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Wednesday, Aug 15, 2001

Couture, Zuffa Agree To Three-fight Contract

Couture, Zuffa Agree to Three-Fight Contract
Couture-Rizzo II scheduled for UFC 34 on November 2, 2001
By Aaron Crecy

Frank Fertitta, Dana White, Randy Couture and Lorenzo Fertitta after Couture's win over Rizzo
After two months of often tense, exhausting negotiations, Zuffa LLC has signed reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Randy Couture to a new three-fight contract. It’s an agreement that sets the stage for a re-match of what was perhaps the most compelling fight in UFC history, an action-packed, see-saw affair in May 2001, when Couture defeated feared Brazilian striker Pedro Rizzo in an epic, five-round battle.

"I’m ecstatic that we signed Randy Couture to a long-term deal," exclaimed UFC president Dana White. "We’re glad we got it done and we are more than happy to have him back in the UFC."

The deal was hammered out on August 15, the UFC’s self-imposed deadline. Sources say that the organization threatened to strip Couture of his heavyweight belt had he not agreed to a new contract by that day. Ironically, it would have marked the second time in his career that Couture was forced to forfeit the title.

"I’m happy to have the contract done and out of the way," said a relieved Couture. "It’s been a long two months of up and down negotiations, and it was hard for both parties."

The extent to which the UFC could use Couture’s name and image for marketing and promotional purposes was a major source of contention during negotiations. While Couture was willing to be included in the organization’s branding campaign and new video game, he did not want to provide the UFC with unlimited use of his name and image without appropriate compensation. However, sources report that the UFC has chosen to exclude Couture from both ventures.

Couture, 38, is a two-time UFC belt-winner with an overall record of 9 – 2. He is undefeated in five appearances within the confines of the Octagon. After stunning the mixed martial arts world with a brilliantly game-planned and executed technical knockout of Vitor Belfort at UFC 15 in October 1997, Couture earned the heavyweight belt just two months later when he defeated Maurice Smith by judges’ decision in UFC Japan. However, the UFC stripped Couture of his title shortly thereafter when contract negotiations stalled.

Exactly three years and one month after winning his first UFC crown, Couture delivered yet another shocking performance, this time wresting the heavyweight championship from Kevin Randleman by virtue of a third round TKO. Couture successfully defended his title in May 2001, gutting out a hard-earned judges’ decision over Rizzo.

Now, Couture and Rizzo are scheduled to face each other for a second time on November 2, 2001 in the main event at UFC 34. "I don’t expect it to be the same fight as last time," assured Couture, who fatigued considerably in the second round. "I’ll be ready to fight and both Pedro and I will be prepared to put a good show."

From the event’s promoter, Christopher Cordeiro:

Fight Results from Battlejax Aug. 11th, 2001:

Main Events:

Garret Coonz (Team Piranha/Venice FL) def. Jeff Meyers (Peacocks Academy/Jacksonville FL) by Arm-bar – 2:30, 1st rd.
This was the most exciting fight of the night. The crowd favorite Jeff Meyers displayed his incredible fury once again in the ring. He bloodied and battered Garret Coonz with brutal punches. Meyers actually knocked Coonz out with one shot and then revived him with another before he hit the ground. Coonz who looked to be totally out of the fight surprised everyone cinching in a tight arm bar that forced Meyers to tap.

Marcos Santos (Kimura Fight Gear-HighPerformance/Lakeland FL) Def. Adam Coppenhaver (USA Martial Arts/ Ocala FL) by Arm-bar at 2:52, 1st rd.
The Brazilian sensation who is now making his home in Lakeland Florida where he trains under Ross Kellin, improved his record to 2-0 as he looks to make an impression on the NHB community. Santos opened the fight with a huge take down and dominated the entire time ending the fight with an arm-bar.

Undercard bouts:

Jorge Beauchat (Kimura Fight Gear-HighPerformance/Lakeland FL) Def. Jerry Gummo (McCullough Submission Fighting / Hilton Head SC) by Judges decision at the end of 3 rounds.

David Baggett (Kimura Fight Gear-HighPerformance/Lakeland FL) Def. Joe Lane (Jacksonville FL) by Rear naked choke at 2:34, 2nd rd.

Lionel Cortez (Obake Fight School/Atlanta) Def. Chris Jellison (St. Mary’s GA) by punches from the mount at 2:37, 1st rd.

Mike Lee (F-2 Arena/Gainesville FL) Def. Ray Young (Casselberry FL) by Arm-bar at :45, 1st rd.

Steve Dunn (Peacock’s Academy/Jacksonville FL) Def. Chris Rice (Dongjak/Jacksonville FL) by Hammer-lock at 1:26, 1st rd.

Ryan Hodge (F-2 Arena/Gainesville FL) Def. Josh Rutgers (Obake Fight School/ Jacksonville FL) by Arm-bar at 1:38, 1st rd.

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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