Captain America is back in the UFC, and he and Dana White are best buds once again. At least, that was the story from White’s end on today’s UFC conference call. You could practically hear the smile on his face as the UFC president announced that his heavyweight champ was back and would face Brock Lesnar in a five-round title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on November 15. While White said the organization still plans to go to Portland, Oregon eventually — the rumored site of UFC 91 — he played down any notion that the event was ever really headed there. As for the intense legal battle with Couture, that’s all water under the bridge now, as far as White’s concerned, and there is no bad blood between them.
“Through this whole thing I never said anything really bad about Randy,” White said. “I think the worst thing I said about him was that he was confused. I like Randy. I always have.”
While both White and Couture repeatedly said they were thankful to have the legal dispute over, Couture sounded a slightly different note, suggesting at times that he’d simply been worn down by the lengthy process.
He described himself as “frustrated by our legal system” and said he was “tired of throwing money around with no end in sight.” He also seemed to have been persuaded by the fact of his own age and the prospect that he might not get to fight any time in the near future if not in the UFC.
“I’m forty-five, and I can’t sit around in courtrooms much longer,” said Couture.
White painted a picture of a more amicable dispute, suggesting that communication between Couture and the UFC never broke down.
“When you’re in a legal situation like we were in, you’re talking everyday. We never went to court. The furthest we got was depositions…We resolved it.”
Naturally, the talk turned to Fedor Emelianenko and the chances of making a bout with Couture happen inside the UFC. White certainly didn’t rule it out, but said that as long as the Russian was under contract with “another organization,” the UFC wouldn’t be actively pursuing him.
Asked whether the Fedor fight was essential to his legacy, Couture implied that it was more important to Fedor’s posterity than his own.
“If people are going to take him seriously and give him credit as the number one heavyweight in the world, he needs to come fight me.”
Feeling a little left out in all this was Brock Lesnar, who blew up when asked whether he’d be interested in fighting Fedor.
“Who gives a shit about Fedor? I’m fighting Randy Couture, November 15…I don’t care about fucking Fedor.”
Throughout the call Lesnar’s amateur wrestling credentials were trumpeted, as was his victory over Heath Herring. When asked how this lone UFC victory made Lesnar the number one contender for the UFC heavyweight strap, White remained non-committal.
“It’s not that he’s the number one contender, but he looked damn good against Heath Herring…The good thing about the UFC is we don’t have to deal with the boxing political bullshit…Couture versus Lesnar will be the biggest fight in UFC history.”
White proceeded to guarantee “over a million” pay-per-view buys for the event, and said the winner would face the winner of the next “Ultimate Fighter” coach showdown between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir. Those two will still fight for the interim title, White said, describing the situation as a “tournament” that would culminate in a “champion-versus-champion” match some time in 2009.
As for what he expected the Fedor situation to be like at that time, White said he would be “fucking horrified” if Affliction was still in the MMA business by then.