What’s happening in the world of mixed martial arts now…
By Loretta Hunt
UFC heavyweight Justin McCully has been offered a bout with Frenchman Cheick Kongo at UFC 81 “Breaking Point” on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, The Fight Network has confirmed with McCully’s camp. Currently overseas on a goodwill United Service Organizations tour in Iraq with fellow Team Punishment member Tito Ortiz, the 31-year-old has neither accepted nor turned down the bout, though his answer is expected Wednesday. If he accepts, McCully (8-3-2) would have six weeks to train for the contendership bout.
McCully earned a unanimous decision over Antoni Hardonk (4-3) at UFC Fight night 10 on April 5 in Las Vegas. Kongo (10-3-1) is riding high after a key victory over Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (22-6-2) at UFC 75 this past September in London.
The proposed match-up quells talk that Kongo might face Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81. Meanwhile, former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia is preparing for the Feb. 2 title bout with Nogueira. The bout will be for the vacant UFC heavyweight championship, according to Sylvia’s manager, Monte Cox.
“Tim signed the contract, and we haven’t heard anything else about it -- if Nogueira has signed his contract or what,” said Cox. Cox indicated Sylvia has already begun his training camp for the championship bout.
Randy Couture (16-8) resigned from the UFC on Oct. 11, rescinding the heavyweight crown, two contracted fights and a separate services contract that included a commentator/ambassador role with the organization. The UFC has not recognized Couture’s resignation from the promotion and offered the Hall-of-Famer a title defense against Nogueira at UFC 81. Couture turned down the bout. Attorneys for Couture and Zuffa LLC, parent company to the UFC, continue to discuss the fighter’s two standing contracts with the organization behind closed doors.
On a HDNet Fight’s broadcast Dec. 15, Couture said he intended to wait out his two contracts with the UFC, the last of which ends in October 2008. Couture intends to fight former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko (25-1) after that time.