Making the UFC 133 Rashad vs. Tito fight, behind the scenes

Thursday, July 14, 2011

During a special UFC 133 conference call, UFC President Dana White detailed what went on behind the scenes when Phil Davis’ knee injury forced him out of his headlining bout vs Rashad Evans at UFC 133.

We found out Phil Davis was hurt last week and we had him set up for an MRI.

We called Tito about replacing him and Tito said he had personal issues.

We called Machida, he was excited about it.

Davis’ MRI results came back and we pulled him. He couldn’t kickbox for 2 1/2 weeks in the preparation for the fight and we couldn’t do that to him and we knew we had Machida ready so we pulled him out.

Phil Davis has a strain or a sprain, not a tear.

Could Phil have continued? Yes. But he couldn’t continue at full strength. He’s a young kid, he’s undefeated and he could have totally blown it out and gotten even more hurt a week before the fight instead. He wanted to continue to fight. He’ll be back as soon as he’s 100% against a top 10 guy in the light heavyweight division.

We called Machida back and he said he wanted Anderson Silva money and I told him he hadn’t accomplished anything yet like Anderson.

 It was the last thing on Earth that I expected because he’s been terrorizing me about fighting as much as possible and that was his response. Totally shocked me.

It would have been more professional for Machida to say he couldn’t do it because of short notice, but he didn’t.

Never have I had a guy accept a fight and then make demands like “We want Anderson Silva money.” Anderson has gone undefeated in the UFC since 2006, he’s broken every record in the UFC, he went up to 205 and dominated there and he’s cleaned out the middleweight division and you want his money? I don’t know how you put a word on that. People lose their minds sometimes and get crazy. Maybe his camp did that and he didn’t even know. He was telling me that all he wanted to do was get in there and fight as soon as possible and he had the opportunity. We’ll leave it at that.

I had no inclination that Tito would reconsider. He was never an option for me and then he called me and asked if I had someone for the fight. I asked him if he was interested and he said he’d talk to his guys and call me back tomorrow. He didn’t say why he changed his mind, I’m just happy he did. I wanted to get off the phone as quickly as possible before he changed his mind again.

Tito called back that night and we accepted him.

Our next plan was Vladimir Matyushenko, who’s also on the card. His only loss in his last six fights is to Jon Jones. We wanted Rashad to get a fight and I think Vlad would have stepped up.

Tito Ortiz did not ask for any more money. He accepted the deal in his contract. Tito stepped up. I saw a lot of the questions that the fans were asking, this was a hot topic about Tito. He didn’t go for more money. He got the same exact deal that he has on his contract. There was a lot of talk about Tito after that last fight about how much he got paid. We told Tito we were going to cut him and he’s been around for a long time. We didn’t renegotiate his money and I thought it was going to be his last fight and he was going to lose to Bader and he surprised him.

Tito stepped up and he won’t be cut if he loses.

Tito was never my ultimate f—— guy. He always went the other way and in my opinion, would step over dollars to pick up dimes and he’s now stepping up and taking fights. I think part of it has to do with knowing that window is starting to close and he feels he made some bad decisions in his life and earlier in his career and he’s trying to make up for that now.

He’s been a one dimensional fighter his whole career because he could be. He was so good at taking people down and smashing you that he didn’t have to do anything else. He’s got really good jiu-jitsu though. He almost submitted Machida and then he submitted Bader. He looked in fantastic shape in his last fight.

If Tito beats Rashad, he’ll have beaten a top 10 guy in Bader and then the number one contender. He’d definitely be in the mix. I wouldn’t say he’d be number one contender but he’d be top three.

When I was bouncing around names, Tito Ortiz, Machida, (Rashad Evan’s) answer was, “I don’t care who you get, who the opponent is, I’m in and ready to fight.”

Rashad is hungry. I’ve had my moments with Rashad. I had a thing with him about turning down fights and waiting for Shogun’s knee to heal. This guy had a knee surgery and he’s waiting on the sidelines waiting for him to heal. Then he gets injured, and the fight never happened.

I’m a huge believer in ring rust. It’s 100% true. Fighting is what keeps you in shape. I like guys to fight three times a year and that’s my big beef with Rashad. This is the absolute perfect fight for Tito Ortiz, just coming off a big win and having his confidence high.

There’s no doubt that Rashad is next in line. He turned down a fight that he should have taken 1 1/2 years ago and he’s had a horrible streak of luck since. Every opponent he’s had has been injured. He’s been training for this fight and we couldn’t pull him out.

I say Rashad is all the same things about Ryan Bader. He’s faster, a better wrestler and got quicker hands than Tito right now, but who knows what’s going to happen.

I think the storyline for this fight is exciting. Rashad’s had a string of bad luck and Tito’s coming up with his Cinderella story. You’ve got Rich Franklin and Little Nog and Vitor Belfort with Akiyama so we’ve got a great card.

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Image courtesy of Arias Garcia