The UFC conducted a conference call for the media today to help promote UFC 74 next Saturday in Las Vegas. UFC president Dana White, Randy Couture, Gabriel Gonzaga, Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck all participated in the call.
Here’s a recap of some of the more newsworthy items that were discussed:
- Georges St. Pierre came off very well during the initial portion of the call. He said all the right things by giving Matt Serra his just due (just like he did immediately after UFC 69) and saying that we wouldn’t be seeing the old GSP vs. Koscheck next Saturday, but a brand new one. He even revealed that he’s been seeing a sports psychologist and that one thing he’s learned is that the best fighter doesn’t win a fight, the fighter who fights the best fight wins. I’ve been very critical of GSP in recent weeks but I have to give him a lot of credit for going to a sports psychologist. It shows he takes winning seriously and wants to fight to his full athletic potential. My only complaint is that towards the latter portion of the call the excuses (mental preparation, physical issues, and illnesses in his family) came out again. In defense of GSP, he was being asked followup questions and he was probably just trying to provide some detail. But he was a true sportsman at the start of the call and sounds determined. While I’m sticking to my prediction that Koscheck will beat him, I am preparing for a lot of “I told you so” e-mails and messages.
- Dana stated on the record that Brandon Vera has a new deal with the UFC. During a followup question he was asked about a possible first opponent and he said it would “probably” be Tim Sylvia. Nothing is official though and Sylvia has to deal with staph infection in addition to his recovery from back surgery. Stay tuned.
- White said that the UFC and Vera never had contract issues and that it was Vera and his old management that had the contract issues. He took a shot at EliteXC promoter Gary Shaw for making comments about Vera last year when there were reports that terms between UFC and Vera were icy.
- When asked about Andrei Arlovski’s status, Dana said “The Pitbull” would be fighting soon and that he didn’t know exactly when or against whom because there are so many matches that are being worked on right now. My thoughts are that if Vera is fighting Sylvia then why not Nogueira vs. Arlovski?
- What would a UFC conference call be without some talk about the HBO deal? Someone jokingly referenced Dana’s comments in the past that a deal with HBO would have been done in time to show a summer event. Dana laughed it off and said something to the effect of, “Well, now it will be signed in time for a winter event.” He still believes it will get done and even so far as went to guarantee it will get done before the year is out. When Dana was asked about why it’s taking so long he said that he’s probably the reason it’s taking so long. A question about what kind of events would be telecast on HBO was brought up. Dana backed off from previous stories that the UK broadcasts would be televised by HBO. While Dana said cards from Europe could possibly be televised on HBO, shows from the States will be telecast as well. He said the HBO cards will pretty much be just like the PPVs.
- Dana said he screwed up by having UFC 70 televised live. He said that UFC fans are used to watching UFC events on Saturday nights and showing the card in the afternoon wasn’t the way to go. As such, don’t expect the cards from Europe to be televised live.
- In regard to Wanderlei Silva, Dana would not confirm that he has signed with the UFC. He did say that he wants to sign Silva but it’s not a done deal and that he doesn’t want to talk about deals that aren’t done yet.
- Fedor was brought up but there wasn’t any new news. Dana once again said that if Fedor was signed he would be able to compete for the UFC heavyweight title right away.<p>
- Dana was asked about if he had any big announcements for the call or for UFC 74 planned. He said there are no big announcements planned unless something crazy happens.
- The dead horse that is known as the steroid issue was brought up (and I’m not blaming anyone for asking about it) and Dana got very animated repeating a lot of the same comments that appeared in Steve Sievert’s recent Houston Chronicle blog. Dana really believes that government testing is pretty stringent and that if the government tested NFL players on gameday the same way fighters are rested before a fight that there would be no more football. He said the existing penalties are harsh and that fighters who use steroids when they already know that there will be consequences are “morons.”
- Randy was asked about why he’s been able to stay successful when other legends like Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock are no longer as efficient as they once were. Randy was uncomfortable with the comparisons but did say that one big difference is that he’s remained active and hasn’t subjected himself to prolonged periods where he was away from fighting.
- Koscheck was complementary towards St. Pierre but also confident. He didn’t really want to get too much into strategy so we’ll have to wait and see what he has planned for UFC 74. He was asked if he believes he can put GSP on his back and Koscheck basically said yes.
- It sounds like no decisions about the lightweight title will be made until after Sean Sherk has his hearing before the California State Athletic Commission in October.
- Dana did not rip the IFL. That’s big news. But I guess he didn’t rip them only because he was never asked.