Earlier today UFC President Dana White held a conference call with various members of the media in order to discuss this weekend’s UFC 71 event. Many other topics were touched upon and just like our recap of the UFC 70 conference call, we’ve got everything covered…
White’s Thoughts on UFC 71’s main event: Chuck Liddell vs Quinton Jackson:
White came right out and said that he was very excited for the fight as is everyone. He said that the mentality of both fighters are going to make it an exciting fight. He said that Chuck’s striking is obviously going to give Jackson trouble but so will Jackson’s athletic ability for Liddell. White stated that style-wise, it’s a bad matchup for Liddell and that we were able to see that in the first fight between the two.
White pressed on the fact that Liddell has the opportunity in front of him to finally avenge every loss that he’s ever suffered. One of the most interesting things that White said was that Jackson usually “fights to the level of his competition”. He noted that Jackson beat Marvin Eastman but he did it in a fashion that nobody was really impressed by. White said that because Liddell is such a high-caliber fighter, Jackson’s game will be on that same level and he will look much better in this fight then when he fought Eastman at UFC 67.
White briefly touched on Liddell’s controversial segment on Good Morning Dallas a few months back where he appeared to be under the influence of something. White attributed Liddell’s state to the lifestyle that he lives due to being famous. White said that he and other UFC officials promptly took care of the matter when it arose and that everything is fine now concerning that situtation.
White Discusses Potential Signing of Mauricio Rua; Possible Addition of Wanderlei Silva:
It’s been rumored for about a week now that the UFC has signed Mauricio Rua. Well White went ahead and all but confirmed that Rua will be part of the UFC when he said that the winner of Saturday night’s Liddell-Jackson bout will then have to face a challenger that the UFC is bringing in. White also said that the challenger will be revealed during the UFC 71 broadcast.
When asked who that challenger could be, White said that it could be one of two people - Mauricio Rua and Wanderlei Silva. However White then talked into detail about Rua and how he will most likely be fighting Liddell within the next year, all but confirming that the UFC has come to terms with him. White also made the surprising announcement that the UFC “has to bring in Wanderlei Silva”. White said that the winner of Saturday’s fight could also possibly be facing Silva in their next fight as well.
White Gives an Update on PRIDE Sale:
The whole PRIDE ordeal was definitely the most asked question during the conference call but it was also the one topic that White couldn’t really give any definitive answers to. White blamed the reason behind his lack of a definite answer on his busy travel schedule - That doesn’t make any sense, I know but he said it. White assured everyone that the fans would still be able to see the marquee matchups between fighters of both organizations at some point this year.
White Talks Huerta Sports Illustrated Cover, Sanchez’s Thoughts on Retirement, Vera’s Status, and St.Pierre-Koscheck at UFC 74:
White praised Roger Huerta for making the cover of Sports Illustrated and went on to talk about how the sport of MMA is finally becoming mainstream and achieving the dream that White and the Fertitta Brothers had for it. He also made a mention of Chuck Liddell’s appearance on the cover of ESPN the Magazine.
The most shocking thing that was discussed during the press conference was White’s confession that Diego Sanchez nearly announced his retirement one day before UFC 69 because doctor’s thought that he had contracted Hepatitis C. Doctors ran multiple tests on Sanchez after that and they kept on coming up negative so they then ruled that he in fact did not have Hepatitis C and the test where he tested positive was faulty. According to White, the doctors still thought that something was wrong with Sanchez, but because they couldn’t figure it out, they let him fight anyway. The next day, Sanchez was diagnosed with a staph infection after an enormous hole developed on his leg.
White assured everyone that Brandon Vera was still with the company and will remain with the company for a long time to come. Vera is currently figuring out personal matters between him and his former manager before he starts actively fighting again. White stated that the winner of the fight between Josh Koscheck and Georges St. Pierre at UFC 74 would get the winner of the Matt Serra-Matt Hughes welterweight title bout at some point in the winter.
White Bashes the NJSAC, K-1, IFL, and Tito Ortiz:
White openly bashed the New Jersey State Athletic Commission for deciding to sanction the upcoming June bout between underground fighting legend Kimbo Slice and former heavyweight champion Ray Mercer. Despite the criticism, White mentioned that the UFC would most likely be returning to the state later this year. K-1 got just as much of White’s wrath for the strong possibility that their Dynamite!! USA show scheduled for June 2nd may be cancelled. White said that the promotion was insane for thinking that could fill up the Los Angeles Coliseum when in fact they have trouble filling up small ballrooms in Las Vegas for their kickboxing tournaments.
