(One more round for old time’s sake?)
Though Dana White was hoping he could announce the signing of Fedor Emelianenko at this afternoon’s much-anticipated UFC press conference, it was not meant to be. DW said he did everything he could possibly do to get Emelianenko into the Octagon and offered him an "amazing" deal, but M-1′s dogged desire for co-promotion sunk the negotiations, which made Dana "fucking miserable." Still, there were some major announcements to share, which are sure to get MMA fans talking:
— UFC 103‘s main event has been thankfully changed to Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort. The match will be contested at light-heavyweight. Dan Henderson will likely get the next crack at Anderson Silva‘s middleweight belt, possibly followed by the winner of the Nate Marquardt/Demian Maia match at UFC 102.
— Tito Ortiz (remember that guy?) is back in the UFC, and plans to fight before the end of the year. Mark Coleman has been named as a possible opponent.
— Ortiz on Strikeforce: "Strikeforce has no challenges. If I fought Frank Shamrock again it would be the first death in MMA history."
— Ortiz on his new UFC deal: "You’ll never hear me complain about money again." We’re happy for you, Tito. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
— ESPN will begin carrying UFC programming in high def for the U.K. and Ireland.
— The UFC will continue to produce its own TV and not hand over the production to a network.
— The UFC is shooting for Vancouver in 2010, and intends to go everywhere, including Russia. UFC 100 apparently had 25 million viewers in Mexico. Ortiz wants to headline a card in Mexico City.
— Dana says he’s still working on another major deal that will "change the UFC forever."
FiveOuncesofPain adds the following: According to White, Paul Daley, Ben Rothwell, Chase Gormley, Paul Buentello, Dan Lauzon, Rafaello “Tractor” Oliveira has all been signed to UFC contracts. Additionally, Mark Hominick, L.C. Davis, and Javier Vazquez have all been signed to WEC contracts. White indicated that more additions from the Affliction roster could be made. When asked about Affliction heavyweights Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, White said he had no interest in re-signing either at this time.