Wednesday, April 26, 2006


(CP) - UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie is Dana White's immediate priority but the Ultimate Fighting Championship president has already mapped out mixed martial arts plans for the rest of the year.
Look for a Tim Sylvia-Andrei Arlovski rematch, Forrest Griffin taking over for the injured Tito Ortiz against veteran Ken Shamrock, Canadian David (The Crow) Loiseau facing a heavily touted UFC newcomer, and major changes to the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Also, Hughes will defend his welterweight title against Montreal's Georges St. Pierre later this year.
White says Arlovski will get a chance to win back his heavyweight crown in a rubber match with Sylvia at UFC 61 on July 8 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Arlovski submitted Sylvia 47 seconds into UFC 51: Super Saturday in February 2005. But Sylvia, a former title-holder who gave up the belt because of a positive steroids test, won the belt back earlier this month at UFC 59: Reality Check when the referee stopped the fight at 2:43 of the first round after Arlovski was floored by a short right.
"Obviously Arlovski wanted (the rematch), but Sylvia wants it bad too," White said in an interview from Las Vegas.
Sylvia wants the rubber match to end the debate over who is the better fighter.
"He says 'I want Arlovski in my rearview mirror as soon as possible,"' White said. "I really respect him for that."
White believes the six-foot-eight Sylvia and his 23-2-0 record may not get the attention it deserves.
"I think a lot of people were counting Tim out. When you really look at the kid's career, he's lost two fights. One of them was to Arlovski and the other one (against Frank Mir), his arm broke.
"He was pulling out of an armbar (a submission move) and his forearm broke. How often do you see that happen? Never."
The Griffin-Shamrock fight will be on the UFC 61 undercard.
Griffin lost a close decision to Ortiz at UFC 59. But a knee injury to Ortiz has derailed a scheduled summer bout with Ken Shamrock, a grudge match between the two coaches in the current season of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV series.
That opened the door for Griffin, a popular alumnus of the TV show's debut season.
"Forrest called me right up and said 'Give me the fight, boss. Give me the fight,"' White said. "This was like days after.
"He's a fighter, man. That kid is a fighter."
The Arlovski-Sylvia rivalry and the popularity of Griffin, a former Georgia police officer who is tough as nails despite an "aw shucks" demeanour, has given White some options during a time where injuries have taken a toll on some of his biggest names.
"We've spent the last year and a half of this company building some new stars, so it's definitely paid off for us," White said.
Light-heavyweight champion Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell, the UFC's biggest star, is recovering from toe surgery. And middleweight champion Rich Franklin, another marquee name, busted himself up in pounding Loiseau for 25 minutes in a lopsided win at UFC 59.
White expects Liddell to be ready to fight in August, probably at UFC 62, with Hughes-St. Pierre later in the year at UFC 63. Griffin has probably established himself as a contender for Liddell's 205-pound title after his gritty performance against Ortiz.
"I think what Forrest really needed was the confidence to know that he can do that, to know that he can hang with these top guys," White said. "And he definitely got that in that last fight.
"I think you're going to see an even more exciting Forest Griffin in his next fight. . . . No doubt about it, he's the man right now. Not only that, people love him."
Loiseau, meanwhile, will face a tough challenge in Anderson Silva, a highly touted Brazilian with a 15-4-0 record coming over from the rival Pride circuit.
"We are working on putting a main event for those two, probably on Spike," White said.
Silva, known as the Spider, already has a win over Canadian Carlos Newton in Pride.
White also confirmed that big changes are planned for the fourth season of Spike TV's Ultimate Fighter, which starts filming in two weeks. Look for the show to feature established fighters this time with some kind of title challenge as the pot at the end of the reality show rainbow.
Asked if Canadians are involved, White would only say: "There could be. There's some good talent coming out of Canada."
Notes: Vancouver's John Alessio has been added to the UFC 60 card, with Diego (The Nightmare) Sanchez as his opponent. The two welterweights were slated to meet at UFC 58, but Sanchez was sidelined by a virus. ... White says the Matt Hughes-Royce Gracie fight is a non-title affair because Gracie did not want to make the 170-pound weight. The Los Angeles card is drawing "tons of celebrity interest," White said. ... Kalib Starnes, a middleweight from Surrey, B.C., in the cast of Season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter, tells the Spike TV website he fractured his fibula on the first day evaluations for the show but did not realize it until he visited a doctor weeks later on an unrelated matter. The leg pain was why he got into a beef with coach Shamrock about not training hard in Episode 2.
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