Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010 | 11:40 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO — The UFC held its pre-fight press conference Thursday in the buildup to this weekend’s middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen.
In addition to many of the fighters competing on the card, UFC President Dana White was in attendance to run the show.
Following a press conference, White is known for sitting down with media members and answering any and all questions regarding mixed martial arts.
Here are a few highlights from Thursday’s chat.
Chael Sonnen’s trash talk has motivated Anderson Silva
It’s no secret that No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen has a way with words, especially when it comes to the subject of Anderson Silva.
Sonnen has launched a verbal assault on Silva the entire year — an attack that has gone basically unanswered by Silva.
According to White, though, Silva has heard the trash talk, and it’s had more of an effect on the fighter than he’s letting on.
“You guys have been to enough press conferences to know he’s pissed,” White said. “He’s not happy right now. He’s coming off all the negative stuff from Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and now he’s got (Sonnen) talking (expletive.)
“He’s fired up.”
Silva does have something to prove Saturday after he spent much of his April fight at UFC 112 dancing around the octagon.
That night in Abu Dhabi, White threatened to cut Silva from the UFC if he acted like that again.
To White, there’s no place for that kind of behavior in any sport, including MMA.
“It’d be like (Michael) Jordon going nuts in the middle of a game, screaming at people and slapping the floor,” White said. “Imagine if you saw that in a basketball game. It shouldn’t happen there and it shouldn’t happen in a fight, either.”
Lance Armstrong’s feelings probably aren’t too hurt
Chael Sonnen made headlines recently when he stated in a radio interview that famed U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong "gave himself cancer" from "taking drugs" during his athletic career.
Sonnen later denied the man on the interview was him and said he even received a call from Armstrong.
Regardless of what you believe, White said, he doubts Armstrong is losing any sleep over it.
“Lance Armstrong has been around a long time,” White said. “Lots of people talk lots of (expletive.) I’m sure Lance isn’t too upset about it.
Whether Chuck Liddell agrees or not, he’s done in the UFC
White says his dinner with Chuck Liddell last month prior to the UFC 116 event in Las Vegas didn’t go so well.
Despite being knocked out by Rich Franklin in June, Liddell still wants to compete.
White said he hasn’t seen Liddell since the dinner but plans on talking with his friend this weekend at the UFC 117 event.
No matter what Liddell says, however, White says he won’t be fighting.
“He’s in Texas now and he’ll be at the fight Saturday,” White said. “It will be the first week I’ve seen him since last time. He’s not fighting. I’m telling you that right now.”
Jon Jones will start facing top competition
The 23-year-old phenom known as Jon "Bones" Jones is about to see a significant increase in his competition, according to White.
Bones (11-1) walked right through veteran fighter Vladimir Matyushenko with a first-round TKO on Aug. 1 and is now 5-1 in the UFC.
His only loss came when he was disqualified for throwing illegal elbows in a fight last December against Matt Hamill, a fight he was clearly winning at the time it was stopped.
Although the UFC has expressed a desire to take it slow with the prospect, Jones has certainly proved he’s worthy of a top-level opponent.
“I see him fighting one of the top eight guys in the world,” White said. “We’ll see who wins between (Ryan) Bader and (Antonio Rogerio) Nogueira. He could fight the winner of that.
“One more fight, we could see him fighting the top five.”
Friends can fight, including Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck
Jon Fitch could win a future title shot with a win over Thiago Alves in their welterweight fight Saturday.
The only problem is, he might not want it.
Fitch’s teammate and close friend Josh Koscheck could potentially win the title in a fight against Georges St. Pierre expected to take place Dec. 11. Fitch has already said, if that’s the case, he’ll consider a move up to 185 just to not fight his friend.
In his opening remarks at Thursday’s press conference, White cemented the fact that Fitch’s fight Saturday is for a title shot — one he’ll take no matter who holds the belt.
“If Koscheck beats (St. Pierre) and Fitch beats Thiago, they absolutely should fight,” White said. “Does Fitch want to take a backseat and not get a title shot? Watch Josh and possibly move up to 185? It’s so stupid.
“Who isn’t friends in MMA? If that was the case, nobody would fight. Everybody would be fighting Tito (Ortiz.)”