Thursday, March 8, 2007

Jerry Millen On PRIDE vs. UFC, Dana White [Pt. 2]

By Luis Cruz

The following is part two of our multi-part exclusive interview with PRIDE Vice President Jerry Millen. The interview was conducted by Luis Cruz of on March 7, 2007.

For those who missed part one or want to read it again, click here.

Luis Cruz of Now let's talk real quick about the upcoming Lightweight Grand Prix.
Jerry Millen: Yeah. I believe that's May 20th.
Jerry Millen: Mm hm. Correct. It'll be live in Japan. Right. Now, Gilbert Melendez I know is one of the participants. Is there anybody else in at this point?
Jerry Millen: Yeah, there's a bunch of guys. I can't say who yet because, you know, they're still negotiating and trying to get some things taken care of, but I know some other organizations are doing some things with Lightweight fighters right now [laughs] that I'll tell ya ...if you wanna see Lightweight fighters, if you wanna see the best of the Lightweight fighters - they're going to be in that tournament on May 20th. That's where you'll see the best Lightweight fighters. So would it be possible for other organizations to bring fighters in?
Jerry Millen: Oh, you know what? We're always open. Especially the UFC, man. Anytime they want to step up and bring a fighter, you know, whether it's their champion, non-champion, we're open - you know? We've always been accused of not wanting to give fighters [to the UFC], but that's a bunch of bull. Has PRIDE actually approached UFC about this tournament?
Jerry Millen: I'm not sure if we've approached them about this specific tournament. I know we've approached them about other fights that they've declined. So, I'm not sure we could approach them about this one. Alright. Now, get into the matchmaking of PRIDE. Who exactly decides who's going to fight who?
Jerry Millen: You know, Sakikibara makes most of the decisions, but he takes input. We have a huge Japanese staff and a lot of people on the inside of MMA in PRIDE. We all give our input. It was my idea to bring [Frank] Trigg in to fight because I went to Hawaii and watched him beat Jason "Mayhem" Miller. I thought Trigg's our commentator and he can still fight - why not have Trigg fight? He did and he won. Nick Diaz, I wanted to bring Nick Diaz in. We brought him in and Nick won. Dan Henderson wanted Vanderlei Silva. You know, Dan and I talked and he said, "Jerry, I really want that fight against Vanderlei Silva." So, you know, I through that into the ring, you know? Why wasn't it [Antonio Rogerio] Nogueira and Vanderlei Silva fighting [on that show] for the Middleweight title?
Jerry Millen: Umm, not sure man. They just decided on Henderson and Vanderlei, you know? Not sure. Now honestly, how many people - I don't know if it was a board meeting or whatever, but how many people expected ...I don't even want to try and pronounce his name, Sokoudjou. How many people actually thought he was going to win that fight?
Jerry Millen: I don't know. According to the odds in Vegas, not many I guess. [laughs]. They were well against him [laughs].
Jerry Millen: Right. You know, it's just like I said man: any given day anything can happen and you've seen it. I mean right there - typical example. Nobody in the world thought that was gonna happen. We're talking Rogerio man. This guy trains with the Cuban boxing team. Who thought that was gonna happen? Nobody! But it did and that's what makes this sport so great man. You can be banging a guy up and then he takes you down and chokes you out, or vice-versa. A guy could be smoked and then all of a sudden chokes somebody out. That's what makes this fight-game so exciting is anything can happen at anytime. Now outside of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, most people thought Nogueira was the number one contender to Vanderlei's title. Now how much did that fight put a damper on PRIDE's future plan for that?
Jerry Millen: For the Middleweight title? Right.
Jerry Millen: Umm, you know - none. I don't think ...why would it put a damper on it? I mean nobody thought Dan was gonna win. Well, not no one. A lot of people didn't think Dan would win this fight and Dan came out there and surprised everybody. Umm, where do we go from here? Who knows? I do know Dan is going to be busy defending two belts, which I think is great. Dan deserves it. Dan's a great guy and a great fighter and he beat Vanderlei Silva on that day. But as far as Nogueira is concerned, does that drop him down the rankings in PRIDE or does it mean...
Jerry Millen: know, we don't have "rankings" I don't think. Rogerio is a great fighter. The Nogueira's are just phenomenal, so I don't think that fight - in my opinion, I don't think that fight hurts him at all. I mean, you know, that's how a fight goes. Sometimes you have a bad day man. I know, I'm just saying...
