Couture vs Lesnar…but what about Noguiera?
With all of the speculation surrounding Randy Couture’s potential return to the UFC, lost in the shuffle is current Interm Champion Antonio Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Noguiera.
Couture is rumoured to be making a return in November against Brock Lesnar, as the main event at UFC 91 scheduled for Portland, Oregon. The questions surrounding the situation are coming from all angles.
With the UFC still pronouncing that Couture is their champion and never stripping him of the title, would a potential fight vs Lesnar actually be a title fight? Does Lesnar already deserve a title fight in the UFC? Would this be a non-title fight and if so why? So many questions and with a variety of angles that the UFC could steer the ship, my fingers point to Nogueira, the man who should be next for Couture if he returns to the UFC.
I had the chance to speak with Noguiera`s manager, Ed Soares, who seemed genuinely excited to here of Couture`s potential return. “The UFC has not mentioned anything to us, but Randy coming back to the UFC would be great. It`s definitely great for everyone involved.”
But what does this mean for Nogueira, the man who has waited in the background, quietly and patiently for the Couture situation (with the UFC) to be resolved), in hopes to unify the UFC title. Does all this talk of Lesnar strike a sour chord with the Brazilian and his camp?
Soares was definetly not bitter that Couture`s rumoured opponent is Brock Lesnar but what about the heavyweight championship? If Randy is the champion, then surely this would be for a title fight. But Lesnar getting a title shot in just is fourth professional MMA fight does not seem fair, especially considering Noguiera is the Interm Champion and in essence, fought for the right to fight Couture when he defeated Tim Sylvia in a brutal three round fight. Seems like it was all for not, or does it?
“I fully expect the UFC to do the right thing”, said Soares. “From day one they have always been 100% honest with us and I am confident they will be in this scenario. Many people say bad things about the organization but we’ve never experienced anything negative at all.”
But what is the ‘right thing’ to do?
“In a perfect world, I guess Randy lives by his original statement and position that he has resigned as the heavyweight champion, and that UFC agrees with it”, thus making this a non-issue. “This ends up being a tune up fight for Couture” and if he beats Lesnar, a title shot for Couture in 2009, vs the winner of Noguiera and Frank Mir, scheduled for December 27th, in the UFC’s annual New Year’s Eve show.
This story continues to heat up and with Xtreme Couture publicly stating that Couture is in training and flying in ‘large opponents’ to get him ready for a potential bout with Lesnar, once again, it is Noguiera who must sit in the background and wait for a chance to take on Couture.