Here’s video of yesterday’s UFC 104 pre-fight press conference via Sherdog. There’s also a bunch of news items and notes coming out of the presser. Here’s a rundown.
—Dan Henderson’s contract status continues to be a hot topic of discussion. Dana White is now claiming Hendo would be the highest paid fighter on the UFC roster if they met his asking price.
“The money that he’s asking for would make him by far the highest-paid guy in the UFC…You’ll never hear me say a bad thing about Dan Henderson, other than he’s ugly, and that’s just the truth.”
“I’m not comfortable discussing contract negotiations in a public forum, but I’d have to respectfully disagree with both statements,” said Henderson through a representative on Thursday. “I am neither seeking to be the highest paid athlete in the UFC, nor am I ugly.”
Henderson’s people say they’ve done their due diligence and even if the UFC agreed to their terms, Hendo wouldn’t even be one of the top ten highest paid fighters in the UFC.
The funny part about this ongoing story is Dana ran into Scott Coker having dinner with Hendo’s lawyer/agent at a restaurant in LA. Hendo’s manager says not to read too much into it, Dan’s merely exploring his options. However awkward the run in might have been, Dana didn’t seem too worried about Dan signing with Strikeforce. He says Strikeforce can’t even match the offer he made to Henderson. Rumors are currently swirling that Hendo asked for a seven-figure signing bonus, but with all the allegations and denials being thrown around with this story, who knows what the truth is.
—Dana said he’s thrilled with ticket sales for UFC 104, despite the fact they’ve already given away 3,300 tickets to fans.
“Everything is good,” White said following Thursday’s UFC 104 pre-event press conference. “We’re happy with ticket sales. I’m [expletive] thrilled that in this economy, we’re doing what we’re doing.”
“We’re always looking at the ticket situation and how to make it easier for fans,” White said. “The people that couldn’t afford them came and found me, and I gave [tickets] to them.”
He says the live gate currently stands around $2 million mark.
—Dana believes CBS is going to pull strong ratings for Fedor’s debut.
We’ll see how it goes. Obviously, CBS believes in this product, believes in this sport. They are going to get out there and promote it and we’ll see what this thing does. I guarantee it’s going to pull a number, yes.”
He reiterated that he hopes Fedor wins because ultimately he belongs in the UFC, but he fears Rogers may knock Fedor out. If Rogers does, Dana expressed interest in signing him.
—Dana didn’t rule out holding a tournament in the future for a division struggling to find a top contender.
“We’ve done a couple of tournaments before,” White said. “We have done tournament-style fights. We did it with the 155-pound division once. We did it with the 170-pound division once. I would never say never.
“These things happen in certain divisions when you got a guy that’s as dominant as he (St. Pierre) is. I mean, look at how bad our heavyweight division was a couple of years ago. It was horrendous. Things can turn around quick.”
—If we didn’t already know, PRIDE is gone forever.
“I think it’s gone. It didn’t work out the way we planned it over there and we’re going to stick with the UFC brand. But Pride is still a brand that people love and people care about. You know, there’s merchandise and there’s still DVDs. We have a Pride TV show that comes out in January called ‘The Best of Pride’ that will be on Spike.”
—Dana continued to rip apart Roy Nelson calling him a “moron” and an “idiot” but confirmed he will become a UFC fighter if he proves his worth in the cage.
—Mexico City is looking good for a UFC event in April 2010.
“That’s the rumor,” said White when asked about the potential April date. “Listen, when you do a show in a market like Mexico, you have to have a good sponsor. As for April, things are looking good.”
—Silva-Belfort for UFC 108 still isn’t set. It’s currently pending medical clearance from Silva’s doctor. No backup plan yet.