UFC President Dana White has already started pushing the promotion’s next big heavyweight attraction following Brock Lesnar’s second-round submission victory against Shane Carwin at UFC 116 last Saturday in Las Vegas.
Lesnar, who unified the division’s two titles after returning from a yearlong layoff to a severe intestinal disorder, will meet Cain Velasquez next. American Kickboxing Academy’s Velasquez has been quietly waiting in the wings for a title shot since he dismantled former UFC and Pride Fighting Championships champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110 last February in Sydney, Australia.
White said the bout’s date would be determinant on Lesnar, who’s expecting another child with his wife in a couple of weeks.
“Cain Velasquez doesn’t have that many fights either. Him and Brock are in the same boat. That’s going to be a fun one,” said White. “Both are good wrestlers and a lot of Cain’s game is wrestling. Cain Velasquez is a powerhouse.”
The outspoken UFC president said he was impressed with Lesnar’s daring to try an arm-triangle choke on Carwin in the second round of their bout, which eventually coaxed the Jackson-Wittman trained fighter to tap out.
“Your arms are smoked after (holding that move),” said White. “It was a risky move, but he pulled it off, and it was a ballsy move. Brock showed tonight that he’s evolving and he’s willing to take some chances and to try out some of the s--t he’s learning in the gym.”
White also said that the winner of the Junior dos Santos-Roy Nelson bout, scheduled for UFC 117 on Aug. 7 in Oakland, Calif., would determine the division’s next title challenger following the Lesnar-Velasquez tilt.
In other notes:
• White said he wasn’t convinced that UFC mainstay Chuck Liddell has embraced a move to retirement. White reiterated that he wanted the former light heavyweight champion, who sat cageside on Saturday, to hang up his gloves.
“Chuck’s having a hard time with this thing…You have to understand this guy’s been in this thing longer than me and he loves the sport,” said White.
The UFC president also apologized to Liddell’s camp for accusing them of misadvising him to continue on with a career that has seen three straight knockout losses since September 2008. White said Liddell’s team is looking out for the fighter’s best interests.
• White said “Ultimate Fighter” finalist Stephan Bonnar redeemed himself with a gutsy performance against Krzysztof Soszynski on Saturday.
“I was getting worried that Stephan Bonnar was getting soft there because he knew ‘Uncle Dana’ would always take care of him,” said White.
The UFC president reiterated that Bonnar and “TUF 1” cohort Forrest Griffin would always be taken care of by the promotion, but that either could still get cut as an active fighter after poor showings.
• Ecstatic with UFC 116 as a whole, White said the promotion planned to compensate some of the night’s roster more than their announced performance bonuses: “We’re writing checks, more than what you heard of here tonight.” said White. “Guys are going to get well taken care of. Tonight was the greatest night of fights I’ve ever seen.”
• The UFC said it would return to Australia in 2010, and has its sights set on China, South Korea and India.
• White announced plans to set up a UFC office in mainland China in the coming weeks. White said the company had hired the person to head up the new office on Saturday and that an announcement was forthcoming. The UFC opened an office last May in Toronto and has an existing U.K branch in London, which opened in 2006.