Jerry Millen: ...not taking anything away from him at all. Not to take anything away from Sokoudjou either - he came out like a monster. Good for him. He's a good guy man, he's from Africa and this is only his fourth professional fight. He's a real humble kid who trains down there with Dan Henderson. Really good guy man, he's a really good guy and I think he's got a great future in PRIDE. He's straight up from African, I mean he lived in a village in Africa. He was in your typical African scenerio you would assume - he lived that. So you know, I think he'll do great things for us. Especially after a few more fights. Now honestly what's more likely for Dan Henderson - a Silva rematch or Shogun getting a title shot?
Jerry Millen: You know, I don't know. I don't play a part in that, you know? What do I wanna see? Hmm, I don't know man, either one of those fights would be great. You know, Vanderlei Silva was sick the night before the [Dan Henderson] fight, so ...but there's no excuses. Henderson won that fight, hands down and Vanderlei won't make any excuses and Vanderlei wouldn't cancel that fight because Vanderlei's a warrior. And he knew how important that fight was to Vanderlei Silva, how important that fight was to PRIDE and more importantly how important that fight was for the fans. I couldn't tell he was sick personally, he didn't seem to be to me. But I think that punch would have knocked him out regardless.
Jerry Millen: Yeah but he was gassing and he was definitely not the Vanderlei Silva I know. I saw him two days before the press conference and I could tell that he was sick. I could tell that he wasn't well. I could tell that. But Vanderlei Silva is a warrior man. He's not gonna not fight, so you know? He'll just live to fight another day. And Dan Henderson came out ready man. Dan was ready. Dan wanted that fight, he told me he wanted it and I tried to help him get that fight. He got it and he took full advantage of it. So, kudos to Dan. Absolutely. First multiple-division champion in a big organization like that.
Jerry Millen: Yeah [laughs]. Now...[laughs], go ahead and talk about Dana White. You guys are always tight.
Jerry Millen: Oh, there's nothing to say about ...I mean Dana White, I mean, honestly he's the president of a great MMA company, you know? I think he's childesh and I think sometimes he acts like a bitch. Umm, I don't think he's well educated, you know? But what do you expect from a guy who used to be a bell boy and an aerobics instructor? My thing with him is, you know, he wants to talk about me, but he has nothing to say. He has, I mean ...I'd love to debate Dana White all day. Now he recently was just on Sirius Satellite and he said something about you not having a job soon.
Jerry Millen: Yeah [laughs]. You know normally I wouldn't even talk about him because it's just so stupid. I mean, if you wanna talk about Dana White, he was on my friend Ferrell on Howard 101. I've been friends with Ferrell for twelve years and he was on that radio show and he said a lot of things that showed how childesh he was. And Dana White now thinks he's a rock star and it's not about that. Dana signs autographs and has bodyguards. It's not about Dana White. It's not about a television show. It's about the fighters. That's what this sport is about. When it comes down to it - it's about the fighters. Dana White did not put MMA where it is today, he didn't put UFC where it is today. The fighters put MMA and UFC and PRIDE where it is today. So, he wants to be a rock star - he was an aerobics instructor five years ago. He's got a little bit of fame now, you know? He's got a little bit of money and he's the nerd that you knew in high school that like, you know, invented the white out and now he's got some money and he's trying to play the role of the rock star. And that's cool, you know? More power to him. But if he ever wants to sit down and debate with me about the fight game, I'd love to. Because he's the one that doesn't make the fights happen that the fans wants to see and if you watch him in his interviews, he even says "oh, I can't believe they had Dan Henderson fight Vanderlei Silva, they don't protect their champions." Man, PRIDE lets the fighters fight. That's what we're here for. We're here to find out who is the world's best fighter in each weight division. We don't protect anybody because we're here to fight. This isn't the playground this is the fight, and he admitted that he protects his fighters. So he protects them - why? Why do you think Dana White protects his fighters? I don't know. I wouldn't say he "protects" his fighters, I mean he...
Jerry Millen: ...he does that. If you go back to the interview that's what he says. He says "you gotta protect your champions. PRIDE doesn't protect their champions." So, when he says PRIDE doesn't protect their champions, what is he saying? I don't know but from what I see, their guys that for the most part get the title shots - deserve to get the title shots. I did say for the most part. There are times when...
