UFC Quick Quote: Tito Ortiz is ’still a force to be reckon with’ based on UFC 98 main event
“Well, to start it off, I think Machida will win by what Joe Rogan calls, ‘elusiveness!’ or in my words ‘hit and run.’ This will be a great test for Evans to find the range to get the takedown. Machida is the favorite in my experience with both fighters. Never mind there’s only one of the fighters that are undefeated truthfully. That mark one on Rashad’s record isn’t a draw. It’s nice to see that one guy I almost submitted will be the champ and the other that I beat is the champ. I’m still a force to be reckon with.”
– Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz tells PunchDrunkGamer.com that he’s still got game because he’s given the UFC 98: “Evans vs. Machida” main event participants all they could handle. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” battled current 205-pound champ, “Sugar” Rashad” to a draw at UFC 73: “Stacked” back in July 2007, but more than likely would have won the bout if he didn’t get docked a point for grabbing the fence in the second round. He then had Machida in big trouble courtesy of a triangle/armbar submission attempt late in the third round of their bout at UFC 84: “Ill Will” in May 2008. He eventually dropped the contest to “The Dragon” via clear-cut unanimous decision. So what say you … is Tito Ortiz still a major player at 205 pounds or can he still compete (and beat) the best in the world?
UFC 98 Preview w/Monster, Ortiz, Miletich, Thomson & More!
Nate Quarry – “Serra/Hughes is the fight I'm personally tuning in to see. Ever been to a UFC and seen a fight break out in the stands? Everyone turns to watch it. Why would they want to see two drunken brawlers instead of two well conditioned athletes? Because of the passion the drunken idiots have. We're addicted to seeing this personal part of people's lives. It's what makes us tune in to reality shows. We want to see those raw emotions on display. It's one of the few taboos left in the world. Well, guess what? That's what we get to see with Hughes and Serra. Two guys who don't like each other. One farm boy and one New Yorker. Hughes plan is going to be the same as always. Take him down and ground and pound. But Serra is going to be very tough to do that to. He's got very fast hips and is built well for reversals and submissions. And Serra has proven he has knock out power in his hands. I don't generally give predictions because I usually get them wrong but... I've got to go with Serra on this one.”
Dana White's UFC 98 Video Blog - Episodes 1 and 2
Check out Dana White's video blogs as he meets up with fans during the midnight release of UFC 2009: Undisputed, and gets left an interesting message on the sidewalk.
In the second video, Dana makes an appearance on the Opie and Anthony show, hangs out with Jimmy Fallon, and more.
Dana White to CNBC: UFC First Quarter up 20%
UFC President spoke with CNBC’s Darren Rovell and touted the UFC”s First Quarter results for 2009:
White gave us a never before released number to prove it, saying that business was up 20 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008.
Much of the increase in quarter over quarter results can be traced back to the PPV success of UFC 94: Penn vs GSP 2, which generated nearly a million buys on PPV. This was a net increase of around 300k buys over the highest selling PPV in the First Quarter of 08 (Lesnar vs Mir). The UFC also benefited from higher than normal numbers for their Franklin Henderson card from their UK Division. Other items, like their deal with Topps also came to fruition during this time period, opening up additional revenue streams. The UFC can also look forward to a higher than normal result for the second or third quarter of 2009, depending on when revenue from the UFC Undisputed 2009 video game is booked.
White also hinted at his strategy when enticing sponsors on the corporate level for the UFC:
“Look our ratings in the 18-34’s,” White said. “We outrated Monday Night Football in that demo four times last year.” White also said he thinks that even in this environment the UFC….. can land another big sponsor. “Especially now we can do it,” White said. “The price of an NFL sponsorship is so high and we hit the same market at a lower price.”
The UFC can sell itself as a value play, giving more bang for the buck. The UFC make a very attractive option, especially now when the ad/sponsorship market is in something of a free fall. The value play doesn’t come without some risk for the sponsors, as evidenced by the videoblog brouhaha that erupted recently.
Chuck Liddell: War on retirement ‘blown way out of proportion’
“It’s like if you’re a kid and your parents don’t get along. They both called me up and talked to me, and they both love me and have my best interests at heart. I love both guys, and I’m not going to take sides. They’ve never liked each other. But they’ve always kept it quiet out of respect for me. Now that it’s going back and forth, it’s been blown way out of proportion.”
