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UFC Press Conference: Tito Re-Signs, Belfort-Franklin UFC 103 Headliner, Fedor Update

Dana WhiteDana White held his UFC press conference to announce all the latest developments with the UFC. Here’s the rundown.

–Dana White said he offered Fedor an “amazing deal,” better than he will get anywhere else, and has done all he can do.

–The UFC has signed Vitor Belfort. He will replace Dan Henderson against Rich Franklin in the main event at UFC 103. It will be at light heavyweight.

–Announced ESPN-UK deal, will start broadcasting with UFC 101.

–Tito Ortiz has re-signed with the UFC. Dana says they’re talking about Tito Ortiz vs Mark Coleman. Tito says you’ll never hear him talk about money again. Says Strikeforce doesn’t offer enough challenges. Said, “Competition was my biggest factor. I’m healthy. I’m 100%. I’m very excited. The hell with the money, the hell with the fame.” Targeting end of year for return. Trusts Dana 100%.

–Dan Henderson is next in line for title shot against Anderson Silva. Maia-Marquardt winner may be after that.

–UFC signed Dan Lauzon, Ben Rothwell, Chase Gormley, Paul Buentello and Paul Daley. WEC signed Javier Vaquez, Mark Hominick, LC Davis. Still talking to other Affliction fighters.

–There is no ABC-ESPN or any other network TV deal to announce at this time. They want one and are confident it will happen, but nothing to announce today. He did say about the potential ESPN deal, “I like what I’m hearing now more than I ever did before.” The UFC will not however give up production to a network. Would put major fights on network television.

–M-1’s co-promotion offer is 50-50 split on Fedor’s pay-per-view cards. “These guys are going to come in and co-promote? How are they gonna co-promote anything? That shit works in Russia. Not here.” If co-promotion were off the table, a deal would be done. “We did everytihng to get this deal done, it’s insanity to turn down a deal like this. There is no compromise on the co-promotion. The Fertittas have a gaming license. There has to be full background checks. It’s impossible, it’ll never happen.” But, “the deal’s not dead, they can call me…I was the nicest Dana ever in these negotiations.” They haven’t rescinded any part of their offer. Says they offered Fedor a “fucking assload” of money, but Fedor doesn’t want to fight in the UFC. “A guy who won’t fight? Fuck ‘em.” Fans want to see him fight Brock, and felt it was his job to make it happen.

–Dana reiterated his commitment to base jump off the Mandalay Bay.

–Dana is not interested in re-signing Tim Sylvia or Andrei Arlovski.

–Dana says the UFC “can’t be stopped.” They are going everywhere including Japan and Russia.

–Says they’re “very close” on that game-changing deal from that trip to LA he teased about in one of his old video blogs.

–Dana and the UFC have “buried the hatchet” with Atencio and Affliction.

–UFC 100 was big success in Mexico. Mexico City event in the future.

–Dana can’t promise he won’t ever have disagreements, but they won’t ever go back down the road they were on before.

I’ll post any audio or video if it becomes available.

In short, nothing too “major” that we pretty much didn’t already expect.

Tito Ortiz has re-signed with the UFC. Everyone has suspected it for awhile, and Dana pretty much let the cat out of the bag last week when he tweeted “welcome back Tito.” Sounds like he’s going to fight Mark Coleman first which should be a good test/warm-up to see where his back is at. It’ll be interesting to see how he does, but I’m not expecting him to be back in title contention again.

No surprise with the ESPN-UK deal. ESPN announced it yesterday. It does however sound like a network deal, likely with ABC-ESPN, is much closer than a network deal has ever been. To be honest, it’s pretty much inevitable. How long it will take? Who knows, but as this sport and the UFC grows, the mainstream networks and outlets won’t be able to ignore it forever. We’re a consumer-driven nation. What’s really interesting though is Dana says they would be putting major fights on network television. I’m sure they’d start out slow, but I’m very curious to see how much of their business model would shift from pay-per-view to network TV. Sounds great for the fans.

The biggest news is arguably the Vitor Belfort signing. Replacing Dan Henderson with him against Rich Franklin at UFC 103 was a great move. Not too many people wanted to see Henderson-Franklin II. Belfort-Franklin at 205 is a lot more exciting, and will be a big test for Vitor. I’m looking forward to it. Oh, and Dan Henderson gets his middleweight title shot. That’s pretty big too.

Nothing really new on the Fedor front. Dana reiterated they will not co-promote, and even said it’s impossible due to the Fertitta’s gaming license. Both sides have now confirmed M-1 wants half of the business a co-promoted Fedor fight which is just ridiculous. We’ll see what happens, but it’s obvious a deal isn’t getting done unless M-1 drops the co-promotion demand.

Thanks to Cagewriter, Fanhouse, and MMA Weekly for some of the quotes.

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