Jerry Millen: ...ok, tell me. In the UFC. In the UFC, who would you like to see Chuck Liddell fight next - Tito Ortiz for the fifth, seventh, eighteenth time? I mean, who? Well Rampage is coming up. He's [Chuck Liddell] worked on his division man. There's not much left for him.
Jerry Millen: But I mean, two or three fights and he's talking about Tommy Morrison? Who wants to see that? I mean, who wants to see Chuck fight Tommy Morrison? I think that was Chuck that actually said that. I don't think he was being serious because...
Jerry Millen: ...well the rumors are out there. I'm just saying, you know? I mean, Dana he protects the champions and that's why they don't want Vanderlei Silva to fight Chuck Liddell because they wanna protect themselves. And you know what? Chuck Liddell is a friend of mine. Chuck Liddell is a personal friend of mine. Chuck is a great guy and a great fighter, and I know Chuck Liddell wants that fight. He wanted that fight with Vanderlei Silva - bad. Oh yeah, definitely.
Jerry Millen: Very bad. Dana White doesn't want it - why? Because he doesn't want to take a chance. Win or lose, he doesn't want to expose the American public to a better product, which is PRIDE. I mean, come on man - ask any true, hardcore MMA fan which is a better product. And I'm not saying that because I work for the company. PRIDE is just a better product. It is. It's a better product hands down. Now they both have their...
Jerry Millen: know, we're willing. We're willing to take any of their guys, give them some guys - we'll give them some champions. We'll have Fedor [Emelianenko] fight anybody. Now you guys made it clear about the best on best in a big pay-per view spectacular, but...
Jerry Millen: ...yeah, Dana won't do it. Dana is the kid that you went to school with. He was the bully on the playground that would talk shit and then run. Oh yeah! Isn't it convenient that after the fight he says, "they just blew the biggest PPV that we could have ever had. I wanted Chuck to fight Vanderlei." That's so convenient to say after the fight is over. But for like the past six months all he was saying was, I don't know if you heard the interview - him and I on Sirius Satellite radio a couple of months ago, six-months back. No, I just read a couple tidbits from it.
Jerry Millen: Yeah, there's no ...he never gives you an answer. First it was because [Mirko] CroCop beat Vanderlei. What does that have to do with anything? You already said you were gonna fight us if Chuck beat [Renato] Babalu. Then he said Vanderlei doesn't deserve it and the fight wouldn't happen. I tried to set up a meeting with Dana White, myself, Chuck Liddell and Sakikibara. Dana wouldn't take it because Chuck wanted to know why the fight wasn't happening. Dana doesn't want it to happen, but people need to understand is I do what I do, because I love this sport, ok? I don't need a mansion and a yacht. Dana White has two houses now. I don't need that. I don't need a big Escalade with spinners - that's not what I'm here for. I truly love this sport, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I don't do things I don't care about. I love the sport. I know the guys, I've been with these fighters for five years. Their camps, I've been with them and there's a lot of great guys in this sport that are trying to make a living and this sport needs to go to the next level and that's what I want to do. I want to help take this sport to the next level. Dana White wants to make money. I think Dana's main thing is it'd be helping PRIDE get exposure. I can't speak for Dana, it's just my opinion but I think he thinks it'd be helping PRIDE get exposure throughout the whole thing, all the while the UFC...
Jerry Millen: ...ok, but if you wanna say you got the best fighters in the world man... ...I agree.
Jerry Millen: You either put up or shut up, am I right or wrong? I mean either don't talk about the other organization at all - don't say anything about them. But don't say you have the best fighters if people truly know that there are others fighters out there that are just as good or better than yours, and they call you out. Because see, Dana White doesn't like to be called out. I'm calling out Dana White right now man. Bring some UFC fighters, you know? Bring 'em. You know you want one of our top guys, let's do this, but he won't do it. And he'll say, "oh the Japanese don't want it to happen. They this, they that." Dana White is full of shit. Point blank. Dana White is full of shit. Now real quick, you actually didn't wanna talk about this, but a lot of the fans wanted to know - Bas [Rutten], Stephen [Quadros] and Mauro [Ranallo], they all pointed the finger at you of why they left [PRIDE]
Jerry Millen: [laughs] What's that all about?


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