Ecstatic White unsure of next move


UFC president Dana White was in such a terrific mood during the wee hours of Sunday morning following a successful event at Mandalay Bay that he insisted nothing could bring him down.

That emotional crash won’t happen until he gets back to the office today.

Even after the organization’s two undefeated champions, Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey, retained their titles with masterful performances at UFC 175 on Saturday night, the nature of the business always comes down to what’s next.

As of now, there is really no answer.

UFC 176 takes place Aug. 2 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, and there is no main event. Jose Aldo was supposed to defend his featherweight title against Chad Mendes, but the champion was forced to pull out of the card Thursday with a shoulder and neck injury.

White said he was too ecstatic with how the week of fan events in Las Vegas, culminating with Saturday night’s fight card, turned out to turn his attention on the negative.

“I have no idea. I don’t care. I don’t even want to think about that right now. I am in the best mood I’ve been in in a long time,” he said. “I don’t give a (expletive) about what’s going on with that fight right now. I just want to take this in and enjoy my weekend.

“Believe me, I will have a million nightmares on Monday that I will deal with.”

The most rumored scenario seems to involve calling off the card entirely, a drastic measure the organization has taken only once before. UFC 151 was canceled after main event title challenger Dan Henderson was forced to pull out of a fight with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Jones elected not to face a replacement opponent.

The UFC likely wants to avoid a repeat of that fiasco, but there appear to be few options. White was livid when color commentator Joe Rogan, allegedly acting on the suggestion of producers, asked Rousey if she would appear on the Aug. 2 card just moments after beating Alexis Davis in just 16 seconds Saturday night.

Rousey cut her hand, requiring nine stitches, and is scheduled to undergo minor knee surgery this week. She still said she would discuss the possibility with her coaches, but White said it was entirely unfair to put her on the spot like that in the cage.

“It was the biggest idiotic move in the history of our production team,” White said.

Rousey is unlikely to appear on that card, but the question will linger as to who she will fight when she does return to action.

She is tearing through the division, leaving a stream of battered bodies in her wake. Cat Zingano earned the position of No. 1 contender with a win over Miesha Tate in April 2013 only to tear her ACL. Now she is dealing with the death of her husband, who was also her longtime trainer, earlier this year.

Stepping right back into a matchup with Rousey would be a tall order. The same goes for Gina Carano, who has not fought since 2009 after walking away from the sport to pursue a movie career.

Holly Holm and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino are perhaps the most qualified opponents out there, but neither is signed to the UFC at the moment.

The bottom line is the division is all about Rousey. She’s really competing against her own goals at this point.

“I still have a lot of improvements to make,” she said, likely striking fear into every other 135-pound female fighter’s mind. “I want to retire undefeated and be known as one of the greatest of all time, and that takes a lot more work than what I have done so far.”

Weidman’s next challenge appears more clear on the surface, but that situation is far from simple.

White said Weidman will fight Vitor Belfort, provided he gets licensed to fight. Belfort pulled out of a scheduled fight earlier this year on the day the Nevada Athletic Commission announced the abolishment of therapeutic-use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. He also has acknowledged a random test by the commission revealed elevated levels of testosterone outside the allowable boundary at the time for fighters on TRT.

The commission will not act on Belfort’s case until he applies for a license, which should happen as soon as a date is announced for a fight against Weidman.

It would be yet another Brazilian opponent for Weidman. He defeated Anderson Silva to take the belt in July, then won the rematch in December before defeating Lyoto Machida in a thriller Saturday night.

While winning an exciting fight over a former champion such as Machida would seem to distance him a bit from the rivalry with Silva he was so well-known for, Weidman is fine if that never happens.

“I don’t mind having Anderson Silva’s name attached to me as long as it does. He’s the greatest of all time,” Weidman said. “The more I’m winning, the more people talk about him. I don’t mind him staying in the picture. He deserves it.”

So does Weidman, as he proved over 25 minutes Saturday night. Now he will have to do it again.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

 

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