With Rashad Evans Vs Tito Ortiz now installed as the main event, the UFC held a media conference call today to promote August 6th’s UFC 133 show in Philadelphia. Though there weren’t any fighters on the call, Dana White was on hand to answer everyone’s questions.
See the keynotes from the call below.
– Dana confirms that if Rashad Evans wins then he will get the next shot at the title against the winner of Jones vs Rampage.
As for Ortiz, taking into consideration that he defeated a top 10 contender in Ryan Bader, if he also beats Evans then Dana believes that would put him “in the mix”, and while he stops short of thrusting him into the No.1 contender spot, he does think that he would be one of the top three light-heavyweights vying for the spot.
– White calls Ortiz’s recent return to the forefront of the sport a, “really interesting, cool story,” and praises him for stepping up and taking this fight on short notice. He also reveals that Ortiz did not ask for, and hasn’t been given, an enhanced salary for this fight. While he doesn’t guarantee that Ortiz will be immune from being cut if he loses this bout, White does admit that he is more likely to look more favorably upon him due to this.
– As for who the UFC would have turned to next if Ortiz hadn’t agreed to the fight, White states that Vladimir Matyushenko, who also fights on the UFC 133 card, was next on the list due to the fact that they wanted to make sure Evans got a chance to compete after a lengthy absence, and Matyushenko had won five of his last six fights.
– Moving to Machida, White claims that the Brazilian had been hounding him for a fight, yet after initially agreeing to take on Evans, his camp later asked for ‘Anderson Silva’ money before he would accept the fight. stunned by this sudden demand the UFC president refused them, saying that when Machida had done as much in the sport as Silva then he could get the same kind of money as him.
White says it’s out of character for Machida to make money demands like this. He also points out that it could be that Machida didn’t know that his management were going to make this counter-offer, though later in the call he reflects that the fact that the fighter hasn’t called to speak to him since this story broke tells him that perhaps he did know all along what was happening behind the scenes regarding the money offer.
– White briefly references the fact that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira recently criticized him in the Brazilian media for saying that it was time for Wanderlei Silva to retire, with ‘Big Nog’ suggesting that it wasn’t his place to say so. According to the UFC president the reason Big Nog took his comments so personally is that White also had a similar conversation with him about his future following his KO loss to Cain Velasquez last year.
– A member of the media asks whether former WEC champion Mike Brown, who fights on the undercard at UFC 133, can one day become a champion again after his recent slump in form. White points to Ortiz’s sudden comeback as evidence that it can be done. He goes on to add that Brown is a respected fighter but it’s hard to say whether he’s losing fights due to physical, mental and / or emotional reasons, or if it’s simply the case that age is now getting the better of him at 35.
– Going back to Ortiz once again, White is asked what he thinks of the former champion’s box office / PPV potential going into this fight. Dana says he’ll have to wait and see but there’s no doubt that Ortiz has a lot of buzz behind him after his big win at UFC 132 and he expects people to be interested to see if he can now pull off another big upset win over Evans as well.
– As for how Evans is taking the news of his change of opponents, White appears pleased with his reaction, stating that ‘Suga’ told him, “I don’t care who you get. I don’t care who the opponent is. You don’t have to call and approve the opponent with me, whoever the opponent is, I’m in, I’m ready to fight.”
– Speaking to Ortiz’s continued popularity in the sport, White claims that the long-serving UFC fighter has “the it factor,” pointing out that whether people love him or hate him, they are still drawn to him and want to see him fight.
– Up next is a question about the growth of Latino fighters in the UFC. White is pleased by this, but also notes that it’s only going to continue to grow in the future as the lighter weight divisions, including the 125lb’ers which he confirms are still in the pipeline, expand.
– Weighing up the Evans Vs Ortiz fight, White says that Evans is younger, faster, probably has better wrestling at this stage in his career….“all the same sh!t I said about Ryan Bader!” he laughs, before adding, “who the hell knows what’s going to happen!”
– Switching the focus to Phil Davis for a moment, White reveals that his knee injury kept him from training kickboxing for two and a half weeks in the build-up to the bout. Though Davis was still prepared to take the fight White made the decision to pull him saying it wasn’t fair to put his unbeaten record on the line in such a big fight under those kind of circumstances.
Davis needs rest and rehab and once he’s healed up 100% White expects to see Davis back in action against a top-1o guy in the light-heavyweight division.
– Dana states that he never considered looking to Strikeforce’s 205lb division to find an opponent for Evans.
– weighing up the fact that Ortiz has only three and a half weeks to prepare for the fight and is only two weeks removed from his last bout, compared to the fact that Evans hasn’t fought in over fourteen months, White believes that ring rust is a major factor and therefore Ortiz holds an advantage in that regard.
– Both Chael Sonnen and Chris Leben texted Dana to request the fight with Evans if the UFC couldn’t find an opponent. He politely declined, pointing out to “both those nuts” that they weight 185lbs.
– The UFC don’t specifically make a ‘Plan B’ when they put together big fights in case something unexpected happens like with Evans Vs Davis, but White points out that he always tells fighters that they are professional athletes and therefore should be in shape all year round and be expecting a call to fight at any time.
– Regarding a new book about Dana White that has emerged, apparently a warts and all account of his life written by his mother, the UFC president admits he hasn’t read it, but jokes that, “I feel like I’m Eminem now.”