White’s bashing of the IFL and Tito Ortiz was pretty much the same as always: The IFL is “retarded” and Ortiz is a baby…
UFC President Dana White and heavyweight title contender Mirko Cro Cop held a conference call with the media earlier today discussing this weekend’s event. Many topics were covered over the hour session including Cro Cop’s thoughts on Gabriel Gonzaga, the immediate plans for PRIDE’s future, the contract status of Mauricio Rua and Fedor Emelianenko, and much more.
Let’s just say that we have everything covered. Read and enjoy…
Cro Cop’s Thoughts on Gabriel Gonzaga:
Cro Cop was very straight forward in answering questions about Gonzaga. He stated that Gonzaga will not have an answer for everything that Cro Cop is going to bring to the Octagon on Saturday. He said that he is at full health for this weekend. He will not being using PRIDE’s theme music when he walks to the Octagon. Instead he will use his usual “Wild Boyz” song.
Cro Cop also said that he isn’t worried about Gonzaga’s ground skills and that it is his all-around game that presents the biggest problems matchup-wise:
“I have trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a lot, have experts in my gym. I feel comfortable even on the ground. I am aware he is a jiu-jitsu world champion, but I am pretty versed in ground fighting now. Of course my basis is stand up, but even if we go to the ground, I am not scared.
Gonzaga is a solid, good fighter. He is a tough guy. He won’t hesitate to fight toe to toe. He is a first class fighter. I will try to keep it in a stand up position. I don’t want to underestimate him” stated Cro Cop.
Cro Cop on Couture, Liddell, Fedor, and Big Nog:
Cro Cop said that he would love for to have a rematch with Fedor Emelianenko in the near future but he is currently focused on his fight with Gonzaga and then winning the UFC Heavyweight Title before that can happen. He said that Randy Couture’s age will not be a factor if and when they fight because he has already shown that it hasn’t been a factor in past fights. He stated that while he doesn’t have any preference on his opponents in the UFC, he has a feeling that he will be fighting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira very soon.
Cro Cop also made it known that he will be unable to cut enough weight to make it down to the 205 lb weight class, meaning that if a dream match with Chuck Liddell is to happen, that Liddell will have to come up to heavyweight and fight…
“I have no space to go down, maybe if I chop off my hand or something. I definitely can’t go down” said Cro Cop.
Dana White on Big Nog, Fedor, Wanderlei Silva, Sakuraba, and Liddell:
White stated that Nogueira was signed by the UFC as a free agent and that talks began about a month ago. He also stated that there is currently no timetable for his first fight nor any ideas on who his first opponent may be.
White said that at the time he originally made that Wanderlei Silva-Chuck Liddell announcement for UFC 65, it was going to be the biggest fight in MMA history. He now says that it isn’t the case until Silva wins a few more fights to make up for his KO losses to Cro Cop and Dan Henderson. Silva currently has four fights left on his six fight contract to do so.
According to White, the UFC is currently trying to figure out the status of Fedor. Fedor’s contract isn’t exclusive to PRIDE and that Zuffa and PRIDE FC Worldwide will not accept non-exclusive contracts for their fighters. White did say however that Fedor is under contract to the company and that if another rival promotion tried to sign him, he would slap them with an injunction immediately.
Despite the heavy rumors that Mauricio Rua has signed a contract that will allow him two fights in PRIDE and two fights in the UFC, White says that the rumors are not true. Also Kazushi Sakuraba is not under contract with PRIDE and White isn’t aware of the reasoning behind him being brought out to address the crowd during PRIDE 34.
White Talks About Changes to PRIDE and the Lightweight Grand-Prix:
White has confirmed once again that PRIDE will be changing to the unified rules of mixed martial arts (the rule set that the UFC uses) as well as the same round structures and weight classes. PRIDE will continue to use a ring instead of a cage. Also fight cards will be announced weeks in advance of an event, just like the UFC does now. Does everyone recall the PRIDE 34 mess?
