Monday, February 26, 2007

Dana White: "I'll have Fedor someday"

By Mike Chiappetta

The UFC freight train to success keeps on rolling ahead. The next stop on the ride is Columbus, Ohio, were the organization is expecting its largest audience ever, as almost 19,000 fans will pack the Nationwide Arena on Saturday, March 3 to see a card headlined by the return of "The Natural" Randy Couture, as he challenges UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.

But the heavyweight division that has suddenly been inundated with the return of Couture, the arrival of Mirko Cro Cop and the acquisition of Fabricio Werdrum could someday soon boast the man who is considered by many to be the best in the world: Fedor Emelianenko.

When asked about the upstart Bodog Fight organization and Emelianenko on a recent conference call, White bristled at the new group.

"I'm after all the best fighters in the world…," he said. "I'll have Fedor someday."

The Russian mixed martial artist reportedly signed a one-fight deal with Bodog, and is scheduled to take on Matt Lindland on April 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

White's comment on the PRIDE heavyweight champ was one among many that highlighted the explosive growth of the UFC, as he reiterated time and again that he is targeting all of the world's best fighters to join his group.

"I'm going to get them all," he said. "I'm getting everybody; they're all going to be with us."

Just days after PRIDE put on what was roundly praised as an excellent fight card in Las Vegas, White asserted UFC's supremacy in the US and around the world.

"What's happening now, is that with us going international now, and going after that talent, Tim [Sylvia] is finally in a position where a lot of those questions are going to be answered," White said. "A lot of people think that the mystique over in Japan, they're bigger, better, making more money. All of it's bull----. It's all a big myth and now we're in a place where we can prove it. Look at Nick Diaz… Diaz was cut by us because he lost so many times and he just beat Gomi who everyone thought was unstoppable and the best guy in that weight division. Not only did Nick Diaz beat him, but BJ Penn destroyed him."

He also shot back against PRIDE claims that UFC backed down in matching up its light-heayvweight champ Chuck Liddell with PRIDE's Wanderlei Silva, a longtime middleweight champ until losing last Saturday to Dan Henderson.

"I've been trying to make that Wanderlei Silva fight for Chuck for years," he said. "And that got these goofs running around saying I wouldn't make the fight and I'm the reason it won't happen. That's bull----. I've always been willing to prove we have the best fighters in the world. Now it's unfolding anyway. It's happening."

It appears that even though that's a fight White has talked about for years, it likely won't happen now with Silva having lost two straight fights.

"I'm pissed off he didn't lose to Chuck," White said. "They threw away the biggest fight in MMA history. Not only are they No. 2, they're not the brightest bulbs on the porch, either."

The two organizations have been locked in a war of words lately, with PRIDE declaring its global dominance at its most recent show, a declaration Randy Couture took exception to.

"I was at the event and they took several shots at the UFC," Couture said. "I think if you have to tell everybody that you have the best fighters in the world, then you probably don't.


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