by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
The top of the American MMA food-chain was present at Cage Rage this weekend in the form of Dana White, President of the UFC. Dana comes to Cage Rage having successfully run UK auditions for The Ultimate Fighter Series 3 over the last two days here in London.
MMAWeekly’s Lee Whitehead managed to catch up with Dana briefly to discuss the level of competition at the auditions, the Shamrock/Ortiz situation, Forest Griffin’s upcoming fight with Tito and his expectations of TUF3.
White revealed that his expectations coming to the UK were fairly low as the UK MMA scene hasn’t been around as long as the US or Japan but has been surprised by the quality of the applicants so far. He originally expected to return to the US today with 2 fighters but will instead be returning with 9 fighters for further assessment.
White wouldn’t mention any names upon being pressed further about the identities of the applicants but did confirm that he has spoken to both Alex Reid of London Shootfighters and Michael Bisping of The Wolfslair Gym as they were present at the auditions.
Everyone involved in the TUF3 season will be expecting fireworks between Shamrock and Ortiz, not least of all White who stated that this was the main driving force behind pairing these two up and that it pretty much guarantees excellent TV footage. White also mentioned that despite the fact that Ortiz is now a contracted UFC fighter again, he doesn’t expect much to change between the two and feels that they will always end up banging heads on issues.
Pushing White for a verdict on what he thought the outcome would be of the Ortiz/Griffin fight is a difficult matter and White would only state that he feels that Griffin has better stand-up and a better Jui-Jitsu game but that Ortiz has a much better wrestling base and underrated submission defense skills. He does acknowledge that by the time they fight Ortiz will be coming off an 18-month competition break and wonders if ring rust will be a factor?
In closing; The question of who Shamrock’s likely opponent for the 2nd fight of his contract will be remains unanswered and depends on the outcome of the Ortiz fight, White did however state that Shamrock has had an immense contribution to the sport and would like to see him stay with the UFC even when he does decide to retire from active competition. White wouldn’t go into the design of such plans but it would be hard to speculate on Shamrock taking up an ambassador/figurehead role for the organization.