The UFC held a conference call this afternoon with UFC 78 headliners Michael Bisping and Rashad Evans to promote Saturday's "Validation" pay-per-view (PPV) as well as address a variety of other hot topics.
Whether it's conservative optimism or grasping at straws, many in attendance took notice at the mention of contact between Randy Couture and UFC president Dana White.
According to White:
We officially offered (a title defense against top contender "Minotauro" Nogueira) and we haven't heard back yet. He texted me yesterday and said he wants to sit down and talk.
Interesting that Couture would be willing to have dialogue with the UFC after the recent smear campaign by both sides. While the rumor mill has Couture considering an offer from Mark Cuban to join the staff of HDNet Fights, a return to the company that he's recently dominated - even if it's just to fulfill the remaining fights on his contract - would be the happiest ending I can think of for all involved.
Then again that's probably just wishful thinking.
Also discussed were the lingering questions over Sean Sherk and his ongoing steroid appeal with the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). Contrary to recent reports, White does indicate that he will strip Sherk of the title if found guilty by the CSAC.
BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson are going to fight for the interim title. We'll see what happens with Sherk. If he's found guilty, we'll support the (CSAC) and he'll probably be stripped of his title. If not, he'll keep his title, and it'll be champion versus champion.
Hopefully we'll know the answer to that on December 4th when the CSAC (finally) rules on Sherk's appeal.
In regard to the genesis of Bisping versus Rashad, White stated he had little choice after Hamill got injured and Tito declined the fight because of injury (that White claims was an excuse to film "The Apprentice" for Donald Trump).
As far as upcoming events, the UFC plans to air its next Fight Night on January 23 and is looking to hold a PPV in Florida at some point in 2008. White is also starting to turn his efforts toward sanctioning in the state of New York.
MSG in 2009, anyone?
When asked about a potential deal with CBS, White was tight-lipped about any negotiations, but teased with big things on the horizon for 2008 and beyond.
A reconciliation with Randy Couture would certainly be a step in the right direction.