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Who’s next for Randy Couture?

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 Arlovski
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.

Heath Herring
Haha, just kidding!

Fedor Emelianenko
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.

Conclusion
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.

  • http://www.mmanews.com Rory

    1+1 = 3?

  • kentyman

    Wow, that was actual MMA analysis. I was hoping for more testicle jokes.

  • ajadoniz

    Fedor FTW

  • Mobb Deep

    If Fedor is not signed, I can see Dana having Cro Cop and Nog fight for the #1 spot, espeacially given that Cro Cop wants a rematch.

  • Andrej

    Ben Rothwell, Top 3 Heavyweight according to Pat Mitelich.

  • http://GTI TIGERTAO

    Wow I actually have a valid, forum to make to make a factual suggestion WTF?

    The sticking point between the UFC and Fedor has to be the fact that Fedor wants other undisclosed members of the Red Devil team signed to UFC contracts, I’d love to see his bro signed up, but who the hell are these other guys?
    Maybe your right on the forced M1 event, lots of fighters from Fedors camp fight there. I think Fedor wants to fight MMA in his own country, the UFC are never gonna do a full event there but they could concede to do a special Moscow fight Night or similar small show…

  • http://GTI TIGERTAO

    Oh and Kongo will be Cro Cop’s 3rd UFC fight dumb ass ; )

  • http://www.fightlinker.com fightlinker

    SHIT! Last time I try to use my goddamn brain

  • Rollo the Cat

    “I’d love to see his bro signed up, but who the hell are these other guys?”

    Red Devil has some good fighters. Sidilnikov looks promising, Zentsov is exciting, Suloev is a veteran, and Samoilov needs work. Overall, the UFC shouldn’t be objecting to strenuously to signing some of Fyodor’s teammates.

    Russians, unfortunately, are a bitch to deal with in negotiations. They expect honesty and integrity from you, but feel they don’t need to show you the same. I suspect Zuffa has some wise ass know it all American lawyer talking with Finkelstein. He needs some native Russian help.

  • Swedish guy

    I am a bit confused about actually reading analysisticish content at fightlinker.com… is this a dream?

    btw, joygasm must be the best word ever.

    and btw again, heath herring ftw lol

  • Jonathan

    This is fucking pathetic. I expected more from you guys…like more cool humor and MMACalifornia.net jokes.

  • http://www.fightlinker.com fightlinker

    Listen to this week’s podcast … we talk about Erin. We’re still waiting to find out what women want : Girth or length?

  • Arcangel

    I think the deal is near done… it will be Fedor… all the talk from all camps suggest that… and my understanding is that it is the Red Devils signing that is complicating matters… although I do agree with the other poster… some interesting Russian fighters…

    besides they like to finish fights so that bodes well for entertainment value…

    The one you missed out on… that is close to signing and might get a shot straight away… is Brock Lesnar…

    That would be a marquee matchup for shock value alone…. but I would prefer to se Brock Fight a pure striker like CroCop…

    Personally I would love to see Brock Lesnar because one way or the other I think it would be entertaining… whether he smashes people or gets KO’d Williams/Coleman style…. plus I would love to see a bunch of WWE wrestelers get the beatings for REAL…

    I was never a big fan of WWE but there was allot of characters there that would make for a REAL good pummeling…. ANgle, Batista, Stone Cold, Undertaker, The Big Show, The Great Khali, Goldberg, … etc etc…

    I would pay money to see them up against even has been MMA Fighters… say against Shamrock’s, Severn, Gracie’s, Phil Baroni, Coleman, Fujita, Vochanchin, Ortiz, Tank Abbott, Belfort, Miletich, Barnett… etc etc…

    K1 Heroes would sound more appropriate with Headliners like that…

    There would be some good money and great marketing for freakish fights like that… and most of those MMA guys aren’t really locked in anywhere…

    Also I think like Season 4 of TUF the UFC should have Pride Style Tournaments for almost rans in each division….

    Lets take the Heavyweight Division for example… guys standing on the outside such as…. Mir, Gonzaga, Arlovoski, Herring, Werdum, Kongo, Sylvia, & Monson throw them in a tournament instigate some excitement… and interest, and create another solid contender in the process… who can pull a Serra and take on the Champ…

    I wouldn’t suggest this for the money fighters like Nog, Vera, Crocop etc… because of their value… but the level just below them… since they sign multi fight deals it would be a way of generating some interest in guys who are down on their luck… besides everyone likes a good comeback story…

    Sorry for the length…. but my picture wouldn’t have been rejected for girth or growth… so I am used to length…lol

  • http://www.fightlinker.com fightlinker

    Brock looks like he’s headed to the UFC but won’t get a title shot until he’s proven himself against other top notch guys … considering the state of the HW division, he’s got a long way to go before being considered top 3 in the UFC.

    WWE in general is a tainted brand the UFC wants to stay away from … they got snarled in the Benoit story because Sherk and Franca tested positive right after.

  • Arcangel

    I agree that should be the case… but with the money he will get… I’m not sure if it is smart to risk putting him in with the contenders and missing out on a huge pay day…

    and you do make some very good points… not being a fan of the WWE I can attest to your assessment… but seriously with the amount of fighters testing positive in MMA… the UFC is not far behind… in tainted branding.. throw in a few extended chokes… and some late punches… and the general public are horrified…

    but who cares what they think anyways…

    I say juice them all… so we can see more knock outs and one armed power slams…

    besides I find it ridiculous how they suspend people for smoking weed… I am personally not a pothead… and never cared for it… but to suspend a guy because he has got the munchies and has trouble making weight is stupid…

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