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After an incredibly hectic 24-hour period of wild speculation and rampant rumors when Phil Davis' knee injury forced the prospect out of his UFC 133 headlining bout, the dust has finally settled. Tito Ortiz has accepted a fight against Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 133 on Aug. 6, 2011, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
First, Tito Ortiz was offered the fight and turned it down, then Lyoto Machida was all but confirmed to replace Phil Davis, but apparently his demands were too high. Now, after some soul-searching (and likely a fat wad of extra cash), Ortiz has reconsidered and accepted the rematch.
In an effort to answer all the questions that have been brought up about the event, UFC President Dana White will hold a special media conference call today at 12:15 p.m. EST.
MMAmania.com will deliver up-to-the-second live updates of the special conference call with Dana White after the jump:
Brian Hemminger here. The call is scheduled to begin shortly.
Dana White: 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. We called Machida back and he said he wanted Anderson Silva money and I told him he hadn't accomplished anything yet like Anderson. Tito called back that night and we accepted him.
On Tito's demands:
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: Tito stepped up and he won't be cut if he loses.
Dana White: 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. 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.
Dana White: Tito is a very interesting story. He's been a one dimensional fighter his whole career because he could be. He was so good at taking people down and shashing 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.
Dana White: The whole thing about me asking for Chuck to retire and saying Wanderlei should retire. Nogueira said "Dana White thinks he's God" thing but that's because I had a similar conversation with him too. With Tito, he's been in close fights, he's not getting knocked out violently like these other guys, he was losing and competitive in close fights.
On who was next if Tito didn't pan out.
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: The thing with Tito right now is there's a lot of buzz on him about the last fight. It was a great card with great storylines, a lot of knockouts. One of those great stories was Tito Ortiz. He begged for his job back and we'll see. I think people are going to be interested in seeing if he can beat Rashad and get back in the mix.
On Rashad's response to all this.
Dana White: When I was bouncing around names, Tito Ortiz, Machida, his answer was, "I don't care who you get, who the opponent is, I'm in and ready to fight." Rashad is ready to go.
Dana White: I always say that TIto has that thing called the "it factor." He's just got that personality that people are drawn to him. They either hate him or they like him. Tito has always been since the day I met him, that guy that people are drawn to. The one thing you always want is for people to care.
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: You know there are guys that might be tough to deal with. 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.
Dana White: Tito was never my ultimate kicking 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.
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: It never crossed my mind to tip into the 205 pound division in Strikeforce. Who could i even pick to take on Rashad from there?
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: Phil Davis has a strain or a sprain, not a tear.
Dana White: 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.
Dana White: We're going through a cycle right now where guys are getting injured. The thing about this sport is guys train so hard that injuries happen. We're just going through a spell right now.
Dana White: It would have been more professional for Machida to say he couldn't do it because of short notice, but he didn't. Chael Sonnen and Chris Leben both asked for the fight and I told them they were middleweights.
Dana White: If Rashad wins, he will face the winner of Jones and Rampage.
Dana White: We've been lucky here, we try to put in a comparable fight after injuries and sometimes even improved fights. We always tell guys to stay in shape and be ready to step up in case of injuries.
Dana White: I never worry about ticket sales. The only thing I care about is that we were able to keep the Rashad Evans out of the main event.
Dana White: Lyoto Machida was completely out of the ordinary. 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.
Dana White: Tito was the first guy that I fought.
Dana White: Tito did not get his old contract back by beating Bader. He's under the contract that he signed when he came back to the UFC. If he beats Rashad, we'll talk. I'll say that. Tito called and took the fight. Everybody asked me that same question. Tito just took the fight, no stipulations. If he comes in and beats Rashad, Tito Ortiz is back.
Dana White: I don't think this is a better fight, otherwise I would have made this the main event instead of Phil Davis. We did try to make an interesting fight that made sense.
Dana White: I'm disappointed in the way Lyoto handled it. All he could have said was that he couldn't take the fight or maybe asked for something small. It was very weird and very unlike Lyoto Machida.
Dana White: I talked to Brock's manager. He's recovering very fast. He's up on his farm and he's completely disconnected himself from the world. No phones, no anybody and so far his recovery has been incredible.
Dana White: I always say that Tito and I will have "that type" of relationship. If Tito stays on the path he's on now, this new Tito is awesome. Every once in a while he acts like Tito and I call him on it and we always end up working it out. It's the way he's made. I'm dead honest when I tell you, he's been easy to work with. The day before the fight, it was a big deal and I was pissed off with him but it wasn't a big deal. If you don't think when I called him, I was expected to hear all kinds of demands from Tito and I did not.
Dana White: The winner of Mike Pyle and Rory MacDonald gains some major respect.
This concludes the conference call.