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UFC 70 Conference Call Reveals LWGP as PRIDE Exclusive, ESPN and HBO Updates, and More

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.”

CKA: Feb 01, 2007

News and Notes

- The Fight Network will be televising the EliteXC debut show live at 10 PM EST on February 10th.

- UFC and PRIDE veteran Kevin “The Monster” Randleman has been released from the hospital after he suffered near kidney failure.

- Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Alistair Overeem will face off in the ring PRIDE 33: Second Coming.

- Canadian welterweight Jeff Joslin is scheduled to face Kuniyoshi Hironaka on April 5th live on Spike TV.

- Tonight on ‘Inside the UFC’, Joe Rogan will sit down and talk to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and his opponent Travis Lutter.

- Be sure to check out our newly created rumors page. We’ve updated the PRIDE 33 card with Overeem vs. Rua.

- Sherdog has announced that they will be going live 3 days a week starting February 12th. The show will run from 1PM - 5PM EST with 2 hour episodes of ‘The Beatdown’ and ‘The Savage Dog Show’. The show will also have updates at the top of every hour. For the users who cannot listen live, there will still be a podcast available through iTunes.

- Elvis Sinosic has signed a new deal with the UFC and it looks like his next fight will be in April. It also looks like Gonzaga will be fighting on one of the UFC cards in April.

Recommended Reads

UFC: Roger Huerta - Saving Nothing for the Swim Back
UFC: Will Cro Cop and Rampage live up to the hype?
UFC: Lyoto Machida - In the Blood
OC Register: UFC 67 Preview

Herring Hindered By Injury

Last night fans witnessed PRIDE and K-1 veteran Heath “Texas Crazy Horse” Herring make his UFC debut against undefeated Jake O’Brien. To the surprise of many, O’Brien walked through Herring taking him down at passing his guard at will. The fighter who made his first appearance in the UFC octagon looked nothing like the fighter who underwent battles with the likes of Mirko Filipovic, Fedor Emelianenko, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Well there is now an explanation for the reason thing went down the way they did.

After the fight Heath Herring ran into UFC color commentator Joe Rogan where he proceeded to tell him that he tore his MCL during training which had a big effect on his performance. Herring came out with the weird stance due to his injured knee and it had a huge effect on him as he could not sprawl and when he was on his back as he was unable to explode out of tough positions.

CKA: Jan 25, 2007

News and Notes

- Chris Price failed to make 185 lbs for his fight against Ed Herman as he weighed in at 192 lbs. Herman decided to take the fight even though his opponent could make weight.

- Here is a rundown of what will be on ‘Inside the UFC’ tomorrow night.

* The UFC’s newest addition Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will go one-on-one with host Joe Rogan.
* There will be a feature on the nerves fighters experience before a fight.
* They will take a look at the art of tattoos and their significance to UFC fighters.

- Melvin Guillard has pulled out of his fight at UFC 67 and his replacement will be Diego Saraiva.

- UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture will appear on season two of “Pros vs. Joes” at 10:00 PM ET/PT.

Recommended Reads

MMA on Tap: UFC Fight Night 8 Preview
UFC: Rashad Evans - The Big Finish
UFC: Nate Marquardt – A Former King Searches for a New Crown

CKA: Jan 17, 2007

News and Notes

- UFCmania is reporting that John Halverson will make his octagon debut against Roger Huerta. Also on the card will be Terry Martin versus Jorge Rivera.

- Yoshihiro Akiyama has been suspended indefinitely by K-1 after he was caught using an oil-based substance in his fight against Kazushi Sakuraba.

- Here is what will be on ‘Inside the UFC’ this Thursday…

Rogan will sit down with UFC light heavyweight contender Rashad Evans.
He’ll talk to Randy Couture about Pros vs. Joes.
Fans will get to take a look at the UFC’s newest ring girl, Ali Sonoma.

Recommended Reads

The Fight Network: Hansen Eyes America
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Couture Coming Back
LA Times: Couture Will Face Sylvia in Return to Competition

Couture’s Big Announcement

Be sure to tune into ‘Inside the UFC’ on Thursday night as Randy “The Natural” Couture will be interviewed and he has a big announcement to make.

To the loyal readers, feel free to leave comments on what you think the announcement might be. Personally, I have a feeling “The Natural” will be coming out of retirement to fight Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 68 in Ohio.

UFC Update: St. Pierre, Cro Cop, Rampage, Franca

UFC President Dana White has stated that UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre may be fighting Diego Sanchez April 7th in Montreal for the welterweight title. It was originally thought that St. Pierre would rematch Matt Hughes but it’s now up in the air.

It is all but confirmed that PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix champion Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has signed with the UFC. Look for an announcement to come soon, possibly on the December 30th show.

On the most recent edition of ‘Inside the UFC’, lightweights Jens Pulver and B.J. Penn were introduced as the coaches for season 5 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and also Joe Rogan announced that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson would be fighting in the UFC in 2007.

It has been confirmed that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s first fight in the UFC will come against UFC and PRIDE veteran Marvin Eastman at UFC 67. This fight was originally scheduled to take place on WFA: King of the Streets II but the fight was cancelled and shortly after the Zuffa LLC purchased the organization.

Randy Couture’s name has reemerged in the media as he stated that if Tito Ortiz beats Chuck Liddell at UFC 66, he’ll come out of retirement to fight Ortiz. “If Tito finds a way to beat Chuck, I’m going to have to come out of retirement and give Tito a whack.”

InsideFighting.com sat down with UFC lightweight Hermes Franca and he stated that he signed a new four fight deal with the UFC and his next fight would be January 25th at the Hard Rock in Miami, Florida.

Be sure to tune into Spike TV Thursday, December 28th, as they will be airing UFC 66: Countdown to Liddell vs. Ortiz II, All Access with Chuck Liddell and of course Inside the UFC with Joe Rogan. That will be followed by Live and Inside at 10 PM on Friday.

Finally remember to tune in live on December 30th at 10 PM EST as I’ll be doing one of our patented ‘Live Blogs’.

Inside the UFC Preview

Be sure to tune into Spike TV tonight at 12 AM EST as they’ll be going live with another edition of “Inside the UFC” hosted by Joe Rogan.

Here is what will be on the show tonight:

- The show may include a special announcement regarding a 2007 addition to the UFC roster.

- A preview UFC All Access with Chuck Liddell.

- The show will follow light heavyweight James Irvin as he makes him homecoming at UFC 65 in Sacramento.

- Introduction to the two coaches (Jens Pulver & B.J. Penn) of ‘The Ultimate Fighter 5’

- They will also show how the UFC is giving back this holiday season.

Inside the UFC Premieres Tonight

Be sure to tune into Spike TV tonight at 12 AM EST as the UFC’s newest weekly series “Inside the UFC” will premiere.
The show will be a weekly half-hour magazine-style series that will feature interviews, up-to-the minute UFC news and much more.

The first episode will include an exclusive interview with UFC President Dana White as well as one on one interviews with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and his next opponent Matt Serra. Also the first episode will include an in-depth look at the UFC Octagon Girls.

No Joe Rogan for UFC 61

UFC color-commentator Joe Rogan will not be part of the broadcast team for UFC 61: “Bitter Rivals” due to a prior commitment to The Comedy Connection in Boston, which he was unable to cancel. Rogan stated that he would be at both of the Spike TV cards in June and hopefully the rest of the pay per views after that.

Randy Couture who is now a permanent fixture on the UFC broadcast team will be filling in for Joe Rogan.

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