Another twist now added to UFC 77. According to Kevin Iole’s Yahoo! Sports article, the winner of the bout taking place in Cincinatti between Tim Sylvia and Brandon Vera will go on to face Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira for the now vacant UFC heavyweight title. Toward the bottom of the article Iole states “The winner of the Brandon Vera-Tim Sylvia fight on Saturday at UFC 77 in Cincinnati will meet Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the vacant heavyweight title sometime early next year.”
This comes as a bit of a surprise to me since Nogueira has only had one fight in the UFC so far and that was against Heath Herring, someone he had beaten twice in previous encounters while in PRIDE. Then again the UFC has done this before, giving fellow PRIDE fighter Quinton Jackson only one debatably “easy” fight with Marvin Eastman before offering him a title shot/rematch with Liddell. While some feel that Nogueira is being offered a title shot prematurely, I’m definitely excited to see the match between Minotauro and Brandon Vera in the future (Yes, I’m assuming Vera will win on Saturday.)
Back to Randy Couture news. The article goes on to say that fans should expect Couture to attempt to fight after nine months, when he should be a free agent. Though legal battles are likely to follow:
“Couture believes he can be a free agent after sitting out nine months, which would mean he figures he can fight Emelianenko sometime in late spring or early summer of 2008. UFC president Dana White insists Couture must fight twice for the UFC to fulfill his contract and become a free agent. Those differences of opinion are going to land the parties in court. After nine months, expect Couture to try to fight and the UFC to go to court to stop him. Couture will argue that time is of the essence, because he’ll be nearly 45, and that if he isn’t granted a court order and allowed to fight, he’ll be irreparably harmed. The UFC will argue that its entire business will be undermined if Couture is allowed to break his contract.”
So what do we think? Will Couture be able to fight again with or without Dana Whites blessing? Only time will tell.