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell is uncomfortable with the public feud that he erupted between his longtime trainer, John Hackleman, and his boss and good friend, UFC President Dana White, over his retirement. White feels the “Iceman” — who has suffered three knockouts in his past five fights — “is past his prime, doesn’t need the money, and there is no purpose in risking permanent injuries.” Hackleman feels Liddell should be able to make up his own mind. Perhaps the only thing that will end this saga is a decision from Liddell, which is apparently still in the works.
Following back surgery, Goran Reljic takes up light training for UFC return
Goran Reljic's UFC debut couldn't have gone much better.
Pushing his professional career record to 8-0, the 25-year-old Croatian defeated Wilson Gouveia via second-round TKO and earned a $75,000 Fight of the Night bonus for his efforts.
Reljic (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) hasn't fought since that UFC 84 main-card bout a year ago, but his manager told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) the middleweight recently recommenced light training and hopes to return to the UFC later this year.
Reljic had been slated to make his second UFC appearance in October at UFC 90. However, a back injury forced him out of his scheduled bout with Thales Leites just two weeks before the Chicago event.
"Since then we had been trying different (forms of) rehabilitation to solve his back problems," Relic's manager, Zoran Saric, said. "Three months ago, doctors in Croatia decided to do lower back/disc surgery. Everything went well, and Goran started light training for a month."
Rashad Evans: Lyoto Machida is better than Rampage Jackson; Interested in Anderson Silva fight
“I thought Lyoto was more deserving than Rampage anyway. He’s better … actually, I like Rampage a lot. I think he’s really funny and charismatic. But I still want to beat his ass some day…. [My goal is to] get Anderson Silva’s record for the most consecutive wins in the UFC, with nine, keep the belt and then break that record…. I’d love to fight Anderson Silva.”
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans — who has eight wins in nine attempts inside the Octagon (the “other” fight was a draw against Tito Ortiz — has no qualms defending his 205-pound title for the first time against Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 on May 23, because as he puts it, the undefeated Brazilian is more deserving. “Sugar” was expected to defend his belt against former division champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, however, he had to turn down the bout because of nagging injuries. He is expected to take on the winner of Evans-Machida later in 2009, which would no doubt be a blockbuster pay-per-view (PPV) event … especially if Evans can come out on top. And if Machida and possibly Jackson were not enough to handle, Evans also has middleweight champion Anderson Silva — who also competes at light heavyweight — in his cross hairs. Talk about a tough road ahead … can he pull it off?
Howard Davis Jr.: Chuck Liddell Should Take a Year Off, Retirement Decision Should Be His to Make
American Top Team boxing coach and Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. spoke with me about his work with Chuck Liddell prior to his UFC 97 loss against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Contrary to what some people believe, Davis said he really did work with Liddell for about two and a half months, and while he didn’t change his style he did try to add a couple tools to Liddell’s game. Here Davis talks about what Liddell’s recent loss means for his career, and whether he thinks the former UFC champ should call it quits like Dana White is insisting he do. He also touches on the addictive “drug” of being a world champion fighter, and why he thinks Liddell has seemed more vulnerable in recent bouts – and it’s not because he’s getting old.
Dana White: The man, the sport, and the money
Former street tough Dana White rescued the Ultimate Fighting Championship and transformed the mixed martial arts organization into the hottest sport in America. Get out of his way because he's not stopping now. And besides, you just might get hurt.
Most corporate titans don't look like this. It's hard to picture Donald Trump rolling into a shareholder meeting sporting a fresh shiner from one of his employees. And you definitely won't see Warren Buffett tossing up 300 pounds on the bench press. Thirty-eight-year-old Ultimate Fighting Championship(UFC) president Dana White may now have the boardroom cred of other business bigwigs, but with his round-shouldered build and two faint but permanent red lines along the edges of his nose (courtesy of a sparring partner), he mostly resembles just another fighter. And that's perfectly fine with him.
Indeed, White's tenure as the guiding force behind the rise of the UFC as the newest "fastest-growing sport in America" is best described as a knock-down, drag-out brawl in which he's now the undisputed champion. Nearly worthless and tainted by controversy less than a decade ago (the sport was not sanctioned by most states), White has helped elevate mixed martial arts (MMA) into the mainstream and transformed the UFC, the first MMA organization, into the biggest—and most surprising—success story in sports.
