White Confirms Penn vs Sanchez, Hints At Network TV

by – Stephen Marrocco

PORTLAND, Ore. – UFC president Dana White on Thursday said a third UFC event was in the works for November, featuring a headlining bout between lightweight champion B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez.

What may really peak interest is that he said the event was neither a pay-per-view nor a Spike televised affair, lending credence to strong speculation of a long coveted network television deal.

“Wait and see boys… if I can pull this one off,” he said.

Penn last week confirmed that his next challenge would be against Sanchez, though he declined to name the time and place of the fight. Earlier this week, Penn and his representatives met with UFC officials for undisclosed contract negotiations.

Despite several reports that said UFC 105 – expected for Nov. 14 at the Manchester Evening News Arena – was the bout’s destination, White said Penn’s rumored dislike of fighting in the U.K. did not influence the decision to create a third event.

“B.J. doesn’t want to fight anywhere,” said White. “B.J. doesn’t want to fight in Las Vegas because he didn’t like the decision, and then when they called ‘The BJ Penn rule,’ now he likes Las Vegas and wants to fight. Dude, please, don’t even get me started.”

Rumors of an impending UFC deal with a major television network have been in heavy rotation this month. On a conference call announcing a deal between the promotion and the U.K. wing of ESPN, White said his company was currently fielding interest from one or possibly more network stations.

“We’ve never had more interest than right now,” said White. “Obviously, I think all the hard work we’ve done over nine years and UFC 100 had a big part in it, too. I’m pretty confident we’re gonna have a deal very, very soon. I like what I’m hearing now more than I ever did before.”

Yet White declined to say how close a deal was.

“Once we get the right offer, we will be on network television,” he stated. “We haven’t had the right offer, yet.”

He has recently been in Los Angeles working on the Penn/Sanchez event.

In related news, White said Dan Henderson has lobbied him for a second meeting with Anderson Silva to take place at UFC 105, but said he would wait for the outcome of Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt at this weekend’s UFC 102 to evaluate the middleweight title picture. He did, however, confirm that a rumored middleweight tilt between Michael Bisping and Denis Kang would serve as the co-main event of UFC 105.