As usual, Dana White fielded questions from the media following the UFC 116 pre-fight press conference. Most of the discussion centered around Fedor Emelianenko and Jake Shields, but Dana also talked about Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson and Nick Diaz. Video via Heavy.com.
Dana on Fedor (more or less what he said earlier this week):
To be honest with you, without joking around and no [expletive], I honestly and truly have not believed that Fedor is this great heavyweight that everybody thinks he is. Yes, back in the day in 2005 and before that, he was beating some great guys who were in their prime, and he was nasty. But to prove that you’re the best in the world, you have to fight the best consistently. You have to consistently fight the best. It would be like calling the Lakers the world champions and they’re playing some college team. It’s not the same. I know that everybody can see the sense in that, but people just love to because he’s not here they want to say, ‘Oh, he could do this and that.’ It’s all mythology and [expletive]… Honestly, when he lost, you guys know there’s been times when I have animosity with guys and you lose, and I’m like, ‘Ha. Alright, there you go. But to be honest with you, I didn’t have any of that for Fedor… If we were to have come to a deal with Fedor, yeah, we could have put on a big promotion, and we could have found out (how good he is). People are going to say, ‘Oh, he got caught in a triangle. Anybody can.’ Yeah, anybody can, but it would have been a lot better if he came over here and lost to Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, than losing to Werdum… Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar, we know all their attributes. We know how good they both are. I have no idea what’s going to happen on Saturday night. I have no clue. So to say that one guy could beat this guy, there’s only one way to find out who can beat who, and that’s fight, and [Emelianenko and his camp] aren’t willing to do it… I know it’s fun because I don’t have [Emelianenko] and he’s not in the UFC, so it’s fun to say, ‘Oh, what we he do?’ And I guarantee you, get ready: (Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair) Overeem will be the next guy now. ‘Oh, Overeem would beat them all.’ Overeem got knocked out by Chuck Liddell at light heavyweight.
When Dana White says he’s no longer interested in signing Fedor, I think it’s important to take into account that Fedor is coming off a loss with one fight left on his contract. It’s easy for Dana to say that now. If Fedor finishes the last fight on his Strikeforce contract with a win, I would be shocked if the UFC and M-1 didn’t enter into a another round of negotiations. Fedor lost a fight, and while that’s certainly more significant for him than everyone else, it’s not like he’s some washed up bum who’s suddenly not good enough to compete at the highest level.
Dana is willing to let Jake Shields compete at middleweight, but he doesn’t think he’ll want to.
“I think he should come in at 170 pounds. Our 185-pound division is nasty. He can [come in as a middleweight] if he wants to. I don’t think he wants to… Why would you want to come into that 185-pound division? I know Anderson (Silva) dominates so much that he makes everybody else look (bad), but you’ve got Nate Marquardt in there. There’s some tough guys in that division, and he’s not a big 185-pounder… The real 185-pounders are cutting down from 215 to make that weight, so I would say 170, but on the flipside, you’ve got to give the guy his credit. He beat Henderson. Henderson fought at 185 and 205. So if he told me he wanted to go to 185, I wouldn’t argue with him.”
Below, Dana White talks to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani about UFC 116, the Fedor-Tapout deal that he may or may not have persuaded Tapout to back away from, and his disappointment in MMA legislation falling by the wayside once again in New York.