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Report: Couture’s UFC return to be made official today

Steve Cofield of Yahoo! Sports and ESPN Radio in Las Vegas is reporting that the UFC has called a press conference to take place at 3 p.m. ET. At that time the UFC is expected to announce that it has ended its impasse with UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture and that he has agreed to terms on a new three-fight contract with the promotion.

The UFC has confirmed on its website that it will be holding a conference call later today to make a “major announcement” but no reference was made to the subject matter.

The UFC could also announce at the press conference that Couture’s first fight back with the promotion will take place at UFC 91 on Nov. 15 in Portland, Oregon against former NCAA and WWE heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

The new accord ends months of public sniping and litigation between the two parties. The feud between Couture and the UFC became public last October when Couture’s camp announced to the media that he had resigned from the company with two fights remaining on his contract.

At the time, Couture cited the reasons for his departure having to do with the fact that the promotion showed him an overall lack of respect and that it was unable to make a fight happen between he and Fedor Emelianenko.

The UFC did not accept the resignation and insisted that it still possessed Couture’s contractual rights under terms of his fighter contract that lasted through this past July. Even though the term had elapsed, the UFC contended that they still held exclusive promotional rights because the number of fights owed to the promotion had not been exhausted.

Couture also had signed a separate employment agreement with the company that included a one-year non-compete clause. The three-time heavyweight champion resigned on Oct. 11, 2007 and believed he would be free and clear of his contractual obligations to the promotion on Oct. 12, 2008.

Legal proceedings to determine whether Couture’s position was correct have taken place in recent months but his legal team suffered several setbacks, prompting both parties to enter into arbitration proceedings in Las Vegas during the summer in order to attempt to settle the stalemate through negotiations as opposed to civil court proceedings.

In addition to the potential fight vs. Lesnar at UFC 91, other potential opponents rumored for future matchups include Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Emelianenko, and Chuck Liddell.

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