UFC returns to downtown LA on Saturday night for a light-heavyweight filled card that will be broadcast by FOX network. The world’s fastest growing professional sports league made it’s debut at Staples Center in 2006 with a card that featured octagon legend Royce Gracie. Three years later, they returned with what ended up being a controversial title fight between Shogun Rua and then-champion Lyoto Machida. Many watching thought they had just witnessed a title change. However, the judges didn’t see it that way.
While the re-match went Rua’s way, he later lost the belt to Jon Jones.
Rua and Machida are fighting in separate bouts this weekend with a possible title shot on the line though. UFC President Dana White has said whichever fighter comes out of the show with the best performance – including their two opponents (Brandon Vera and Ryan Bader) – will become the number one contender at 205 lbs.
After today’s press conference with the four fighters scheduled to square off this weekend, we were able to get even more from the always charismatic – and brutally honest – head of the UFC, as he gathered with a small group of media members.
Here’s what White had to say following the presser…
– “I would like Forrest to retire,” he passionately exclaimed. “There’s nothing left for Forrest to prove. He won The Ultimate Fighter [TUF] and he’s had an amazing career. He won the title (from Quintin ‘Rampage’ Jackson), when people thought he couldn’t. He became a huge star. He made shitloads of money. He’s got a beautiful wife, he’s got a baby. You know, if you don’t want to be a world champion and you’re still not in that ‘mix’ – like I call it – why, what’s the point? I get it. I get that it’s hard to walk away from walking into the arena with big crowds, etc. But, there’s a point in time when it’s like, ‘You’ve done your thing man. You’ve had an amazing career. You’ve done great things. There’s nothing left to prove.'”
– On the idea of Griffin and Stephan Bonnar closing out their trilogy by being TUF coaches and then fighting one last time – ‘No and no.’
– On another season-one TUF star, Chris Leben: “He contributed a lot to this company…He always brings it…When he leaves this sport I want him to have his gym, his house paid off…I respect him, care about him and want him to do well.”
– On long-time middleweight champion Matt Hughes: “He’s been a staple in this organization for a long time. He’s been phenomenal. There’s nothing left to prove. But, it’s so hard for these guys to say – ‘I’m retired.’ It’s so hard. It was the same thing with Chuck (Liddell).”
– On who Rashad Evans would fight if he moved down to 185lbs: “Maybe he fights Chris Weidman. I don’t know. I just came up with that off the top of my head.”
– On the disappointing debut of former Bellator Champion Hector Lombard a few weeks ago at UFC 149 in Calgary: “You’re fighting at a whole new level here…But, don’t discredit Tim Boetsch. He won that fight with a broken foot.”
– On Mike Swick, who returns this weekend after a nearly two-year layoff: “We used to call him ‘Mr. Glass’ around the office. He’s always getting hurt…It’s good to have him back…You’re also going to see an awesome quote in the FOX vignette’s too – where DaMarques Johnson (his opponent) says there’s a 50% chance he’s winning this fight and a 100% chance somebody’s getting knocked out. I love that line!”
– On Frankie Edgar getting the re-match against lightweight champion Ben Henderson at UFC 150 in Denver, CO (August 11): “I didn’t want to give Frankie the re-match…But, he came to me a bunch of times and he wanted it…He’s always been there for us and I wanted to return the favor.”
– If Edgar looses, will he cut down to 145lbs? “I think he should have already. Who knows. He doesn’t listen to me.”
– On Melvin Guillard and Donald Cerrone, the co-main event at UFC 150: “Melvin should’ve been a champion already…He’s nutty in the head…But, over the last few years hes been with good camps that have settled him down…I can’t wait for that fight…I want to see those guys stand up and bang.”
– On Saturday’s FOX card going up against the Olympics on NBC – “It is what it is. But, you know what’s funny? We were talking about, ‘Oh, the Olympics are going on’ and I was like, ‘So? People really watch the Olympics?’ Oops! People watch the Olympics!”
– On entertainment related competition: “That’s what a lot of people don’t realize – not only pay-per-view dates, but with television dates. We’re always going up against something. And if it’s not on television, it’s a movie or it’s this or it’s that. Anything that grabs the attention of 18-34 year old males is our competition.”
– On BJ Penn’s rumored weight gain of late: “If you look at BJ Penn’s career, count how many times he was in phenomenal shape. I love BJ. BJ’s been a huge star for us for a long time. But, I think BJ could have been – he could be up there with the talk of ‘Who’s the greatest of all-time?’ I’ve said it for years about BJ. He’s tough as nails, has an unbelievable chin and a rock head. If you look at some of the fights he’s had where he’s on the bottom, and he’s getting smashed, the guy doesn’t give up. I don’t know what his skin is made out of. He doesn’t cut. He’s just this kid who was born and built to fight. And he’s crazy like that.”
– On Penn and his UFC 152 opponent, Rory MacDonald, agreeing to additional drug testing: “Whatever. That’s there business.”
– White confirmed recent reports that the UFC will be adding several smaller weight classes. He explained that when they expand into Asia, South America and Mexico, they’ll want to take advantage of the local fighters – “traditionally, they’re smaller.”
– On the upcoming Strikeforce main event of Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir: “Cormier won the tournament. He’s their heavyweight champ. …As far as i know, it’s for the title. If it’s not, that’s ridiculous.” White also said, he and/or Lorenzo Fertitta “never considered” Tim Sylvia for the slot. “Who has he beat (lately)?”
– On why he only mentions Ronda Rousey and Misha Tate when talking about women’s MMA – “I don’t follow the women, so I don’t know many of them. I know two, Rousey and Tate.” (also note here – he was complimentary towards the recent all-women MMA card and can foresee a day when there will be enough female fighters to put legit matches together in UFC)
– On the idea of Caesar Gracie convincing White to let Nick Diaz fight Anderson Silva next: “He has a better chance of convincing me to get hair plugs.” He also asked, “On what f’n planet does that (fight) make sense?” From the sound of things, the UFC President seemed much more interested in a possible Silva vs GSP super fight.
White also said the UFC plans on returning to Anaheim early next year. Whether that will be a PPV card or another FOX show remains to be seen.
For more news and notes from the UFC Weigh-ins tomorrow and the fights on Saturday, follow us on twitter – where we posted several live notes and quotes during the main portion of today’s presser. Also, please remember to LIKE this article down below.