It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned one of Adam Morgan’s articles … usually I only write about stuff when I have something to add, and Adam typically covers everything. But not this time! A few days back Adam went over potential opponents for Randy Couture, but he was a bit high on the speculation and low on the facts. But don’t worry buddy ol’ pal … I’ve got you covered.
First off, lets take a look at what we have for contender matches over the next few months. Randy has basically said he doesn’t expect to be fighting again this year so we’ve got several months for the HW division to sort it’s shit out and vomit up a suitable challenger. So far the matches are:
Mirko Crocop vs Cheik Kongo
This fight was booked to create some fireworks, and to let Mirko show off his striker’s pedigree. If Mirko wins, I have very little doubt in my mind that he’ll be next in line to fight Randy. This is kinda too bad … in my opinion title shots shouldn’t be given to guys who aren’t coming off a streak.
But the UFC paid big money and really only have Crocop for 6 fights. Kongo will be fight #4, and if fight #5 isn’t for the title I don’t know if Mirko will stick around and sign another contract with the UFC. Back when he signed this contract, he said several times that he planned to retire once it was through. Will he re-sign with the UFC if he hasn’t even gotten a title shot? Will he retire if he’s only defended the belt once? Pride is a huge part of Mirko’s reason for still fighting … if he hasn’t cememted his legacy by the end of his existing contract, will pride be enough to bring him back?
On the other hand, I don’t see Kongo getting a title shot if he beats Mirko. The idea of him and Randy Couture squaring off is about the most hilarious thing ever. Maybe in three years once Kongo has spent enough time at Big Bear to really wrestle … but no way Kongo even gets near a title without two more solid wins under his belt.
Tim Sylvia vs Brandon Vera
Honestly, no one wants to see Tim Sylvia vs Randy Couture 2. But if Tim beats Brandon Vera, it might have to happen sooner rather than later. Dana White has proven that he’s willing to toss title shots out the window if a fighter gets an unimpressive win, so Tim’s chances of being the next guy to fight Randy are really dependant on how he does against Vera. Considering the situation, it will take a very impressive win indeed to cinch an immediate rematch with the Natural.
On the other hand, the UFC has already proven that they’re 100% behind Brandon Vera with multiple press releases. If Vera manages to get by Tim Sylvia, he’ll have lived up to the hype and gained the mainstream approval all fighters seem to get after smashing Tim’s face up. But where does this put him for a title shot? In a pretty good spot, actually. Even if Crocop wins, the Croatian’s contract and Dana White’s apparent iffyness on Mirko’s reliability could swing the title shot back onto Brandon Vera’s plate.
There’s still a lot of guys who need to be booked as well:
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Big Nog is the one rumored to be Randy’s next opponent, but the UFC would have to be crazy giving him a title shot after his performance with Heath Herring. While Gonzaga might have been prematurely thrown into a title shot, at least fans felt he earned it with his domination of Mirko Crocop. If the UFC wants to sell Nog as a real threat to Randy Couture, he’ll have to get past someone impressivel. However, there’s not a whole bunch more fighters that the UFC can legitimately throw into the ring with Nogueira. If I were Joe Silva I’d put him against Fabricio Werdum by the November show. An impressive win again Werdum could be what’s needed to put Nog into contention in the average fan’s mind.
Andrei’s going to be a benchwarmer until he signs a new contract with the UFC. I wouldn’t expect this to happen any time soon … the UFC is overly cocky about the strength of it’s Heavyweight division right now (which is a bit stupid considering how most of the big name guys are underperforming). Plus it makes a certain amount of sense for Andrei to sit out and let the new heavyweights sort themselves. So don’t expect this staring contest to end any time soon. My bet is on Andrei showing up on New Years Eve at earliest, and there’s no way in hell he’ll be the next guy to fight Randy.
Haha, just kidding!
The wild card. Unsigned at this point, Randy Couture made a big deal of asking specifically for the potbellied Russian. After seeing Dana White joygasm over Wanderlei Silva’s signing, I think we all know it’s a fight he’d give his firstborn to make. The question is if there’s ironclad procedures within the UFC preventing him from signing a deal with unusual exceptions.
Everyone keeps saying Combat Sambo is the huge stumbling block, but I can’t see it being the main one. UFC fighters have been participating in the ADCC and other grappling tournaments for years, so why would this be the main sticking point? There’s definately something bigger going on here … it wouldn’t surprise me to learn Fedor’s management is trying to force a UFC/M-1 co-promotion in Russia.
Only time will tell what’s going to happen, but one thing is for sure. The moment Fedor signs with the UFC, he’ll become first in line for a heavyweight title shot.
Mirko is still in the lead as most likely to fight Couture next. Brandon Vera comes next, and unless the UFC is willing to wait until February to have Randy back in the ring, I don’t see Big Nog being next in line. Tim Sylvia would have to rip Vera’s head off and shit down his neck to get a title shot, and Andrei’s stuck on the sidelines so don’t expect anything from him.