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5 Oz. takes a look at the heavyweight title picture
Five Ounces of Pain writer Sam Cupitt takes a look at the UFC's heavyweight title picture after the resignation of then champion Randy Couture. I believe that we'll see Big Nog wearing the belt at the beginning of 2008. Here's what Sam had to say over at 5 Oz.:
With the failed signing of Fedor and the letter of resignation from Couture, the UFC is now left with a Heavyweight Division that is going to have a very hard time supporting a champ as the legitimate No.1 in the world. In the coming months and the early part of next year there are a number of fighters who will stake a claim for the belt. Depending on who becomes champ, the UFC is going to have varying levels of difficulty when it comes to marketing them as the World's best. Let's examine the situation:
Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera
There is no denying "Minotauro" is a great Mixed Martial Artist and no doubt in the top 3, or at the least top 5 heavyweights in the world. However, if he were to beat Cheick Kongo and then the winner of Vera/Sylvia (or just, as been speculated) for the title, the UFC will have an extremely hard time selling him as the No.1 when Fedor has demolished him twice.
If Tim Sylvia manages to get past Vera and then Noguiera/Kongo the UFC is left with a champ who was never really popular to begin with and also has just been man-handled by a 44 year old legend, who many believe should still be fighting inside the octagon.
Non-UFC sources say that the contract Couture negotiated and signed before his comeback fight against Tim Sylvia in March is for four fights and between $13 million and $15 million, which puts him behind only Chuck Liddell, at four fights and $17 million, in the UFC salary pecking order. Those numbers are believed to include percentages of pay-per-view money.
I would take this at face value. Kevin Iole is a respected writer and has credible sources but this is a non-UFC source. The UFC has never before released figures of what people make and for good reason. If those figures were to get out to people the fighters may have more leverage at the negotiating table. Something I highly doubt the UFC or Dana White want to deal with. If this is brought up I'm sure they'll dismiss it as it isn't even coming from someone inside the UFC.
Here are two more interesting points about Randy's Retirement. Sam Caplan provided us with some insight earlier in the week with regards to this situation. Check out what Iole has to say:
Couture believes he can be a free agent after sitting out nine months, which would mean he figures he can fight Emelianenko sometime in late spring or early summer of 2008.
UFC president Dana White insists Couture must fight twice for the UFC to fulfill his contract and become a free agent
Kevin also went on to post about the future of the heavyweight division:
The winner of the Brandon Vera-Tim Sylvia fight on Saturday at UFC 77 in Cincinnati will meet Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the vacant heavyweight title sometime early next year.
Either winner to come out of Saturday nights UFC 77 fight will make a good opponent for Big Nog. Nogueira was the PRIDE heavyweight champion before Fedor came through and took the belt and has had it ever since. Nogueira is arguably one of the best BJJ practitioners in MMA. He also complements his ground game by working on his hands with the Cuban National boxing team. My prediction is we'll see Brandon Vera take on Nogueira, which will start the reign of Big Nog as the UFC Heavyweight champ.
Click here to read the rest of the mailbag from Kevin Iole.
Gary Herman of 15rounds.com has an interview with Brandon Vera available which talks about his issues with his management and what he expects out of the Tim Sylvia fight this coming Saturday at UFC 77. Brandon Vera didn't dodge any questions when it comes to the issues that have kept him out of the octagon for almost a year. "The Truth" last fought Frank Mir at UFC 65 this past November. Here's a little piece of what he had to say.
My ex-manager Mark Dionne was untruthful about some stuff with the UFC. He did not tell me everything the UFC saying. It made me not like the UFC for a time. It made me think the UFC did not care what I was doing. I felt disrespected, but none of what Dionne said was true. I ended up getting rid of (Dionne). I found out a lot of stuff Dionne did during arbitration. I got to tell him exactly how I felt without putting my hands on him and that was kind of cool. I felt relieved.
I'm really interested in seeing this fight. Will we see the same Brandon Vera? He hasn't been in the octagon in almost a year. He has said that he has been training the whole time but there's a big difference between training and fighting. He's been training with the current Light Heavyweight Champion Rampage Jackson at big bear with Juanito Ibarra. He is also a student of Lloyd Irvin who is one of the best Jiu Jitsu instructors in the country. Tim Sylvia is coming off a big loss to Randy Couture at UFC 68. He recently had back surgery and claims that he is 100% and ready to knock Brandon Vera out. It'll be interesting to see who shows up at these fights. The aggressive, intimidating Tim Sylvia, or the one that comes out to win but a decision. It'll also be interesting to see how Vera deals with the layoff, and we'll get to see if Vera is the real deal against a former champ in Tim Sylvia.