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Dana White talks Mir switching camps, Rousey fighting in Vegas and more

UFC president ‘wouldn’t be stunned’ if Chael Sonnen’s fight next week was his last

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Stephen Sylvanie / Special to the Sun

UFC President Dana White speaks to members of the media during a press conference at City Hall to announce his induction into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013.

Frank Mir smirked and downplayed an exchange he shared with Daniel Cormier Thursday afternoon.

The two heavyweights, slated to meet in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC on Fox 7, had words with each other when they posed for a stare-down photo in the bowels of the HP Pavilion. Mir might as well have come clean because UFC President Dana White was all too willing to dish on the showdown.

“‘You’re in big, big trouble.’ That’s what (Cormier) said to Frank,” recalled White, who stood right behind the two heavyweights. “Frank just kept staring at him.”

White spills a handful of secrets — some as frivolous as what was said between two opponents; others as meaningful as upcoming headlining fights — to reporters every time he attends a press conference before a major event.

Here's a rundown of the most notable news and nuggets White shared ahead of UFC on Fox 7, which airs on network television live at 5 p.m. Saturday after a preliminary card on FX, below.

Mir’s switch garners approval

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Frank Mir weighs in for UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Friday, May 25, 2012.

If anyone were to protest Mir’s move to Albuquerque, N.M., to train with Greg Jackson’s team, on the surface it would have been White.

The UFC’s leading man has a long history of bashing mixed martial arts’ most prominent trainer, infamously calling Jackson “a (expletive) sport killer” last year. But White showed a different perspective when it came to Mir, a 33-year old lifelong Vegas resident, flocking to Jackson.

“I think it’s really good for him to get out and train with different people, get pushed harder and train with guys who actually make him work,” White said. “He wasn’t working hard in Vegas. He had his own little thing going on and he was cruising through workouts.”

Mir admitted as much to reporters, saying he had never conditioned or sparred before a fight quite as much as he did this time. He reminisced on only training twice a week before some of his earlier fights in the UFC.

The distractions, however, dissipated when Mir got away from home. He trained twice a day for long hours with Jackson’s team and only rested in between sessions.

“It was the right thing to do going in against an animal like Cormier,” White said.

Chael Sonnen has options after UFC 159

On several nights last winter, Chael Sonnen was inescapable for a sports fan flipping through channels.

Sonnen starred as a coach on the 17th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” on FX while concurrently hosting UFC programming on Fuel TV. That’s without even mentioning when he made appearances as an analyst during Fox-televised fight cards.

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Chael Sonnen arrives at the 2013 Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.

“Fox loves this guy,” White said. “He’d be doing every program on Fox if he had time to do it. They’d have him doing baseball, football, all these sports.”

Sonnen has plenty going on even before getting to his fighting career, which continues April 27 in the main event of UFC 159 against Jon Jones. It’s made White wonder what the 36-year old would do next if he failed to take the light heavyweight championship belt away from Jones.

Sonnen -- who’s currently a 6-to-1 underdog against Jones -- will have fought for three titles after twice falling to beat middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva.

“He’s made a lot of money,” White said. “He’s going to make a lot of money on Saturday. He’s got a full-blown career on Fox. I’m going to tell you right now, I’m not even kidding: That guy might start doing other things. He might even do his own talk show on Fox.”

“Let’s see what happens. I wouldn’t be shocked if he retired if he lost.”

Ronda Rousey’s next title defense likely for Las Vegas

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Ronda Rousey celebrates her win against Liz Carmouche after their UFC 157 women's bantamweight championship mixed martial arts match in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Rousey won the first womens bout in UFC history, forcing Carmouche to tap out in the first round. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

White confirmed what the UFC schedule hinted: Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano will “probably” headline Las Vegas’ annual New Years Eve weekend card in December.

Zingano earned a shot at Rousey’s women’s bantamweight title after beating Miesha Tate at “The Ultimate Fighter” 17 finale last Saturday at Mandalay Bay. Starting the last week of May, Rousey and Zingano will descend upon Vegas to coach on the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter”.

The 18th iteration of the reality show will air during the fall and conclude in early December, setting the stage for the coaches’ fight to fall on the last pay-per-view card of the year. White had no hesitation in setting aside one of the most prestigious annual events for women still new to the octagon.

“I think the women have proven right out of the gates that they can headline a card,” White said. “That first fight with Ronda kicked (butt). Not just the fight, but on the business side too.”

Dan Hardy still in limbo

Mir was supposed to be joined on the UFC on Fox 7 main card with old Las Vegas-based training partner Dan Hardy.

But the UFC pulled Hardy from his main-card opening bout against Matt Brown -- replacing him with 23-year old Canadian Jordan Mein -- when its doctors discovered the welterweight veteran suffered from a rare heart condition. A month after the change, Hardy is no closer to getting the issue resolved.

“Lorenzo (Fertitta) and I called Dan Hardy a couple weeks ago and got him set up with the best cardiologist in the country,” White said. “He didn’t want to go. He’s in serious denial right now, either denial or just afraid to hear what’s really going on”

Hardy was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which sends extra electricity through the heart. He had never experienced any problems with the disorder through 35 professional bouts.

White remains hopeful Hardy will take him up on the offer to get a second opinion.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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