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Sunday December 30, 2007 7:34 PM PST

 

UFC 79 News, Notes & Quotes

By Gary Herman

UFC 79 may have ended, but the news and notes from the show are nowhere near complete. Many of the participants had some very interesting things to say on a wide assortment of subjects.

The end of an era?

For Matt Hughes, the loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 79 may represent a turning point in his career. Hughes admitted that he is going to take a look and examine if he should keep fighting.

“I’m not going to come out here and be someone’s highlight reel,” said Hughes, “I have to see what the UFC wants me to do, and I have to see what my family wants me to do.”

There is one fight, however, that Hughes may very well still be up for.

“I want to fight Matt Serra. Yes, I do.”

As for Serra’s long-term prospects as champion, Hughes is not very optimistic for an extended title reign.

“I think when Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra match-up again it will be a completely different fight. Serra is going to go down. He won’t be around for long,” Hughes said.

Finally, a heavyweight title match (sort of)

Due to Randy Couture’s sudden departure, the UFC has been left without a heavyweight champion. Now, plans are set to crown a new titleholder.

That winner of the fight, however, will only be the interim champ.

“Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Tim Sylvia will face off on February 2nd for the UFC
Interim championship,” UFC President Dana White said.

Randy Couture’s incorrect proclamation

During a recent HDNet Fights card, Randy Couture publicly announced that he would be free to fight Fedor Emelianenko come October 2008.

UFC President Dana White completely disagrees.

“I expect Randy Couture to honor his contract. He is the heavyweight champion of the UFC. Until he either retires or fulfills his contract, he fights for the UFC,” said White.

White already knows the next fight that will be lined up for Couture.

“Nogueira and Sylvia are fighting for the interim title, and the winner will fight Randy.”

Is Pride FC’s lightweight champion next?

Having already signed Pride FC’s middleweight and light heavyweight champion in Dan Henderson, White openly admitted that he would like to bring in another one of Pride’s champions.

That man is lightweight champion Takanori Gomi.

When asked about Gomi, White was quick to respond:

“I’ve wanted to sign Takanori Gomi for a long time. I am very interested in him,”

At UFC 79, Gomi had ringside seats. Was it just a coincidence or was Gomi at the arena to talk to White?

“Gomi was just here to watch the fights,” White said, “He did stop by and say hello though.”

Serra’s return

UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra is not too far away from a return to the Octagon.

According to White, Serra said that he is confident that he’ll be ready to return in April of next year.

Not coincidentally, April is the month UFC plans to debut in Canada - Montreal to be exact.

Should Serra be able to fight in April, White said that he would be fighting interim champion Georges St. Pierre to determine the undisputed welterweight championship.

From one top heavyweight directly to another

Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia was very candid in his response about the man generally regarded as the top heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko. Sylvia was not pleased about Emelianenko’s recent decision to join the brand new M-1 Global instead of the UFC.

“I think he’s being a (expletive),” said Sylvia.

Sylvia went on to say that he respects Emelianenko’s skills – just not his choice of opponents.

“I think Fedor is very good, but you have to fight the top level competitors all the time to keep that status, and he is just not doing that.”

Emelianenko is set to take on Hong-Man Choi on New Year’s Eve. Choi has a career mixed martial arts record of 1-0.

UFC or the Olympics?

The reason Georges St. Pierre was in such good shape heading into the fight with Hughes after only signing for the fight five weeks ago was simple: St. Pierre was preparing for something else.

“I was training in wrestling for the Olympics,” said St. Pierre, “That’s why I was ready to go so quickly.”

Now that the fight with Hughes is over, St. Pierre said the Olympics could wait.

“The UFC title is much more important to me than the Olympics.”

Dana White quickly said, “I love when he says that.”

Could Matt Lindland join the UFC?

Highly respected middleweight Matt Lindland has been in the news recently by stating that he has interest in fighting current champion Anderson Silva.

However, UFC President Dana White is only lukewarm on the topic.

“I’ve had some issues with Lindland in the past. I have talked to him, and they want to continue to talk,” said White, “I am still on the fence with Lindland. I want someone that wants to be a team player. I don’t need a promotion full of Tito’s (Ortiz).”

White went on to extol the virtues of Lindland’s close friend and training partner, Dan Henderson, as well as Silva in comparison to Lindland.

“I think Henderson is ten times the fighter that Matt Lindland is,” White said, “He is much more well-rounded, and if Silva does to Henderson what he’s being doing to everyone else? Wow, he will be the man.”

What really made Clementi happy

UFC welterweight Rich Clementi opened the UFC 79 pay-per-view with a big victory over heated rival Melvin Guillard. The two had a long-running war of words both before and after the fight.

The feud definitely does not appear to be over.

“Melvin is a dumb young kid. For him to run his mouth the way he did, it is disrespectful,” said Clementi in the post-fight press conference, “I am glad to let everyone see what kind of an idiot he is.”

The victory over Guillard though was not the only feather in his cap.

“For some reason, I was the underdog in this fight,” said Clementi, “My friends are calling me up left and right now. They all bet on me and made mad money.”

“That makes me very happy,” Clementi said.

UFC 79 Awards
Following the show, the UFC handed out awards for the best fight, the best knockout, and the best submission. With the award comes a $50k bonus.

Best fight: Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva. Liddell finally to put to rest the debate on who is the better fighter between the two. Liddell won the exciting three-round slugfest by unanimous decision.

Best knockout: Eddie Sanchez. Sanchez pounded on Soa Palelei for two and a half rounds before the referee mercifully stopped the fight.

Best submission: Georges St. Pierre. In the second round of St. Pierre’s dominating victory over Matt Hughes, St. Pierre locked in a picture-perfect armbar submission to secure the win.

 

 
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