September 26, 2007

by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
On Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif., following UFC 76, UFC president Dana White once again addressed the media discussing everything from key points of the night’s event, as well as implications for future bouts, his thoughts on competing promotions and, of course, the status of elusive free agent Fedor Emelianenko.

After voicing his dislike of Internet websites and his disdain for the various top ten rankings, White informed the media that UFC 76 had garnered a two million dollar gate.

He announced that “Fight of the Night” was awarded to Tyson Griffin and Thiago Tavares and Forrest Griffin received “Submission of the Night” honors. The three fighters were given a bonus of $40,000 each.

White has been trying to put together a match between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva for several years. Every time it looks as it’s going to finally take place, something happens to prevent it.

Asked if Liddell losing to Jardine eliminated the possibility of a bout with Silva, White said, “I walked up to Wanderlei Silva during the third round and I said, ‘I think Chuck’s going to lose this fight.’ He said, ‘What f***ing fight are you watching? Chuck Liddell’s winning this fight.’ I think Wanderlei is very upset. This is a fight we’ve been waiting for, for a long time, and it’s like it was never meant to happen, so I don’t know.”

“We’ve got to sit back and look at things. There’re a lot of different fights that we could make off of this one. First, Chuck needs to decide what Chuck wants to do and [then] we’ll figure it out. [Silva vs. Liddell] had the possibility of being the biggest fight ever in mixed martial arts history.

“I was really pissed off that Pride, before securing that acquisition, set up that Dan Henderson fight, and it’s been all downhill from there. We’ll see what happens.”

White added, “Maybe we do Chuck and Shogun now. Who knows?”

There has been much speculation regarding whether the number one ranked heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, would end up in the UFC after the Fertitta brothers (whose company owns the UFC) purchase of Pride. White is confident that Emelianenko will eventually sign to fight in the Octagon.

“I think that Fedor, right now, the word is he wants to fight in this Sambo event, but I won’t let him fight in it if he’s with us. I think he’s going to wait until he fights in this thing in October, November, and we’ll probably come to a deal with him at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”

“I’m very positive we’re going to end up with him. It would be crazy for him to fight anywhere else other than the UFC.”

White and the UFC have big plans for Emelianenko if they can secure the deal. “What we’d want to do is, we’d want to know who is the best heavyweight in the world. So if we sign Fedor, Fedor comes right in and fights Randy Couture for the title,” stated White.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson obtained the UFC light heavyweight title by defeating Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 in May of this year. Quinton will not be back in the Octagon until 2008 according to White. “Rampage hurt his hand and is not going to fight until after the beginning of the year.”

Questioned about newer promotions popping up, like Bodog and EliteXC, the UFC president responded, ” I think that I’m not impressed with any of them, but I tell you what, the last ProElite show [ProElite is the parent company of EliteXC] was better than the other one they’ve done. The production was better. I actually saw the end of it. I saw the Robbie Lawler fight.”

White continued, “Again, you’re talking about a lower level, lower tier. Robbie Lawler, I like Robbie Lawler. I’m the one who brought him into the UFC. And he’s not in the UFC because he lost three in a row. Ninja wasn’t even ranked. He had the title in ProElite. You’re talking about lower, lower, lower level. If you picked all of those shows to be a number two to us, they’re so far a number two; it’s not even funny. And I’m just being honest now and not being a wise ass.”

He went on to say, “I think that they’re necessary. We need those shows because fighters are being paid, fighters are fighting and getting experience, and guys are going to come up through there and fight in the UFC some day.”