Zach Arnold thinks beyond Couture’s image and Mark Cuban’s MMA efforts, there are others who won’t fare so well either:
- Third, Affliction could be facing the prospects of not being able to book Couture vs. Fedor in their ring. You would have to assume that booking Couture vs. Fedor was going to be a major part of their business plan. After all, the two men shook hands at Affliction’s debut event in Anaheim.
- Unless Fedor agrees to fight the winner of Arlovski vs. Barnett (10/11 Las Vegas), WAMMA has to be prepared to strip the Russian of his title belt if he goes to UFC. Dana White will not allow any mentions of WAMMA whatsoever or even have that belt shown on PPV or TV.
- Out of all of the fighters in the MMA business, Randy Couture was in the best position to challenge parts of UFC’s somewhat controversial fighter contracts in regards to the clauses inserted into them. Now that Couture reportedly is back in the UFC fold, UFC will be able to breathe a big sigh of relief that none of the contractual provisions they make fighters sign (e.g. the retirement clause, the champion’s clause) will face a legal challenge any time soon.
One can scacrely think of a better summer for Zuffa than the summer of 2008. The stiffest of challenges was presented to them and slowly but surely, the UFC machine flexed its muscles to repel, kill or maim challengers. What they are accomplishing is truly amazing. They are not only the MMA promotional brand leader, they have also cemented themselves as the focal point of the sport. Those who have tried to wrestle power from Zuffa have at a minimum been halted and those who have challenged the UFC brand have failed or revealed themselves to be incapable of competing with the UFC over the long haul.
For a figure like Couture to return to the UFC – if the rumors are true – is a major victory for Zuffa. It’s the return of the Prodigal Son, but rather than the father killing a calf we find undercurrents of retribution. It’s a signal that the waters outside of the UFC are tepid at best and even being able to access them requires herculean efforts that neither Couture nor his legal/management team were able to accomplish. This is surely not Couture’s first choice, but because of what Zuffa was able to do as a promotion and a legal team, it appears to be Couture’s only choice outside of retirement from active competition.
In my mind, if the UFC announces today that Couture is returning and will fight Fedor (even with the M-1 co-promotion) if he defeats Brock Lesnar, then this is one of the most important days in Zuffa history. I would rank this close to the purchase of PRIDE as a watershed moment for the company because of what it portends for the UFC’s competition and for the UFC’s preeminence.
Note to the UFC’s competition: your days could very well be numbered.
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