PRIDE will not have a super heavyweight division and the crazy matchups the promotion used to hold including Butterbean, Giant Silva, and Bob Sapp will not take place anymore. White stated that all employees currently with PRIDE will keep their jobs with the exception of Gary Millen and Frank Trigg. They have been fired and will be replaced with a completely new announce team.
White said that it is still undecided in terms of whether or not the Lightweight Grand-Prix will take place at 155 lbs or 170 lbs. White denied all rumors about Diego Sanchez and Matt Hughes taking place in the tourney as there will not be any UFC fighters participating:
“There will be no UFC fighters in the tournament. The UFC and PRIDE are completely separate companies. You won’t see UFC vs PRIDE until we do the big event” said White.
White Discusses UFC’s status with HBO and ESPN:
The UFC will debut on HBO as soon as this summer according to White. The deal actually isn’t complete but is in the final stages of being finalized. White didn’t say much about things but did mention that the HBO will be doing their own production and announcing of events rather than having the UFC do things along with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. White said that it wasn’t easy for him to agree to that…
The UFC will still broadcast shows on HBO, Spike TV, and PPV. Spike TV will be made up mostly of guys from The Ultimate Fighter television shows. Shows on HBO will be mixture of TUF guys, international stars, and other UFC fighters. PPV shows would then have the best of the best.
ESPN will now be covering the UFC on a regular basis according to White. The coverage will include both weigh-in and fight results…
White Talks About Possible UFC Fights and Events in the Near Future:
White said that UFC 72 will either be on PPV or Spike TV. He mentioned Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta, and Philadelphia all as possible sites that may hold future UFC events. Florida will also hold another UFC event in the near future according to White.
White said that the “Inside the UFC” TV show wasn’t scrapped and that the company is currently working on a date to bring the show back to the air.
White announced a slew of possible matchups - If Andrei Arlovski defeats Fabricio Werdum on Saturday, he will most likely fight the winner of Mirko Cro Cop and Randy Couture should Cro Cop get poast Gabriel Gonzaga as well. Sean Sherk will defend his lightweight title in Sacramento, California against Hermes Franca. Tito Ortiz vs Rashad Evans and Anderson Silva vs Nate Marquardt will also take place on that card. Georges St. Pierre will most likely be fighting next in August against an opponent that has yet to be determined…
White on Tito Ortiz:
White’s comments were short and sweet when asked about the current situation between himself and Tito Ortiz:
“Tito is living in a fucking bubble right now” said White “You saw what happened. I showed up and he didn’t. He’s not afraid of me, but he has people around him telling him it was a bad idea. He is out there making himself look like a jackass. He should shut his mouth and worry about Rashad Evans.”
PRIDE and UFC veteran Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg made his debut on Tagg Radio this past week. Trigg told listeners he had no new information on the Fertitta’s purchase of PRIDE but he did state that his services are no longer being rendered.
“All I know is there is a gentleman there by the name of Jamie who is supposively going to be the new president. Works for the UFC currently right now and he is getting ready to move his wife and family over there and that’s all I know. I didn’t get spoken to by anybody, ah nobody else was there from the powers that be so I don’t know what’s going on. As of right now to my knowledge I believe my services are no longer being rendered.”
Trigg also said he is still looking to fight but he isn’t currently under contract with any organization. His fight against Robbie Lawler was the last on his Icon Sport contract and his PRIDE contract was only a one-fight deal.
So as of right now, Frank Trigg’s future with PRIDE is in limbo but we should know more come May 1st.
PRIDE Worldwide owner, Lorenzo Fertitta, has stated he has plans to build a museum establishment along with gyms and sports bars. Apparently the museum will be built in Tokyo and it will include a section commemorating PRIDE’s past and present champions.
In the face of Headquarters Chief Takeda, the darkness completely it was not. On the contrary beginning and ending, “PRIDE museum” establishment plan was revealed with bright expression. With idea ??????it is the owner of the American comprehensive case competition group UFC, as for Headquarters Chief Takeda “in the vague place, it is the intention which is established in city center such as thought and Roppongi which is not the intention of making”. The museum the sport bar which lets flow the treasure goods exhibition and past tournament image of the successive ace, putting in place the actual ring, becomes the synthesis facility e.g., it can do also release practice and the fitness.
Dream Stage Entertainment has issued a press release announcing the postponement of the opening round of the PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix.