Acquired in 2001 for $2 million by White and other investors, the UFC now fills arenas in North America and Europe, produces a hit cable series (Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter) and has smashed the all-time pay-per-view record. In 2006, the UFC generated more than $200 million in pay-per-view revenue, outperforming boxing and pro wrestling. Last year, Time magazine estimated the UFC's value to be over $1 billion.
MMA Quick Quote: Tom Atencio walks the walk, Dana White talks the talk
“I want to thank Prize Fight as well as Fight Force for putting on this card. I’ve been seen in front of the cameras before as far as the business side, but it’s time to fight. I’m doing something Dana White won’t do and that’s fight. He talks like a fighter, so why doesn’t he fight? I’m stepping up to the plate and win, lose or draw I attempted it. I don’t ever think he would fight.”
– Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio takes a rare stab at his UFC counterpart, Dana White, during the press conference to promote his upcoming welterweight fight against Randy Hedderick at “Ultimate Chaos,” which is scheduled for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss., on June 27. This will not be the first time that the 42-year-old steps into the ring — Atencio made his mixed martial arts debut back in 2005 and has competed sporadically ever since. He currently runs Affliction MMA, staging two major pay-per-view (PPV) events within the last year. During that time White — who was at one time an aspiring boxer — has been vocal about the “t-shirt” guys wasting gobs of money and running a poor operation. Atencio, for the most part, has bit his lip … until now.
Sean Sherk not overlooking Frank Edgar at UFC 98 en route to another title shot
He’s got a pretty good name. He’s done real well in the UFC; I’ve seen him in the top 10 before. I think it’s another step closer to a title shot, which is my main goal … I’m not looking for an easy title shot. I know Kenny’s not easy but if Kenny wins, I don’t want a shot just because I already beat Kenny. Give me BJ again, man. BJ beat me and for me that’s motivation, especially with everything before that lead into that fight with all the drama and stuff like that … I just want the best fighter to win [at UFC 101], and hopefully if I do my job on May 23, hopefully I can be next in line for a title shot … I mean Frankie is really tough; I never overlook anybody. I never have in my entire career and I’m not going to start now … as soon as you start overlooking guys, that’s when you run into a problem and I’m not going to do that.
Former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk talks about getting another crack at the 155-pound strap he coughed up following a controversial drug test that pegged him as a steroid user. “The Muscle Shark” also anticipates a very stiff test at UFC 98 “Evans vs. Machida” in the form of lightweight standout Frank Edgar. A win could put him in line for a title shot against either BJ Penn or Kenny Florian following their championship bout at UFC 101 in August. Either way, it’s a rematch for Sherk. The question is, who would you rather see — Sherk vs. “The Prodigy” or Sherk vs. “KenFlo?”
Michael Bisping Is a Better Coach, Fighter, and Lover Than Dan Henderson
Okay, maybe he hasn't said he's better in bed. But Michael Bisping has been laying into his Ultimate Fighter rival coach Dan Henderson lately, for a number of other reasons. First there was this interesting bit in his new TUF blog for UFC.com:
As you saw in the episode, I made good on my promise to ensure my team were at peak fitness. The footage of us running through Vegas was taken early in the morning. Basically, each team had two sessions in the gym later in the day so, in order to make sure Team UK were getting their cardio in but without affecting their ability to train in the gym, we ran at 8am.
Some people were surprised I was going to the house at 8am to run with them, but that’s the kind of coach I wanted to be. Plus, under the rules, Team UK – or Team USA for that matter – couldn’t leave the house except with me or to be taken to the gym. So if I didn’t run with them, they’d not be running at all. Without me going there and actually getting my guys, they would have no roadwork, and as a coach that wasn’t an option. As far as I know, Dan didn’t take his team out running or doing any cardio except what my team dubbed “Ultimate Frisbee”, which I think says it all. That was Team USA’s cardio training.
Bisping also slammed Hendo's understated television persona and excuse-making:
I respect Dan and what he’s done in his great career, and I understand his gracious sentiment of “I’ll do my talking in the ring” but, ahem, he did sign up for a 12 week TV series. As far as I understood it, talking is kinda an important part of this audio-visual medium we call “television” but if things were left to Dan, TUF 9 would have had to been broadcast as a silent movie.
One of the few times Dan woke up was to moan about his team making weight “three times” for the fight whereas my team had enjoyed two weeks between their eliminator and the first fight. Dan was certainly getting his excuses in early here...ONE member of Team USA — Miller — had to make weight twice close together. One eliminator and one fight makes two times, not three as Dan tried to say.