UFC President Dana White officially announced during today’s media conference call that UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture has agreed to return to the UFC and will take on heavyweight contender Brock Lesnar at UFC 91.
The five-round championship matchup will headline a November 15th pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Couture unexpectedly announced his resignation from the UFC on October 11, 2007, citing the promotion’s inability to sign Emelianeko, pay issues, and other disputes with UFC management as his reason for resigning. The UFC did not accept Couture’s resignation, which was made with two fight remaining on his fight contract, and continued to recognize him as the UFC heavyweight champion and offer him fights. Though both Nevada and Texas courts ultimately became involved in the dispute both parties ultimately began arbitration in Nevada.
Meanwhile, the UFC created an interim heavyweight championship which Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira ultimately claimed with a third-round submission of former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. Though a heavyweight unification match is inevitable, the marketability of Couture’s return against Lesnar coupled with the significant money already-invested in The Ultimate Fighter 8, which features Nogueira and former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir as coaches, and UFC 91, where Nogueira and Mir will square off, has resulted in the postponement of the unification bout between the Couture-Lesnar and Nogueira-Mir winners until early-2009.