Despite a battle in the courts and a less-than-amicable split in October, Dana White isn’t giving up on Randy Couture and said he recently offered the estranged UFC heavyweight champion a fight with interim champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
White made the comments in Saturday’s post-UFC 82 press conference, which is now widely available on the web. MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has further news from the conference available in the UFC 82 archives.
Back in October, Couture resigned from the organization over what he perceived to be a lack of respect from UFC officials, issues over his pay, and the UFC’s inability to sign then-top free agent Fedor Emelianenko. White has continually asserted that it was, in fact, a retirement because “you can’t resign in the middle of a contract.”
Regardless, White said that the UFC hall-of-famer isn’t being ignored and has been offered fights since the resignation/retirement. Couture, meanwhile, has said he’s willing to come back — but only if the UFC can arrange a fight with Emelianenko, who signed a non-exclusive deal with the recently restructured M-1 Global organization in late 2007.
White, though, has other intentions and wants Couture to fight Nogueira, who won the UFC’s interim title by defeating Tim Sylvia in February at UFC 81.
“We offered (Couture) the fight last week, and we’re waiting to hear back from him,” White said.
He didn’t mention a possible date or venue for the event.
White also confirmed that he had offered Couture the fight with Nogueira once before. However, Nogueira wasn’t the interim champ at the time, and he hopes that may be enough to sway Couture into returning to the ring.
The 44-year old Couture signed a four-fight, 18-month contract with the UFC in January 2007. In addition to the fight contract, Couture had previously signed an employment contract with the organization. He resigned from the UFC in October 2007, and as part of the deal, he can’t work for a rival promotion for a full year from that date.
Couture has already signed a deal with HDNet Fights that kicks into effect when his deal with the UFC retires, according to Adam Swift of Sherdog.com. Mark Cuban, the owner of HDNet Fights, filed suit against the UFC in Dallas district court last month to get a declaratory judgment concerning the contractual status of Couture.
Additionally, late last week, the UFC successfully acquired a preliminary injunction in Las Vegas District Court halting Couture’s involvement in this weekend’s IFL event. The UFC contended that it would violate a non-compete clause in Couture’s contract.
An Xtreme Couture team comprised of fighters who train at his gym were instead lead by Xtreme Couture coach Sean Tompkins and fought under the “Team Tompkins” name.
For more on the series of events, check out the Randy Couture archives here on MMAjunkie.com.
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