Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | 11 p.m.
Arguably the biggest grudge match in UFC history will go down Saturday night when Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans meet in the main event of UFC 114 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The two fighters, along with UFC President Dana White, held a press conference Wednesday in anticipation of the event.
White is known for sitting down with the media following press conferences and shooting straight answers to any questions. Here are some of the highlights from the recent chat.
The emotions between Rashad and Rampage are real
The rivalry between the two main event fighters has become so big it almost seems too good to be real.
There was the face-to-face confrontation that started it all, when Evans entered the octagon after Jackson defeated Keith Jardine at UFC 96. Then there was the reported scuffle between the two near the cage at UFC 100 last July. Then, of course, the endless trash talk throughout the tenth season of "The Ultimate Fighter."
While White admitted that the rivalry has made the fight easy to sell, he swears that absolutely none of it has been manufactured by the UFC. All the organization did was put the two guys together — that’s all it took.
“Nothing was manufactured,” White said. “You’ve seen us do it a million times. We bring the other guy into the octagon and say, ‘This is who you’re going to fight next,’ and (Joe) Rogan interviews them both. But Rashad went up and got in his face because he had just beat Keith Jardine. It was all downhill from there.
“Believe me, you’re never going to hear a fighter say, ‘The UFC is telling me to say this or not say this.’ We told (Rashad) to go in there and Rogan would interview them. They got nose-to-nose and this is where we are.”
Rampage ‘not having fun’ right now
To many of those in attendance at Wednesday’s conference, it appeared as though Jackson was in anything but a lighthearted mood as he fielded questions.
White noticed it as well and said the fighter may be under some additional pressure this week.
Plus, a short fuse is just part of Jackson’s personality.
“You always see him talking about there’s ‘Quinton’ and then there’s ‘Rampage,’” White said. “I’ve seen more of ‘Rampage.’ He’s one of these guys that can just snap like that.
“I don’t think he’s having fun right now. I’ve been at plenty of fights where he’s having fun, and he’s not having fun. I think he’s got a lot of pressure because of all the smack talk that’s gone down and the ‘A-Team’ movie release is soon. I think he’s in a pressure cooker right now.”
If Rampage wants to act, he should act
White was furious when Jackson announced he was backing out of a fight with Evans last December to accept a Hollywood role in the new ‘A-Team’ movie.
Since then, the two have come back to terms and Jackson even signed a new six-fight deal with the UFC.
But if moviegoers everywhere fall in love with Rampage the actor, White says, he won’t try to stop him from leaving the organization again.
“If Rampage makes the decision he wants to move on and make movies, God bless him,” White said. “You’ll never see me hold anybody back. You have to want to be a fighter.
“But when you’ve committed to do a fight for me and we’ve invested millions of dollars and you don’t show up, that’s when I get pissed off.”
As UFC growth continues, potential of 100 events per year
It’s no secret the UFC is focused on global expansion and, according to White, as that plan unfolds there are going to be more shows per year.
A lot more.
“When we bought this company we were doing five fights a year,” White said. “Now, we’re probably going to end up doing 100 fights a year. We could have a show here on Saturday and have five more going on in five other countries. That’s what’s going to eventually happen.”
Stay tuned for ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ country editions
White loves what TUF has done for his organization and has big plans for the show as the brand continues to go global.
The UFC is planning on creating TUF seasons with the specific goal of developing international talent, starting with Canada, the Middle East and China.
“’The Ultimate Fighter’ is what really kicks it off, to build stars in these different regions,” White said. “We’re working on TUF Middle East and TUF Canada. Maybe, either before or at the same time, will be TUF China.”
White loves weigh-ins
Out of all of the crazy things White gets to do as president of the UFC, he says one of the best perks is getting to stand between fighters when they stare down one another during weigh-ins.
One of the reasons the UFC has turned weigh-ins into popular public events is because of White’s love for them.
According to White, fighters are at their absolute worst the day of a weigh-in because of the stress of cutting weight and the anticipation of a fight.
“I love weigh-ins,” White said. “I love where their mindset is and how nasty they are. That’s why we turned them into what they are. When they square off, you’re already fired up but when you see that, it takes it to a whole other level.
“To be standing right there, it’s the greatest job in the world.”
Montreal hammered Koscheck
Welterweight Josh Koscheck may have learned a lesson following his win over Paul Daley at UFC 113 in Montreal, Canada — don’t anger an entire arena of people when you have to walk past them on your way out.
Koscheck taunted the crowd inside the Bell Centre earlier this month when he said the Pittsburgh Penguins would eliminate the Montreal Canadiens from the NHL playoffs and he would take down Canadian champion Georges St. Pierre in his next fight.
According to White, fans threw everything they could find at Koscheck on his way out of the octagon because of the comments.
“They had a hard time getting him out of there,” White said. “His eyes burned for 10 minutes when he left. They were hitting him with beers — everything. He got hammered leaving that place.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].