Today the UFC hosted its traditional media conference call in advance of UFC 77 next weekend in Cincinnati. The call featured UFC President Dana White, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, former UFC Middleweight Champion and challenger Rich Franklin, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, and heavyweight-contender Brandon Vera.
The following are notable highlights from the call:
- UFC 77 is “sold out” according to Dana White. Tickets remain available at this time through Ticketmaster though White said he expects a crowd similar to UFC 68.
- Rich Franklin says he took his camp to the mountains of Wyoming to train to remove distractions. He says he trained “four to five” hours each day with some days off. He also trained in Salt Lake City several times with Jeremy Horn.
- White was asked about the closing of the PRIDE offices in Japan but didn’t respond to the question.
- Asked whether the winner of the Okami-MacDonald preliminary bout would get an immediate title shot White said they are definitely in the mix along with Dan Henderson if he moves to the middleweight division.
- A January UFC event in Montreal has not yet been finalized though “a lot” of Canadian fighters will be appearing on the card.
- When asked whether the winner of the bout between Tim Sylvia and Brandon Vera was in line for a title shot White said both fighters, as well as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, are at the top of the division with a title shot expected to come in February in Las Vegas.
- Whit confirmed that the UFC will be returning to Columbus, Ohio in March but that a possible headlining match hasn’t been determined yet (likely pending the UFC 77 main event between Franklin and Silva).
- In a moment of humor Franklin says he doesn’t have a black eye yet but does have a busted lip.
- Vera says that Sylvia’s weight is a “big concern” and that large fighters were brought in to prepare him for the bout. He says he thinks they have found a solution to the size disadvantage but will put it to test on the 20th.
- Franklin says the media didn’t affect his previous fights but felt he needed to get away before it affected him. He says promoting UFC 68 was very intense and the move to training in Wyoming allowed him to keep his focus.
- Silva says he is not taking the fight with Rich for granted and is not treating it like a rematch but as their first meeting. He says he respects Rich and is training very hard for the fight. He does not seem intimidated to be fighting in Cincinnati stating that when the octagon door closes the atmosphere will have little affect on the fight. He wants to put on the fight of the night and fight of the year for the UFC and for fans.
- Franklin is asked if he would look to take the fight to the ground and says he will look “for the path of least resistance” though he expects to come out swinging to start the fight. He says they thought they had prepared well for their first meeting but says they have extensively studied film on Silva including his recent wins over Travis Lutter and Nate Marquardt.
- Sylvia says that Vera is young and fast but he is healthy and ready for the fight and that his surgery went well and he wouldn’t have taken the fight if he wasn’t healthy. He says he doesn’t want the fight to go the third round because he hates decisions and says one of they will be knocked out. He discusses the possibility of a title-rematch against Couture and says he wants to fight as soon as possible whether it is for the heavyweight title or not. He says he is looking to fight again in early-2008.
- Vera took his time away from fighting to take a closer look at the business side of things as well as fights. He says he never took time off from training and has studied a lot of fights since he last competed. He also discussed meeting his wife (a boxer) at a boxing gym and that being married to another fighter makes his life “easy”.