As usual, UFC President Dana White sat down with reporters at today’s UFC 131 pre-fight press conference to answer questions about the hot topics in MMA. Here’s a rundown of the news and notes plus an interview with Dana courtesy of Heavy.com…
— First and foremost, we finally have clarification on how they’re going to handle Nick Diaz’s Strikeforce welterweight title when he meets Georges St. Pierre at UFC 137. In short, it’s going to be a non-issue because Nick Diaz is vacating his title to challenge GSP for his UFC welterweight strap. According to Dana White, Nick has the option to go back to Strikeforce at a later date, but for now he’ll strictly be a UFC fighter and the Strikeforce welterweight title will go up for grabs. The date and match-up for that title fight is TBD.
— Dana White has been hinting at it for months, but today he finally confirmed that all non-title main events starting after UFC 133 ‘Evans vs. Davis’ will be five-round fights.
“From this day forward, as we speak right here, right now today, every fight that is a main event that is not a title fight will be a five-round fight… Except that one (referring to Evans vs. Davis). It should be, but what I don’t want to do to guys is fights that we’ve already made and they’ve signed the bout agreement, you’re mentally training for a three-round fight. To come back and say, ‘Oh, it’s five rounds now,’ you can’t do that to a guy. So all the fights that will be made from this day forward will be five rounds.”
This policy won’t be limited to just pay-per-views. All Spike TV and Versus cards will feature five-round main events as well. No word if that policy extends to Strikeforce.
— A UFC/WEC flyweight (125 lbs.) division has been talked about for years, and now it looks like the UFC is finally getting close to creating one.
“We have to get out there; we have to create the division,” he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) at today’s pre-UFC 131 press conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. “We bring the guys in, sign them and start putting on fights. You figure out who the best is, and you have a title fight.”
Dana didn’t put an specific time table on it, but did say it could come “really soon,” maybe even by the end of the year.
— In a follow-up to an earlier post today, Dana White confirmed that Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson is tentatively scheduled to headline UFC 135 in Denver on Sept. 24, pending the clearance on Jones’ lingering hand injury that canceled his grudge match with Rashad Evans.
“Doctors have got to say his hand is OK, and he’s got to get in the gym and prove it,” the executive said.
Jones’ manager Malki Kawa however says Jones’ hand feel fine and he expects he will be cleared tomorrow when he sees a hand specialist. The hand injury Rampage had coming out of UFC 130 is apparently not a problem anymore.
— Dana White reiterated that the Junior dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin winner would receive a title shot against Cain Velasquez, but that fight won’t happen for another “four to five months” as Velasquez is still recovering from shoulder surgery.
— Dana White didn’t specifically address yesterday’s reports that claimed the UFC is in talks to buy a controlling stake in the G4 network, only saying that they are in talks with “everybody,” but according to Bloomberg, analysts are predicting that may cost the UFC anywhere from $300-$600 million to acquire G4. That’s a lot of money, even for the UFC. It has been clarified though that talks are only in the early stages, so it’s unclear how possible a deal might be.
— UFC 131 ticket sales are reportedly slow due to the Vancouver Canucks competing in the Stanley Cup Finals this weekend. Despite quickly selling out Vancouver last year, Dana White doesn’t seem to mind.
“Let me tell you what, I don’t ever fool myself on what the No. 1 sport in Canada is, believe me. Canada’s been very good to us, it’s been amazing. … I’ve no problem playing second fiddle to their hockey team playing here for the championship. I get it.”
While it isn’t going to be a sell-out, the UFC still expects 13,000-14,000 people at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.