UFC executive David Shaw took questions from reporters at the UFC Fight Night 149 post-fight press conference. Here are some notes from the presser:
- Fight of the Night went to Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan and Performance of the Night went to Sergei Pavlovich and Magomed Mustafaev. Each of those fighters won $50,000.
- Shaw said the UFC is investing heavily in Russia, including opening up an office in the country. He said the UFC is planning more events for Russia.
- Shaw said the UFC’s first choice wasn’t St. Petersburg, but it was the city with an arena that was available. He said the arena wasn’t perfect for the UFC’s production, which forced them to kill a few hundred seats so other fans wouldn’t have obstructed views. However, he did say the crowd was good and hopes the UFC will return to St. Petersburg.
- The UFC plans to back to Moscow, but also go to smaller cities in the country in the future. He said the UFC will hold an event in an unknown city later this year, possibly Sochi.
- Shaw said he could not comment on rumors that Russian heavyweight Alexander Volkov failed a drug test, which is why he was pulled from the card in the first place. He also declined comment about Ivan Shtyrkov.
- Shaw was asked if the UFC coming to Russia could result in more bullying at schools for children. He said no, that the sport is based on respect, honor and hard work, and said to look to the respect shown between Alistair Overeem and Alexei Oleinik as an example of that.
- The UFC is “very interested” in returning to Poland. The UFC will “definitely” be back at some point. He said in addition to the UFC Stockholm event in June, the promotion intends to return two more times to Europe this year, for a total of six or seven events in Europe.
- A Polish reporter asked if the UFC is interested in re-signing with Krzysztof Jotko, but Shaw said he would have to circle back to matchmaker Sean Shelby about that.
- Shaw said that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov told him Makhachev is one of the best fighters in the world, and he said the UFC is very high on him, noting the Russian’s current six-fight win streak.
- A reporter asked about Michael Oleksiejczuk’s next fight, and he said he wasn’t sure, only that he was impressed by his performance.
- Someone suggested that Nurmagomedov said the UFC wasn’t properly promoting its events and fighters in Russia. Shaw said he “respectfully disagreed” with that, noting the UFC opened an office in Russia 10 months ago and has already held two events in the country. He also pointed to the high number of Russian fighters currently on the UFC roster.
- Shaw said that Nurmagomedov is clearly Russia’s biggest star in MMA, but the promotion hopes new stars will pop up. He cautioned to say that star-building isn’t something that happens overnight, but mentioned Makhachev and Petr Yan as possible future Russian stars in the UFC. He also noted Valentina Shevchenko as another star from the region.
- When asked how the UFC determines which fighter to sign, he said there are multiple considerations, including timing and filling holes on cards, but did say it’s primarily Shelby, Dana White, Mick Maynard and Hunter Campbell who do the scouting and signing for new UFC talent.
- Sultan Aliev announced his retirement from MMA following a decision win over Keita Nakamura on the undercard.
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