That’s the word according to Randy Couture via Steve Sievert’s Brawl Sports Blog on the Houston Chronicle website:
“We got an official offer from M-1 to the UFC to do a co-promotion for the Couture-Emelianenko fight, and they (UFC) rejected that offer. Really, the only thing standing in the way for that fight right now is Dana and the UFC. Obviously, M-1 is happy to do a co-promotion like that. It only serves to help them. I think the UFC is looking at it the other way, and it’s like why do we want to help out another organization? The fans want to see that fight. At some point, you have to put that first.”
The UFC will only cross promote when it’s in their best interest to do so. When they sent Chuck Liddell to PRIDE in 2003, there was a real possibility that Chuck would eventually fight Wanderlei Silva and that he would beat him, thus ending the debate about PRIDE fighters vs. UFC fighters. Even though Chuck ran into a buzzsaw in Quinton Jackson, cross promoting with PRIDE was in their best interest.
When they cross promoted with K-1 back in 2006 to bring Royce Gracie back to the Octagon to face Matt Hughes, it was in the UFC’s best interest. Of course Hughes was going to beat him. The game had passed Gracie by and it was a winning situation for the UFC.
Couture vs. Fedor is not in the UFC’s best interest unless it’s under the UFC banner. Like Randy said, it only helps M-1 in one form or another. It gives them publicity, it gives them press, and it gives them legitimacy. It’s a big money fight, that’s for sure. But there’s too much risk involved in putting the fight on, especially when that fight will help legitimize a fledgling promotion who wants to become a major player.