What's up with Tito Ortiz's return? What really happened in the Fedor negotiations? The UFC president has your answers and much more after the jump.
Heading into today's press conference with Dana White, the biggest question on people's minds has been: "What's been going on with Russian champion Fedor Emelianenko and will he fight in the UFC?" The answer, at least for now, seems to be definitively, "No."
Dana White made it clear that he bent on essentially every outrageous demand Fedor and his Russian legion put on the table, except the co-promotion thing, which you can't blame the UFC for. It just doesn't make sense. Dana White doesn't need Fedor -- he wants him, but he doesn't need him. So why would he let M-1 Global come in and put a bunch of money on the table (which he doesn't need) and cash in on the profits that the UFC has tirelessly worked for years to earn? He wouldn't. M-1 has one thing -- a good fighter. Okay, probably the best fighter but still, it doesn't entitle them to a co-promotional effort with the world's top mixed martial arts company.
They have done nothing to earn that right.
Despite their nonsensical reasoning, Dana's door is still open. "They can call me right now and we'll do a deal. They can call me in a month and we'll do a deal."
But considering the following, I wouldn't get your hopes up.
"We did everything to make this deal happen. Everything." White told reporters. "I guarantee he won't be offered another deal like this in mixed martial arts."
He wouldn't release any of the finer details but his tone suggested that the rumors involving ridiculous amounts of money were true and that Fedor would be allowed to do pretty much whatever the f*** he wanted to, short of putting M-1 Global's name on the marquee. So let's try to move past this and get on to some better news...
Image Source: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Tito Ortiz is back. Dana announced via Twitter last Friday that he had mended ways with his long-time associate/friend/client/mortal enemy, but it was unclear if that meant he would be making a return to the Octagon. Today, Ortiz was on the call himself to confirm the news that he would be returning and looking to face top competition from get-go.
Dana white suggested that his first opponent would probably be Mark Coleman, but that was apparently news to Tito, who responded, "Wow, that's the first I'm hearing of this, [laughing] I guess I have my work cut out." His reaction indicates that Coleman probably hadn't heard anything of this either but "The Hammer" has never been one to turn down a fight. Aside from the fact that neither of these guys had any idea about it, this deal seems to be as good as done and Ortiz said he hopes to be back in the Octagon before the end of the year. New Year's card?
Moving on... the headlining bout of Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 103 has been changed to Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort (the UFC vet who was recently re-acquired from the defunct Affliction).
When the Franklin/Henderson fight was first announced, there was nearly a coup among fans who just didn't understand why it was being put together. White says the change was in response to this. "I'm in the business of putting together fights that the fans want, and that was a fight they didn't want."
Thanks for noticing. Seriously, thanks. Belfort/Franklin is way more compelling. Both are savvy veterans who may be on their way to a legitimate resurgence. This fight will likely determine who is on their way up...and who is on their way out.
So where does that leave Henderson? Staring right smack in the face of Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva.
Dana first said that Hendo was "probably" next in line for a middleweight title shot, but later said he was "definitely" getting that fight and that it could happen very soon (as long as Forrest Griffin doesn't rough him up too much). So, who knows?
Could Henderson/Silva be another one for New Year's? Maybe.
Oh, by the way, the winner of Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt is probably getting the winner of the above Silva/Hendo match.
You think it's over? Well, it's not.
Dana also announced that in light of the recent crumble of Setanta Sports (the UFC's cable carrier in the U.K.), they have inked a deal with the newly-formed UK ESPN. The deal goes into effect as soon as next weekend and U.K. fans will see UFC 101 on ESPN. He wouldn't comment on whether or not a similar deal was in the works with ESPN in the U.S.
All this means for us Americans is that those punks across the pond will get to watch it for free, while we're stuck paying for it. First with the taxes, now this. Oh, and there's that little fact that that this deal, signifying the acknowledgement and acceptance of a major player in worldwide sports, is probably one of the most significant business deals Zuffa has made in the past 10 years. But other than that, nothing to get excited about.
So there you have it. That's where the UFC is today. Are we sad Fedor won't be heading to the Octagon to force Bud Light down Brock Lesnar's throat? Yes, of course, but today was a good day for MMA. Be happy and get ready for a weekend of self-loathing while you wait for UFC 101.