SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN file
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | 6:30 p.m.
While the bouts have been talked about for quite some time now, the UFC made the rumors official Wednesday by announcing three feature fights for its UFC 100 show on July 11 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The main event will be a title-unifying heavyweight championship bout between reigning champ Brock Lesnar and interim titleholder Frank Mir.
“Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir put on one of the most intense one-round fights I’ve ever seen at UFC 81,” said UFC President Dana White, referring to Mir’s submission victory over Lesnar in February 2008. “But when it was over, both guys saw things very differently.
“Lesnar blamed his loss on inexperience and being too aggressive, while Mir saw his win as a triumph of his technique, something he says will happen every time they fight. On July 11th, these guys have their chance to do it again, and while a lot has happened for these two since that first fight, I know the rematch is going to be just as intense as the first one, especially considering that the winner walks away as the UFC heavyweight champion.”
The co-featured event will be another title tilt when UFC welterweight champ Georges “Rush” St. Pierre takes on Thiago “Pitbull” Alves. Rounding out the trio of “superfights” is a middleweight matchup between coaches on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter” in Dan Henderson and Michael “The Count” Bisping.
“Michael Bisping has always been a talented fighter, but he’s gotten even scarier once he dropped down to the middleweight division,” White said. “He’s getting better and better with each fight, but the true test for him will be Dan Henderson.
“Henderson’s one of the best fighters of this era, he’s dangerous wherever the fight goes, and he’s got more world-class experience than almost anyone out there. I’m really looking forward to this, and I think the winner will be the guy who fights the perfect fight on July 11th.”
White said he was equally excited about the potential welterweight war with arguably the sport’s best fighter in “GSP” going against Alves, who many media outlets proclaimed as their “Fighter of the Year” for his wins over Karo Parisyan, Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck.
“Georges St. Pierre may be the most athletically gifted welterweight champions in UFC history, but at UFC 100 he will face his toughest challenge yet,” White said.
“Thiago Alves is a Muay Thai wrecking machine who, like St. Pierre, is huge for a welterweight. He trains with the world-famous American Top Team and is on a seven-fight win streak, including victories over top contenders Karo Parisyan and Josh Koscheck as well as former world champion Matt Hughes. Alves has improved with every fight and I am expecting an explosive fight from the two top welterweights in the world.”
St. Pierre (18-2) agreed with White but said despite the importance of the event, he had to keep his focus on the dangerous Alves (22-4).
“I’m very glad to be part of such a historic event like UFC 100. But I also think of it as another fight – I’ll be as well prepared as I can be,” the Montreal native said.
“I think he’s gonna try to hurt me really bad standing up, or it’s possible that he might try to surprise me and take me down, also. So I need to be prepared for the possibility of both.”
Alves promised a KO and expressed his pleasure for the opportunity to make a name for himself on the UFC’s biggest stage.
“I was born ready for this fight,” Alves said. “I’m training hard for this one and this is the biggest fight of my career. I’m really excited to fight the baddest man on the Earth and I can’t wait to knock him out.
“I’ve gotten so much better. I feel like the luckiest man in the world - fighting GSP, the toughest man on the planet, and fighting at UFC 100 is an honor.”
Las Vegas’ own Mir said he thinks his rematch with Lesnar might go a different direction than the first fight, but the outcome will ultimately be the same.
“He’s a very powerful guy. I think I’m going to see a different fighter from our first fight,” said the 29-year-old Mir (12-3), who won the UFC heavyweight title in 2004 after submitting Tim Sylvia in less than a minute.
“This fight has all the makings of an historic matchup.”
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Lesnar, a former World Wrestling Entertainment fighter, said he plans on finishing this fight the way he should have the first one with Mir.
“I was disappointed the fight was postponed from May because I can’t wait to get my revenge against Frank,” Lesnar said. “But now I get to fight him on the biggest show the UFC has ever put on.
“On July 11, I’m going to finish this fight on the ground the way it should have been finished last time and walk out with my UFC heavyweight championship belt around my waist.”
Ticket info: Tickets for UFC 100, priced from $100 to $1,000, go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations, by phone at (800) 745-3000 or online at ticketmaster.com or mandalaybay.com.
The event will be available live on pay-per-view on iN DEMAND, DirectV, DISH Network, TVN, BellTV, Shaw Communications and Viewer’s Choice Canada for $44.95.
Going mobile: The UFC also launched this week a text alert service for mobile devices to update fans of breaking news, event updates, programming reminders, and other UFC info.
By logging onto ufc.com (and clicking the mobile link), fans can select the specific information they are interested in receiving. The service — powered by 4INFO, America’s leading text alert company — can also be accessed by texting the word “UFCNEWS” to 44636 from a mobile device.
Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.