“As we’re in the midst of transferring business assets between both companies, we have decided that only one month to prepare for the 5/20 event is not enough time to organize the production and promote the event in a manner that reflect our first PRIDE event for the fans”
A new date for the PRIDE LW GP will be announced at another time.
After purchasing PRIDE Fighting Championship, Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White, and former owner Nobuyuki Sakakibara fielded questions from the press concerning the future of PRIDE, the rules and more.
Question: Can you explain what will Pride and the UFC look like after this?
Dana White: They are going to be completely separated. The UFC will run separately from Pride. Most of the employees are still in place at Pride and we are going to continue to run them as competitors and two separate entities.
Question: But there will be mega-fights and fighters and champions (from the UFC and Pride) going against each other at some point?
White: That’s what we are talking about. Obviously, there is a lot that needs to be worked out. What we would like to see, finally, is the Super Bowl of mixed martial arts where we could, finally, line up all the guys in all the different weight classes to fight each other and see who the best in the world is. We’d do that once a year. We don’t know exactly how that will be done, yet. But that’s what we are thinking about doing.
The full transcript can be found at ocregister.com.
From the PrideFC website...
Dream Clash between PRIDE and UFC! Steps Finally Taken Towards MMA Version of the World Series As DSE CEO Sakakibara Resigns; New PRIDE Owner Lorenzo Fertitta Takes Office
On Tuesday, March 27th, at the Roppongi Hills Arena in Tokyo, PRIDE Executive Director Nobuhiko Takada and UFC President Dana White appeared together to announce that the two largest MMA organizations in the world, America’s UFC and Japan’s PRIDE FC, will finally come to blows.
Since the dawn of the sport, PRIDE FC and the UFC have continued to be the driving forces behind mixed martial arts. Under the new leadership of PRIDE owner Lorenzo Fertitta, the MMA world is one step closer to determining who truly is the world’s toughest man. This momentous event will similarly resemble baseball’s World Series, soccer’s World Cup, and football’s Super Bowl.
In addition, DSE President and CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced that his resignation from PRIDE FC will take place immediately after PRIDE.34, scheduled to take place April 8th at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Lorenzo Fertitta will assume Mr. Sakakibara’s responsibilities as PRIDE’s new owner.
If you haven’t already heard, PRIDE is planning to hold a press conference later today in Tokyo concerning a huge announcement involving the company.
Various Japanese media outlets such as Sports Hochi, Nikkan Sports, and Fight! Miruhon are stating at least something concerning a merger/buyout/new company forming between the UFC, PRIDE, Zuffa, and the Fertitta Brothers as well as other potential clients.
The press conference is said to be happening between 5-6 PM Tokyo time. That would mean 4-5 AM EST. You may think Scott and I are insane but we are going to stay up and live blog any news as soon as we receive it regarding the details of the press conference.
MMAWeekly is reporting that Fertittas brothers have purchased PRIDE Fighting Championship.
According to the article the Fertittas will start a new company under which PRIDE will operate. This means DSE (Dream Stage Entertainment) will no longer have any ties to the organization. Current PRIDE/DSE president Nobuyuki Sakikabara is also expected to step down from his position.
The new company also means that PRIDE will be run as a separate entity to the UFC with the two organizations coming together once a year to put on a super show.
PRIDE 34: Kamikaze is expected to be the last show run under the current ownership…
There will be a press conference held in Tokyo, Japan at the Roppongi Hills Arena on Tuesday 3/27.
News and Notes
- If you didn’t see it already, Bill informed us yesterday via Bill Meltzer that Nobuyuki Sakakibara told several staff members of PRIDE USA that the company was in the process of being sold to Lorenzo & Frank Fertitta.
- K-1 and Elite XC parent company Pro Elite will work together to present K-1’s first MMA event in the US - DYNAMITE!! USA - on July 7th at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the home of the USC college football team. The fighters currently heavily rumored to be participating at the event are Royce Gracie, former pro wrestling superstar Brock Lesnar, and Hong Man Choi. A press conference will be held next week to discuss the event.
- Claude Patrick, the primary welterweight for the IFL’s Toronto Dragons will miss the remainder of the league’s season with a torn ACL and meniscus. Patrick will undergo surgery to repair the injuries on April 13th.