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The Couture vs. Fedor Solution

I have read a lot of articles in recent days discussing the not-so-secret secret meeting between Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko in Los Angeles this past Monday. When Couture’s camp leaked the pictures, it was unclear just exactly what the two parties were meeting about. However, recent reports confirmed the two did discuss a potential mega-fight involving the two heavyweight champion fighters. It just so happens that Affliction held several small press gatherings in LA around the same time.

The renewed Couture vs. Fedor talk has prompted some to speculate that a settlement that would allow Couture out of his contract with the UFC could be near. Others have even speculated that the UFC could now be open to a co-promotion that would allow the Fedor vs. Couture fight to happen.

To be honest, it all sounds like wishful thinking to me. While I have read quite a few articles with writers trying to get our hopes up, nobody has reported in any sort of definitive fashion that the UFC’s stance has changed. Until we have proof that the UFC is either open to the idea of letting Couture walk or the possibility of a co-promotion, we have no reason to be any less pessimistic about a Couture vs. Fedor fight than we were three months ago.

It doesn’t matter that the UFC’s buck now stops with Lorenzo Fertitta on a daily basis. If you recall, Fertitta, who is notorious for shying away from UFC media events, made it a point to appear during the UFC’s press conference late last year in Las Vegas that was called to dispute some of Couture’s claims against the company. Just because Fertitta may not be anywhere near as outspoken as UFC President Dana White, it doesn’t mean his policies towards working with competitors are any different.

And a co-promotion? If the UFC was worried about the possibility of their heavyweight champion losing to Fedor before Affliction: Banned, then I don’t think Fedor’s brutal assault of former UFC champion Tim Sylvia on July 19 did anything to help ease their concerns. It also needs to be noted that the UFC has no interest in working with the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts. Couture is still the company’s recognized heavyweight champion and if he were to lose to Fedor, that would boost the credibility of WAMMA’s heavyweight title.

It’s obvious that Couture and Fedor’s camps want to not only renew talks with each other, but also the UFC. While I’m sure the UFC will listen, I don’t see talks being very fruitful. But despite my belief that Fedor vs. Couture will never happen, I still really want it to take place, as do most of the people reading this site. It’s not just a fight that people want to see, it’s a fight that needs to happen for the growth of the sport.

In thinking of various scenarios in which this fight could still happen, one idea came to mind that I think makes sense to all parties involved. Instead of the UFC being involved in a co-promotion, let them be the co-producer (or co-owner) of a Fedor vs. Couture fight.

The first thing that needs to happen is for the UFC to strip Couture of their heavyweight title. I think it’s silly that he’s still recognized as their heavyweight champion. I also think it isn’t helping Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira become a bigger star in the U.S. by constantly being referred to as the interim champion. The UFC needs to move on and distance themselves from Couture so that when he does fight Fedor, he won’t be perceived as the UFC’s heavyweight champion.

Once the UFC publicly distanced themselves from Couture, they would need someone to host the event. As much as Affliction and HDNet want to be involved, the UFC will never do anything that could help line their pockets. So why not allow M-1 Global to spearhead the effort and host the fight in Russia? The UFC wouldn’t attach their brand in any way to the event and M-1 Global would underwrite the entire show. The UFC would control the U.S. pay-per-view distribution of the event and be entitled to 50% of all revenue generated from the fight. The event would take place in January or March so that it wouldn’t compete with the UFC’s New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl weekend shows in December and February.

Here’s a breakdown of what each party would get:

The UFC -

– 50% of all profits generated from the Couture vs. Fedor fight
– M-1 agrees to underwrite the entire show, including the purses of all fighters
– Domestic rights to the PPV, DVD sales, and footage
– The ability to promote Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as its undisputed heavyweight champion
– Exclusive promotional rights of Randy Couture should he defeat Fedor. This means the UFC could promote Couture vs. Nogueira and Couture vs. Lesnar fights in the future.
– An agreement by Couture not to disparage the company publicly
– A written guarantee that the Couture vs. Fedor fight will not be promoted as the UFC vs. WAMMA or UFC vs. M-1 Global

M-1 Global -

– 50% of all profits generated from the Couture vs. Fedor fight
– Permission to promote Randy Couture for one event outside of the U.S.
– International rights to the PPV, DVD sales, and footage
– B-Roll footage of Randy Couture for promotional purposes
– A guarantee from the UFC that they will not counter-program the PPV on Spike TV

When it’s structured in the way laid out above, it becomes nothing more than a cash play for the UFC with any downside virtually eliminated. The fight would take place and the UFC would make money off of it without building up one of their primary competitors and without the risk of its heavyweight champion losing to a fighter that is not contracted to its promotion.

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