White Hosts Conference, Talks Belfort, Affliction, and Return of Ortiz

By Jake Rossen Jul 31, 2009
“I don’t want anybody to ask me any Fedor questions.”

Good luck on that one. UFC President Dana White hosted a telephone press conference -- known as a “phone presser” if you’re a lonely journalist -- Friday afternoon: as expected, much of the conversation revolved around the continued frustrations over signing Fedor Emelianenko.

Long, painful story short: M-1 wants to “co-promote” UFC events; White finds the idea absurd.

“These guys are going to come in and co-promote?” White asked rhetorically. (And yes, you could hear his face getting redder. Thanks for asking.) “How the hell are they going to co-promote anything?...It was basically them coming in and saying ‘We’ve got this guy, some people might say he’s the best fighter in the world, we want half your business.’” White snorted. “That s--t probably works in Russia. Not here.”

That “s--t” actually works quite often in the USA: it’s called the boxing model of promoting, where two disparate promoters and their fighters come to the table and bark about 60/40 percentages. It’s just not how the UFC does business, and rightfully so. They’re 90 percent of the equation. Left to their own devices, as White pointed out, M-1 Global tried to ramp up a major-league push in 2008 with Monte Cox and promptly tripped over themselves before a single show got off the ground.

When not growing increasingly apoplectic about his Russian headaches, White managed to squeeze in word that both Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz would be returning to the Octagon: Ortiz is likely for later in the year, possibly against Mark Coleman. This is the space where I’d normally rant against matching the sport’s elder statesmen against younger, faster mercenaries, but Coleman just laid a porch-and-shotgun beating on Stephan Bonnar, so forget it.

Ortiz’ signing also pretty much dampens any chance rival promotions had of using a marquee UFC name against the promotion.

Belfort’s situation is more transparent: having re-enthused fans (and himself) with a run at 185, the UFC is choosing to slot him in a 205-lb. contest with Rich Franklin September 18 in Dallas, Texas. Nonsensical? You bet. It’s obvious the UFC is desperate for an attraction for Franklin on that date, and they’re willing to ding Belfort’s confidence and renewed popularity to do it.

In brief:

-Several abandoned Affliction athletes have been signed, including Paul Daley, Ben Rothwell, Belfort, and Dan Lauzon. Both L.C. Davis and Javier Vasquez are headed for the WEC. Gegard Mousasi, said White, is a “possibility,” but that “we don’t like to talk about deals until they’re done.” Oh, the irony.

- Dan Henderson is likely the next one in line for a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title. The bout could happen “very soon” if Silva manages to escape a fight with Forrest Griffin without any bruised organs.

- White has no interest in Andrei Arlovski or Tim Sylvia.

- White is, seriously, seriously through talking about Emelianenko. “He got offered a f---king a--load of money….he could go fight Sambo every Thursday night if he wanted to…It’s like Brett Favre coming in and saying, ‘I want to be your 50 percent partner.’”
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