Earlier today we were treated to the announcement from Dana White that Randy Couture would be returning to the UFC. Not only will he be returning to the UFC but he will be fighting Brock Lesnar in a bout that White himself called “the biggest fight in UFC history.” And while it may not be the most meaningful fight in UFC history, he’s very correct in calling it the biggest fight in UFC history. Why? Because this fight and the fighters involved all revolve around one thing: money.
It’s not about whether or not Lesnar is legitimate enough to deserve a title shot. It’s not about what’s going on with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Frank Mir, TUF 8, and the interim title situation. It’s not about where Fabricio Werdum, who was told he would get a title shot sooner than later, goes from here. And it’s almost certainly not about the fight that Randy supposedly left the UFC for, which is the fight with Fedor. It’s about money.
But hasn’t it always been about money? Sure, Couture wanted to fight Fedor and said that played into his decision to leave the UFC but when it came down to it, it was the money that Couture wanted. He drug his bout agreements into the public eye for all to see at a special press conference from his own gym. The UFC brought their records out into public, something they never do, to show how much money they were paying Couture. So how much of this was really a ploy to get the fight with Fedor? Some of it, I’m sure. But not as much as most had previously thought. Not as much as we’d like to think. Obviously with Lesnar now in front of him and possibly the winner of Nogueira vs. Mir, it’s unlikely that we’ll see Couture vs. Fedor. Ever.
Why, you ask? Because Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight championship of the world will be one of the all time biggest pay per views in UFC history. I personally think it will outsell both Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz, the current #1 UFC pay per view, as well as Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz, which stands at #2 on the list. Couture’s drawing power combined with Lesnar’s drawing power is going to make for a huge payday for both men as well as the UFC. So what it all boils down to is money, plain and simple. I’m sure Couture would still love a crack at Fedor but that fight isn’t going to make him the kind of money that a fight with Lesnar will.
Is Fedor vs. Couture the fight we all want to see? Absolutely. But is it a fight that Casual Joe will pay $45 for? Absolutely not. Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar, though? Now those are two big names that Casual Joe can get behind. Fedor vs. Couture is for someone like you or me who watches every bit of MMA they can get their hands on and then your more casual MMA fan who knows who Fedor is. Couture vs. Lesnar, however, is for all those people plus the people that wouldn’t normally watch MMA. It’s for all the wrestling fans who want to see Lesnar against the most legitimate opponent he’s ever faced. It’s a fight for the masses not the hardcores.
Is that unfortunate in some ways? It sure is. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has to feel extremely disrespected. Frank Mir has to feel the same way because if Lesnar wins and he beats Nogueira then he’s got to fight a guy that he’s already beaten for the second time in three fights. Fabricio Werdum has to be thinking that he has to win at least two, if not three more fights to get himself back into title contention now as opposed to fighting for the title after one win. But you know what? Such is business. As much as we love mixed martial arts as a sport we have to also realize that it’s very big business when it comes to the UFC. They are going to make smart business decisions in regards to pay per views and matchups and not always what pleases the fan. Why? Because the bottom line is all that matters. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.