L.A. Confidential: Couture, Fedor Meet

By Brian Knapp Aug 12, 2008
Randy Couture (Pictures) and Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures), along with their respective management teams, met in Los Angeles on Monday, according to a source familiar with both mixed martial arts legends. The source declined to reveal what was discussed between the two sides.

Couture, Emelianenko, and their representatives spent “significant” time together, as they met for breakfast and dinner, the source said. They were also involved in a photo shoot together, reports the source. While speculation around a future fight promoted by Affliction seems certain to swirl, the source indicated the upstart promotion was not behind the aforementioned shoot.

Couture’s representatives declined to comment on the matter, while Emelianenko’s handlers could not be immediately reached.

Monday’s meetings marked the second time the iconic pair have congregated in recent weeks. On July 19, the stoic Russian exchanged pleasantries with the equally amiable Couture inside the Affliction ring, re-igniting hopes the two top-ranked fighters might clash in what has already been billed as the sport's greatest blockbuster offering ever.

Couture and Emelianenko have both voiced their wish to face one another competitively in 2008 or early 2009, though the potential bout has stalled due to legal issues surrounding Couture’s promotional contract with the UFC.

The 45-year-old Couture (16-8) walked away from the UFC last October when the promotion failed to sign the world’s most costly free agent into their stable. Couture has since been embroiled in a legal standoff with UFC parent company, Zuffa LLC, which contends their renegade heavyweight champion still owes them two fights. The five-time UFC champion believes his contract expired on July 19.

Couture has not stepped back into the Octagon since his third-round pummeling of Gabriel Gonzaga (Pictures) at UFC 74 last August.

Emelianenko (28-1), meanwhile, has rattled off nine consecutive victories -- a streak highlighted by his 36-second rout of two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (Pictures) at Affliction “Banned” on July 19.

Zuffa will almost certainly move to block any potential match pairing Couture with Emelianenko, though a fight between them could still conceivably take place inside the UFC’s hallowed Octagon.

Signed in December 2006, Couture’s employment contract could come into play again if he were to attempt to organize a bout with Emelianenko. Zuffa already filed for breach of contract against the UFC Hall-of-Famer on Jan. 14 in Nevada, claiming he had violated a one-year non-compete clause in his employment contract by promoting non-UFC events. Couture’s employment agreement, which hired the then-retired heavyweight for commentary and promotional appearances, expires on Oct. 10.

In a separate legal matter, Zuffa LLC emerged victorious from a Dallas appeals court on Aug. 1, as it was granted a stay against a motion for summary judgment filed by Mark Cuban’s HDNet Fights on Feb. 13. Cuban, the outspoken renegade owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, requested the Texas court decide when Couture would become eligible to sign with his rival promotion. He, too, has shown interest in promoting a match between Couture and Emelianenko.

The court entertained only written arguments from both sides. The Aug. 1 judgment effectively stopped Couture’s case from unfolding in Texas, though Cuban figures to appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court.

Focus has since shifted back to Las Vegas, where behind-closed-doors arbitration hearings between Couture and Zuffa are already under way, per Couture’s fight agreement. The four-time Olympic alternate was deposed for the case in July, along with UFC President Dana White. More individuals are expected to join the process in the coming weeks.
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