As usual following major press conferences, Dana White was swarmed by media members to get answers to their burning questions on the hot topics in MMA. Above, Dana talks to Ariel Helwani about Randy Couture and Royce Gracie and below, we have a round-up of other news and notes coming out of the press conference.
— Dana White is starting to warm up to the idea of a Royce Gracie retirement fight at UFC Rio. He told Ariel Helwani that Royce has already pulled him aside and asked to talk to him, so he’s going to hear him out and figure out what to do from there. Still, Dana didn’t sound too convinced that Royce Gracie vs. Matt Hughes was a fight worthy of a rematch at the press conference.
“He thinks that his performance against Matt Hughes wasn’t what it could have been, and thinks he can beat Matt Hughes. He wants that fight again. Who am I to say? There’s times when I step in – for instance, like Chuck Liddell, and I say, ‘Chuck, I think you should retire.’ Do I think Royce Gracie should fight again? I don’t know. He didn’t look too damn good against Matt the first time.”
— Dana White told MMA Fighting that he doesn’t think this will be Randy Couture’s last fight.
“I’m going to go out there and say it again. I know he was chirping, he was mad at me earlier, but listen. Randy Couture, I’ve been saying it and you guys have been standing in front of me when I said it. This guy is one of the top 10 best in the world. And I think he’s one of those guys that says, ‘Yeah, I’m retiring. I’m done.’ It’s hard to do. You see Chuck Liddell. You don’t know what I went through to get Chuck Liddell to retire. And I don’t think anybody would disagree that it was time for him to retire. Who knows with this guy? I’m not saying it’s not time for him to retire but who knows? He’s such a competitor that every time there’s something out there and he says, ‘You know what? I think I can beat this guy,’ I think he’s going to come out and try to do it.”
Dana clarified that he would be happy for Randy if this is it, but he just doesn’t think this is the end.
— Dana confirmed that Nick Diaz has a clause in his contract that allows him to box this year. Following UFC 129, he plans to sit down personally with Nick and see if they can figure it out the details.
“What I’m going to do is I’m going to sit down Nick. I like the Diaz brothers. I’m going to sit down with him and figure out what he wants to do. I’m going to sit down with Nick Diaz, literally, after this fight and try to figure out what’s next for him… It’s in his deal that he can [box], absolutely.”
— We finally have an answer to why Mayhem hadn’t fought for Strikeforce in so long and why he left to sign with the UFC. Dana (and Cesar Gracie) confirmed that Showtime essentially blacklisted him after the post-fight brawl incident on CBS last year. Nevertheless, Dana doesn’t put on all the blame on Mayhem for that situation and brought him over when his contract expired.
“Mayhem Miller he had a contract with those guys, he wasn’t being fought because he couldn’t fight on Showtime, he couldn’t fight on CBS, so he was in a bad position. So that’s why that happened,” White told MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday about Miller’s signing.
“Mayhem, he’s banished from CBS for life. In my opinion, he was a guy that’s put into a position. First of all, we control what happens inside that Octagon, the fighters do not. In our organization, you don’t see melees break out and huge fights. You see what happens when somebody does cross the line and do stuff like that,” White stated.
“I think Mayhem was put in a bad position. I don’t know, I haven’t talked to Mayhem about this, this is just what I believe and conversations I’ve had with Joe Silva. I think he was put in there to promote a fight and anyone who would throw Mayhem Miller in there when the Diaz brothers are in there, it’s a (expletive) big melting pot for disaster. I don’t blame Mayhem for the whole situation.”
— Dana is staying away from the Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson negotiations, but Lorenzo Fertitta is actively involved in trying to get the fight booked.
— Dana conceded that the TUF 13 ratings have been disappointing but blamed the new 9pm timeslot for the low viewership. Thinks the competition is too strong on Wednesday nights at 9pm.
— As expected, Rashad Evans will lose his title shot if he loses to Phil Davis at UFC 133. Phil Davis, on the other hand, won’t necessarily steal away the title shot with a win, but Dana says there is “huge upside” for Phil in the fight.
— Dana says that Cain Velasquez is recovering well from shoulder surgery and they hope he will be ready to go in October.
— Speaking of October, the UFC will return to the UK on Oct. 15 for an event at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.