HDNet Fights hosted a conference call earlier this afternoon to promote their new venture into the world of mixed martial arts as well as their inaugural event which will take place on October 13th at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. HDNet Fights officials eatured on the call were HDNet owner Mark Cuban and UFC and PRIDE veteran Guy Mezger. The fighters participating were Erik Paulson, Jeff Ford, Justin Eilers, Jason House, and Freddie Espiricueta.
Cuban Discusses New Venture, Thoughts on Fighters, Talks with Other Promotions
Mark Cuban started off the call and seemed very excited about this whole thing starting up. He immediately gave Dana White and the UFC credit for the opportunity to explore this kind of venture. He said that he plans to treat fighters how they should be treated - like professional athletes. He stated that he plans to create an organization that will be able to sign big-name fighters. He said that an MMA event is about how big the ring girl’s breasts are but the fights and the fighters themselves.
He wants his promotion to be unique and he wants to give the fighters stability, he doesn’t want them to have to worry where their next fight is going to take place. All fighters will be signed to non-exclusive contracts according to Cuban, meaning that they will be free to compete in any organization they please. He wants fighters to be able to take advantage of career opportunities in order to better themselves.
Cuban stated that he would not object to holding an HDNet Fights sponsored event in another promotion or on another channel besides HD Net. He said that he has been in discussions with Kurt Otto and the IFL concerning a possible working parntership. He wants to be able to brand fighters because that will in turn brand the promotion. He has also had talks recently with Vince McMahon and family concerning a partnership with WWE.
Mezger Discusses Organization’s Goals and Matchups
Guy Mezger was very candid during his time to talk. He stated that he wants HDNet Fights to be talent and fighter driven and not driven by the success of the organization by itself. He said that he wants to be able to create a new market for the fighters, an alternative to what is currently out there right now. He said that he is very excited for the opportunity to work with Cuban and that he will be sure to make the best of it.
Mezger went on to discuss the Erik Paulson-Jeff Ford main event for October 13th. He said he is very excited for the fight and that it definitely be entertaining. He said that both are excellent strikers, especially Ford who was a very successful American kickboxer. He also promoted Paulson as one of the top trainers in MMA today and one of the founders of the sport as well.
Mezger announced the following fights for October 13th: Erik Paulson vs Jeff Ford, Justin Eilers vs Justin Howard, Freddie Espiricueta vs Jason House, T.J. Walberger vs Anthony Lapsley, Pete Spratt vs Sam Morgan, Sean Salmon vs Leopoldo Serao, Ivan Jorge vs Liam McCarty, and former Dallas Cowboy Sunia Filikitonga vs Joel Traves.
Paulson and Ford Discuss Their Bout
Both Erik Paulson and Jeff Ford were on the call to discuss their upcoming bout. Paulson started off by saying that he was very excited to be coming out of retirement for this fight. He said that he was getting beaten up while training his fighters for their fights so why not get paid for it by fighting himself. He said that having Cuban as a promoter is very important to him. He said that he and Ford have clashing styles and it’s going to make for an exciting fight. Paulson said he is a very well-rounded fighter.
He went on talk to about the reasoning behind this fight being at light heavyweight instead of middleweight where he fought throughout his career. Paulson said that after he retired he sustained an injury that had him out of action for several months and during this time he put on a lot of weight. He said that at one point he got up to 240 lbs but it worked out since the majority of fighters he was training were heavyweights. He said that he will have his cardio back to a good level before the fight. He said that he will be training with Renato Sobral, Josh Barnett, and Justin Levens for this fight as well as all of the fighters that train at his gym and that he will be improving his BJJ with Anderson Machado.
Ford didn’t really have a lot of questions thrown his way. He stated that he was really looking forward to the fight and that he was excited to fight Paulson. He said that he will definitely be training on the ground for the fight being that Paulson is an excellent grappler.
Eilers Discusses Fight Against Howard, Leaving Miletich Fighting Systems
Justin Eilers was definitely the most entertaining fighter on the call. He said that he was excited to be both part of the promotion and part of the card. He said that he was glad that they matched him up with a fighter that has a similar style like his because he always love to fight guys that want to stand there and bang no matter what happens. He noted that he recently moved to Las Vegas four weeks ago and is now training with Fight Club along with Tony Fryklund, Winky Wright, and Bas Rutten.
The most interesting thing that Eilers said was the reason why he left Miletich Fighting Systems. He said that when he was set to face Andrei Arlovski for the UFC Heavyweight Title, Tim Sylvia refused to help Eilers train or get ready for the fight because he felt that it was “his belt”. Eilers said that he left right then and went to Utah to train with Jeremy Horn. Eilers also revealed that he had only trained two weeks for Pedro Rizzo because he suffered a slipped disc in his back.
Both Jason House and Freddie Espiricueta were on the call but didn’t have anything of note to say. Cuban said that he is currently in talks with both Fedor and Josh Barnett. HDNet will premiere “Inside MMA”, a show that is similar to Inside Sports on HBO on September 14th. The show will cover all organizations out there. Cuban discussed the possibility of showing HDNet Fights in 3D in movie theatres. Cuban will also be working with Ring of Fire to promote events.