Dana White Conference Call – Live Updates

We’ll be covering the much-anticipated UFC conference call with Dana White on Friday. The media call will likely address the rumors swirling around the negotiations between Zuffa and Fedor Emelianenko, and White is expected to reveal several bigger news items as well — including a possible network television deal with ESPN/ABC.

It’s also expected that White will announce the return of former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.

We’re having severe Twitter troubles, so we’re going to live blog this instead.

  • The press conference starts in eight minutes. Dana is expected to announce the return of Tito Ortiz to the Octagon, and rumors are swirling of a major television deal with ESPN and ABC.
  • They’re hyping up this press conference on UFC.com. Rumors were going around that it would be streamed live on the site, but I can’t find anything regarding that. They do have an update saying that the news would be posted shortly after the call concludes.
  • And here we go.
  • Dana says his job is to bring fans the best fights and the best fighters. He wanted to make a deal happen with Fedor badly. They tried everything they could do to get him into the UFC. It’s not happening, at least not right now. They were willing to give up everything except co-promotion. They offered him the best deal Fedor will get in mixed martial arts.  Fedor did not want to sign with the UFC.
  • Regarding the Franklin/Henderson fight. Too much backlash. They signed Vitor Belfort and he will face Rich Franklin at UFC 103. Dan Henderson will face Anderson Silva for the middleweight title next.
  • ESPN in the UK deal is for three years. UFC 101 will air August 13th in high def for free.
  • Tito Ortiz is in the conference call. He’s back in the UFC and started to train. Will be in the light heavyweight division. He and Tito have squashed everything and are moving forward.
  • No network television deal. They are starting to take questions now.
  • Paul Daley and Vitor Belfort are locked up along with several others. They have about 10 guys under contract already are in talks with 8-9 more.
  • Tito says he wanted to face the best and rips on Babalu and Frank Shamrock, says he would murder Shamrock and it would be the first death in UFC history. He and Dana have started a new relationship and they are moving forward. Says he will retire in the UFC. Says his first fight will probably be around November or December. He’s working with Freddie Roach on boxing.
  • The Belfort/Franklin fight will be at 205. Belfort wants to fight at heavyweight at some point.
  • Tito’s first fight will likely be against Mark Coleman. Tito says thanks to Dana for informing him.
  • Tito says he is going to get the world title again.
  • Dana is on a “bury the hatchet” tour.
  • Dana reiterates that Dan Henderson will get the next title shot at Anderson Silva.
  • Dana is asked what co-promotion means. Dana says “how the hell are they going to co-promote?” Basically says M-1 wants half of their business for the best heavyweight in the world. Says that crap might work in Russia but not here.
  • They are continuing to work on television deals internationally, including Russia. Says they are going into Japan.
  • Talks about how the top guys in MMA tend to go long periods of time without losing but they are fighting the top guys.  People were sick of that in boxing because the top guys didn’t fight other top fighters.
  • Tito says boxing is like checkers, but MMA is like chess.
  • Dana says nobody wants to see Mayweather/Marquez, but yet they’re doing it anyway and trying to force it down our throats. Everyone wants to see Pacquiao/Mayweather.
  • Talks about Marc Ratner and how respected he is in an industry where everybody hates everybody.
  • Says they are coming to Vancouver in 2010. They seem to be going over the entire world in 2010.
  • Meltzer asks about the battle over production control. Dana says it’s not an issue anymore. They have multiple suitors for a major television deal. He is confident they are going to have a deal very, very soon.
  • Dana talks about having to jump off the Mandalay Bay because of the UFC 100 buyrate hitting 1.5 million. He’s talking to Mandalay Bay and he’s going to do it.
  • Tito says he hasn’t gone into a fight feeling 100% since the first Ken Shamrock fight. It got worse with each fight and was the worst during the Griffin fight. He’s 100% now and ready to face top competition.
  • Talks about another Tito/Chuck fight. Says he doesn’t know if that will happen.
  • Dana says he wants to make a deal and will always want to make a deal with Fedor. Dana was extremely confident that they were going to get the deal done and did everything possible. Co-promotion is the only hangup to the entire deal.
  • Tito says if he dominates the light heavyweight division he would like to move up and face Brock Lesnar, but concedes that Lesnar would be a giant test.
  • Asked about the Los Angeles deal that would “change the UFC forever”. Dana says they are still working on it and they are very, very close to getting the deal finished.
  • Dana says Affliction was very much like the Tito deal. They’ve buried the hatchet with Affliction. Dana even buried the hatchet with Tom Atencio. Says it’s over.
  • Dana says he heard plenty from Bud Light after Lesnar’s UFC 100 speech.
  • UFC 100 was a huge success in Mexico City. They pulled in 25 million viewers for UFC 100 and 18 million for an episode of Unleashed last week. UFC beat boxing and a soccer match by the Mexico national team. Okay, that’s big.
  • Tito wants to fight in Mexico City and be the headliner.
  • Dana says there is no compromise on the co-promotion. Says again that they did everything that they could possibly do and that the deal they offered was insane. Asks why the hell he would let anyone else co-promote with them. I would say the exact same thing. White mentions the Fertitta’s gaming license and that they cannot do business with people from other countries in the way M-1 wants to do it. Dana was miserable that they couldn’t get the deal done with Fedor and were willing to do it at any cost except co-promotion. Says again that they don’t want to make a deal with UFC.
  • Tito says he won’t be ready in time for the October show at the Staples Center. Would rather wait an extra month or two and make sure he doesn’t get injured again. Would love to fight in LA but wants to make sure he’s careful about the comeback.
  • They bent on everything except co-promotion.
  • Dana says he was the nicest version of himself ever during the negotiations.
  • Dana says Vadim didn’t care at all about anything they had to offer.
  • Dana says the best in the world are the people who constantly challenge themselves three times a year with fights against other top fighters. Fedor doesn’t callenge himself and is proving that he doesn’t care about challenging himself.
  • Dana has a standing offer out to Fedor and it will continue to be open. The fans want to see Fedor vs. Brock and he desperately wants to make it happen. Says he is always available. Says Fedor will not fight the best in the world and thus cannot be considered the best in the world.
  • He and Tito sat down in Tito’s home and worked out the emotional stuff, and then made a deal.
  • Dana says he doesn’t want to talk about Fedor anymore. Says they offered him a “f*cking assload” of money. It sounds like the original deal that was floated by Carmichael Dave was actually correct.
  • Dana says Tito is very important to the history of the company.
  • Tito says he was very close to a deal with Strikeforce, but it came down to competition. Says again that he would kill Babalu and Frank Shamrock and perhaps even Cung Le. Says he’s going to get the belt back.
  • Dana says a deal with ABC wouldn’t change the PPV business model. He says if they get a network deal, they are putting huge fights on free television.
  • Remember to follow us on Twitter for more details.
  • Tito says Coleman is a tough test.
  • Dana says he and Tito may disagree in the future, but they will never go down the road they’ve been down already. They are at a place where they can work through any disagreements.
  • And that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining me for the live blog today.

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