by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
LAS VEGAS – Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White on Saturday night confirmed that Tim Sylvia will meet Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81 on Feb. 2 for the interim heavyweight championship.
“(Sylvia) will fight Nogueira for the interim title … Super Bowl (weekend),” said White.
Although it is likely that the offer is now part of the legal maneuvering between the UFC and current heavyweight champion Randy Couture, White also indicated that the winner between Sylvia and Nogueira would challenge Couture for his belt.
Whether Couture accepts or not, of course, is another matter entirely. The embattled champion has publicly stated that he is waiting out his current contract.
“I am not retired,” he said at the HDNet Fights show in Dallas, Texas. “I am waiting for my UFC contract to expire. I will fight Fedor Emelianenko.”
White is well aware that it isn’t as simple as crowning an interim champion and putting him in the Octagon with a reluctant couture.
“This is in the hands of the lawyers now. We gave him a half-million dollar signing bonus to fight four fights for us,” he stated. “I think the honorable thing for him to do is to honor his contract and fight the winner of Nogueira/Sylvia.”
How this all plays out between Couture and the UFC remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, the fight between Sylvia and Nogueira will take place at the Mandalay Bay Event Center on Super Bowl weekend.