Commentary

Silva stays silent; White lays out plans

Originally Published: February 3, 2011
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- The UFC digs Facebook.

The organization experimented airing live preliminary fights on the social network site for the first time last month and was happy with the results.

According to UFC president Dana White, more than 130,000 users "liked" the UFC on Facebook in order to watch four prelim fights that streamed live from the "Fight for the Troops 2" event on Jan. 22 in Killeen, Texas.

The experiment is back for a second test this weekend, as the promotion's first-ever bantamweight fight between Norifumi Yamamoto and Demetrious Johnson is scheduled to run live on Facebook.

No official announcement has been made moving forward, but White told ESPN.com Wednesday he expects the strategy to continue.

"It's never been done before, so it's still a work in progress," White said. "We love the content. It's what I've been talking about for 10 years, where the whole world can watch at the same time.

"What I like about Facebook is the social media portion. Everybody wants to see a fight. The problem is letting everybody know it's on. These social medias like Twitter and Facebook are people connecting with people. It's incredible."

At least for now, the introduction of Facebook doesn't appear to jeopardize the UFC's relationship with Spike TV. The network is set to air two prelim fights from Saturday's card and is signed on to do so for 12 total events in 2011.

According to Spike TV, prelims aired on its network have averaged 1.5 million viewers since the partnership began at UFC 103 in September 2009.

White went on to add it's his goal to eventually make all fights available to the public live. Typically, there are 11 fights on a UFC event.

UFC 126 personal for Silva and Belfort?

Anderson Silva and Vitor BelfortJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty ImagesStaying civil for now, Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort (barely) contain their dislike for each other.

Brazilian middleweights Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort are set to clash at UFC 126 and have repeatedly assured reporters and fans there are no hard feelings between them headed into this fight.

Reports have suggested otherwise, as it was rumored the two former teammates had a falling out earlier in their careers.

Both have downplayed any questions regarding the subject, but there did seem to be hostility during Wednesday's prefight staredown, and White admitted that, from what he knows, the two don't care for one another.

"I don't think it's a good one," said White, on the relationship between Silva and Belfort. "I think they used to train together in the same camp; now there's a lot of bad blood between the two. They don't publically talk about it, but it's there."

If there's a demand for more tickets at UFC 129, it will be met.

Manny PacquiaoJed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesCowboys Stadium's high-definition screen was made to project the action that the UFC can bring.

Just last week, the UFC announced approximately 42,000 tickets will be made available for UFC 129 at Rogers Centre in Toronto on April 30.

Despite that high number, White said the promotion has the option of selling even more tickets if the event sells out. Tickets are set to go on sale to the general public Saturday, Feb. 12.

In the past, White has expressed concern that opening an arena too much would limit a fan's experience -- but has downplayed that after attending a boxing match at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas last year that sat more than 50,000.

"There's room to open more seats," White said. "People will get the whole experience. I was always worried about that until I went to Texas. We'll do it even better than that."

Canada, Brazil favorites to land potential superfight.

Mandalay Bay Events CenterJed Jacobsohn/Zuffa LLCLeft out in the cold? Maybe not. Mandalay Bay Events Center might host Georges St. Pierre superfight.

White has already been clear that if Silva wins Saturday and Georges St. Pierre defeats Jake Shields in April, it's likely the two champions would meet sometime in 2011.

If that fight happens, White said his immediate favorite locations are Canada or Brazil -- but wouldn't completely rule out the U.S.

"You start thinking about that fight and it'd be tough not to do that in Canada," White said. "We could do Brazil, too. We could also do Las Vegas. [In] Dallas, it would be big, and Staples Center [in Los Angeles], it would be big."

Quotable

Forrest Griffin, Rich FranklinJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesFans can only hope Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin trade more than pleasantries come fight night.

"You know, you look at me and Rich [Franklin] and we kind of are jack of all trades, master of none. A lot of stuff he said I agree. My only hope is just that I'm there, he's there, the ingredients are there. I just hope the cake turns out … cake. … I hope it is the great fight it can be; that's my only hope. And I'd like to win, too; that'd be better." -- Forrest Griffin, on the similarities between him and Rich Franklin

Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.