UFC 71 Conference Call Reveals Rua Signing, PRIDE Update, Sanchez Retirement Talk, and More

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…


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