According to Dave Meltzer’s daily update on Sunday, there are legal proceedings that are in preliminary stages going on in regard to Couture’s contract status with the UFC. Unless there’s some unknown loophole, “resigned” vs. “retired” could be a moot argument because the expiration on the term of a typical UFC contract doesn’t mean a fighter is a free agent if he still owes the promotion fights. Couture still has two fights left on his UFC contract.
It’s also important to clarify that Couture did not say he will be fighting Fedor in October, only that he’d like to. Many sites have taken his comments out of context and are reporting the match as being a definite when that’s far from the case.
Speculation that the UFC could work with M-1 Global in a cooperative fashion also is not realistic. As long as it is the clear cut number one promotion in the world the UFC has no incentive to work with promotions it perceives as competition.
With his contractual freedom in question and a co-promotion between the UFC and M-1 Global unlikely, it’s unclear just how Couture may be able to get the match with Fedor that he wants. Unless something unexpected happens, it appears we may never see the current UFC heavyweight champion compete again.
It’s interesting that Arlovski is publicly ruling out the UFC. Is that a negotiation ploy or is he being sincere? If he’s being sincere, then I’m not sure he’s getting good advice.
It’s hard for me to say for sure what’s in Arlovski’s best interests when it’s unknown what the UFC has offered in way of an extension, however, I have doubts he’ll be offered more money elsewhere.
Right now, Arlovski’s management can’t talk openly with other fight promotions. However, back channel talks between fighters and promotions take place on a regular basis. I still don’t see where a better offer might come in. Arlovski doesn’t fit into the IFL’s business model and EliteXC is being more frugal these days.
M-1 Global is a possibility but President/CEO Monte Cox traditionally has not been a big spender. That’s not to say he won’t pay a guy top dollar, but I don’t expect him to go out and overpay for fighters because that’s just not his style.
Short-term, Arlovski is an obvious fit for M-1 because they need as many viable challengers for Fedor as possible. But what happens if Arlovski faces Fedor and loses? What’s next for him at that point?
At the end of the day no promotion can consistently offer Arlovski as many big-time matchups as the UFC.
They say the grass is always greener but for Arlovski and Couture that might not actually be the case.
Click here to read Stupp’s article in its entirety.