White Promising Big Things For Friday Presser

July 27, 2009

In speaking on ESPN Radio Friday Night, UFC President Dana White indicated that he had business trips ahead for this week, but a presser planned for this Friday would yield a plethora of big announcements. While such grand pronouncements have yielded mediocre results in the past, let us take a look at some of the possible outcomes that will be revealed on Friday.

One possible announcement that isn’t too far beyond the realm of possibility is the introduction of a new weight class. The UFC and Joe Rogan specifically were talking up the prospect of the UFC having a 195 division around the time of the Wandy vs Ace Franklin match-up. The timing for an announcement in this regard would be ideal. The Association of Boxing Commissions is holding their annual conference this coming week in New Orleans and tweaking the process during the week could yield an announcement on Friday. The ABC introduced multiple additional weight classes last year but received a could shoulder to their proposals. The big three commissions (California, Nevada, New Jersey) that carry a lot of the weight didn’t seem very receptive, the sport’s biggest promoter (the UFC) was not giving it a second thought at the time, and they got a generally chilly reception from fans. A year in time has made the addition of a 195 class more attractive to the UFC. With a good number of fighters (like Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, possibly a newly signed Vitor Belfort) still having name value at the PPV window but lesser chances at UFC gold at 185 and 205, the institution of a 195 weight class would give the UFC another belt to push and these fighters anther shot at competitive relevance. Where the UFC goes on the 195 topic, the big three commissions will follow, and the ABC along with them… this merely being a case of follow the money.

Another possible consequence of the presser will be the announcement of new signings to the UFC. President Dana White has recently made public his smoothed over relations with former nemesis Tito Ortiz. Vitor Belfort and Fedor Emilianenko are also targets that could be possibly be announced as signings, though the FEdor one my be a longer term negotiation. The level of animus to this point between M-1 and the UFC make me think that the chances of a resolution in a little over a week aren’t good. A more protracted negotiation, however, may yield a better chance of seeing the Russian star being able to come to terms. The Vitor Belfort Signing is much more likely. White commented very publicly on his intentions towards Belfort, even before he was contractually free from Affliction. Belfort, for his part, has stated in the past he would like to eventually make an Octagon return. With two parties intent on a deal, the Belfort deal is highly probable and a match up for the Dallas card could be in the offing.

Almost assured will be a strange bedfellows introduction and elaboration on the UFC deal with Affliction. The public face of Affliction, Tom Atencio, is a safe bet to make an appearance but for the sake of entertainment I’m hoping for a Dana White, Todd Beard moment on the dais. The rumors we are hearing indicate Affliction giving up a good chunk of the back end to re-enter the Octagon, similar in concept to the UFC deals with CageFighter and Tapout.

Chatter on a possible TV deal has also arisen lately but these deals always have to be handicapped as a bit of a long shot. A meeting of mutual interest between the UFC and their myriad of romanced TV partners has always remained elusive. Issues of control, ownership, and personalities have derailed possible deals that have been have linked the UFC to HBO, Fox, NBC, and CBS. ABC has been the latest to enter the UFC network carousel and maybe their ride will have a happier ending but such an announcement on Friday would mark the biggest surprise out of all the options mentioned above.

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