UFC 131 Pre-Fight Press Conference: Five-Round Main Events, UFC To China, Rampage Vs. Jones In Denver And More

Shane Carwin, Junior dos Santos, Kenny Florian, Diego Nunes, UFC President Dana White and others will be on hand today for UFC 131's pre-fight press conference at Robson Square in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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Dana White: UFC Will Add Flyweights 'Really Soon'

UFC president Dana White announced at yesterday's UFC 131 press conference that the organization is looking to add a 125 pound flyweight division "really soon".  The organization currently promotes mens fights in the heavyweight (265lbs), light heavyweight (205lbs), middleweight (185lbs), welterweight (170lbs), lightweight (155lbs), featherweight (145lbs), and bantamweight (135lbs) divisions.

"We have to get out there; we have to create the division. "We bring the guys in, sign them and start putting on fights. You figure out who the best is, and you have a title fight," said White.

White did not dismiss the possibility of holding a grand prix tournament to determine the first ever UFC flyweight champion. 

"Maybe," he said. "There's a lot of options we could do."

Currently the Tachi Palace Fights organization promotes many of the best-known flyweight fighters including their champion  Darrell Montague, and several other top fighters in the division including ex-champ Ulysses Gomez, Jussier da Silva, John Dodson and Ian McCall.

Olympic gold medal winning wrestler Henry Cejudo is expected to make his MMA debut at flyweight and is the kind of athlete a promotion could build a division around. 

Many top Japanese fighters compete at flyweight including Mamoru Yamaguchi, Yasuhiro Urushitani, and Yuki Shojo. The UFC is always looking for international talent to help it expand in key markets and Japan has so far proven to be a very tough nut to crack. Both due to the difficulties of doing business there as a foreign company and because of the paucity of top-tier talent produced by that country in recent years. Adding a flyweight division and bringing over top Japanese talent could help the UFC in their search for  the promotion's first-ever Asian champion.


UFC 135: Rampage Vs. Jon Jones To Headline Denver Event

UFC President Dana White told the media today at the presser for UFC 131: Carwin vs. dos Santos that, as expected, UFC 135 would be held in Denver. Additionally, as expected, the event would be headlined by Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson vs. Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title. MMA Weekly has the details:

Jon ‘Bones’ Jones will headline UFC 135 in Denver, Colo on Sept 24 against Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson assuming he gets final clearance from his doctors.

The UFC’s top light heavyweight has been sidelined dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb that has been a recurring injury, but opted out of surgery and had a hard cast on his hand for the past few weeks.

The cast is about to come off and assuming he’s given medical clearance by his physicians, UFC President Dana White states he will be fighting on the UFC 135 card.

"Yes. That is the date he will headline on," White answered when speaking to MMAWeekly.com on Thursday.

However, before the bout can become official Jones must first gain medical clearance for the hand injury that sidelined him from his orginally-scheduled fight with Rashad Evans at UFC 133. Jones is expected to be medically evaluated within days.

Follow our dedicated UFC 135 fight card StoryStream for real-time updates, changes and information.


UFC 131: UFC Expects To Hold Event In Mainland China In Next 18 Months

According to multiple reports, UFC President Dana White told reporters at today's UFC 131: Carwin vs. dos Santos press conference that the UFC expects to hold an event on mainland China within the next 18 months. If and when that happens, that would mark the first time the UFC held an event in the country. No specific date or possible venue was mentioned for the yet unnamed event.

The UFC opened an office in Beijing in 2010 under the leadership of Mark Fischer, the former head of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s efforts spearheading growth in East Asia.

Mixed martial arts events have been held in Hong Kong and more notably Macau, but neither are geographically connected to China's main land.

The UFC has only one Chinese national (although he is ethnically Monogolian) on its roster at the time of this writing, Tiequan Zhang. Zhang is a featherweight and currently holds a record of 2 wins and 1 loss in Zuffa organizations. He is the fist ever purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu from China.


UFC 137: Nick Diaz Vacates Strikeforce Welterweight Title For Georges St. Pierre Bout

More big news coming out of today's UFC 131: Carwin vs. dos Santos presser: Nick Diaz is no longer the Strikeforce welterweight champion. While Diaz's contract allows him to fight in either the UFC or Strikeforce, it appears he had to vacate his title to earn the shot against UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. MMA Weekly has the details:

According to UFC President Dana White, Nick Diaz is now a UFC fighter and has vacated his Strikeforce welterweight belt to get a shot at UFC champion Georges St-Pierre.

White stated that Diaz could go back to Strikeforce at some point in the future if he chose, but for now he is strictly a UFC fighter.

As for the Strikeforce welterweight belt, White said that two fighters from that organization will fight later this year to determine a new champion.

There is no word yet on who the potential contenders could be for the now-vacant welterweight title.


UFC 131: Dana White Announces All Main Events To Become Five-Round Contests

There's a ton of news coming out of today's UFC 131 presser, so be sure to follow this StoryStream as we go piece by piece on the news. First up: all main events after UFC 133: Davis vs. Evans will not be contested at five rounds whether or not there is a title on the line. This applies to events airing on pay-per-view, Spike TV as well as Versus. Presumably, although it's not entirely clear, if the main event of a card is scrapped and the co-main is not a title fight, fighters will have the option of deciding whether they want to contest their bout at a three or five-round basis.

Is this is a net positive for the UFC? Mike Fagan explains the benefits of this change:

  • More decisive finishes - From my previous post on the topic, I showed that - in a limited sample size - five round title fights are finished 77% of the time as compared to the MMA average of 67% for three round affairs. More fights avoiding the mysterious hands of the judges the better.
  • Less importance per round - In a three round fight, each round makes up 33% of a judge's score card. A round in a five round bout is only worth 20%. For example, in the Caol Uno/Spencer Fisher fight at UFC 99, if you score the first two rounds (which were very close) to Fisher, Uno has to win a dominant 10-8 third just for a draw. With two additional rounds, Uno would have ample time to make up lost ground (if not finish his opponent).
  • More quality at the top of the cards - I'm an extremist. The more five-round fights, the better. I understand that's a minority position, and unlikely to come to fruition in the event that NSAC opens the five-round door. That said, if the UFC utilizes the five round fight for all main and co-main events, that's potentially 20 additional minutes of high-level MMA. Who can argue with that?

VIDEO: UFC 131 Pre-Fight Press Conference With Shane Carwin, Kenny Florian And More

Join SB Nation MMA as we bring you live footage and analysis of the UFC 131: Carwin vs. dos Santos pre-fight press conference. The event takes place at Robson Square in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. UFC President Dana White will be on hand as well as Junior dos Santos, Shane Carwin, Kenny Florian, Diego Nunes and more.

The presser begins at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. ET. The video will be at the bottom of this post.

We are now hearing the presser has been delayed until tomorrow and may not be streamed live. We will update this StoryStream accordingly as information becomes available.

UFC 131 takes place Saturday, June 11 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The fight card features a heavyweight main event between Shane Carwin and Junior dos Santos. The winner of that bout will receive a title shot against UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. In addition, former lightweight number one contender Kenny Florian will make his featherweight debut as he takes on Diego Nunes.

For more analysis and updates, follow Luke Thomas on Twitter: @MMANation.



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