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Friday, July 11, 2008

Conference Call Quotes: Jake Shields, Nick Thompson, Thomas Denny, Douglas DeLuca (Executive Chairman, ProElite, Inc.), Jeremy Lappen (EliteXC Head Of

Courtesy of ProElite, Inc.:

Conference Call Quotes: Jake Shields, Nick Thompson, Thomas Denny, Douglas DeLuca (Executive Chairman, ProElite, Inc.), Jeremy Lappen (EliteXC Head Of Fight Operations) - Thursday, July 10, 2008

In an eagerly awaited rematch, “Ruthless" Robbie Lawler of Granite City, Ill., by way of St. Louis, will defend the EliteXC middleweight title against Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith of Sacramento in the main event on the second primetime broadcast of CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS on Saturday, July 26, (9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET/PT).

In a second world title fight, Jake Shields of San Francisco and Nick “The Goat” Thompson of Minneapolis will collide for the vacant EliteXC 170-pound belt.

Stockton’s Nick Diaz will face Thomas “Wildman’’ Denny of Victorville, Calif., in a lightweight match and Shayna “The Queen Of Spades” Baszler of Sioux Falls, S.D., will take on Brazil's undefeated Cristiane Cyborg in a women’s fight at 140 pounds at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, Calif.

Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at the Stockton Arena Box Office (Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Saturday (noon-4 p.m.), by phone at (209) 373-1700 and (866) 373-7088 (toll free) or online at www.stocktontickets.com.

The event is presented by Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s live fight division, EliteXC. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. PT. The first live fight is at 3:15.

Preceding the two-hour, four-fight broadcast on the CBS Television Network will be a three-fight, one-hour telecast live on SHOWTIME (8 p.m. ET/PT).

In the main event, Antonio "Big Foot" Silva will face Justin Eilers for the EliteXC heavyweight crown. In other SHOWTIME fights, promising Wilson Reis will meet Brian Caraway at 140 pounds and talented Rafael Feijao will be opposed by Travis Galbraith in a light heavyweight fight.

DeLuca: Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for joining. Really appreciate it. On the heels of, in our opinion, a very, very successful primetime premiere (May 31 on CBS), we’re all excited. We wanted to follow right up, keep the momentum going and come back with another fantastic mixed martial arts card. I want to thank all of our athletes who I think are some of the best in the world. As always, our EliteXC fight team has put together a world-class card. We have two title fights that night (on CBS, and a third title fight on SHOWTIME). We have Nick Diaz against Thomas Denny. We also come back also with a great female fight (between Shayna Baszler and Cris Cyborg). So everyone can see that we're committed to standing behind female MMA.

One of the other things we're going to do on July 26 that is going to be a first is that we are going from a lead-in on SHOWTIME to CBS. Actually, I wouldn't call it a prefight; it's a main card on SHOWTIME. MMA fans are getting three hours of unbelievable fight action that night. This will be the first time an MMA card goes from an hour on premium cable right into two hours on primetime network television. We're excited again about pulling off another first for EliteXC.

I think it's important to thank the city of Stockton and The Stockton Arena. We picked Stockton because it is a great MMA town and turns out some great MMA fighters. Three of the guys on the card are either local or in close proximity. You have Nick Diaz, a Stockton guy, Jake Shields, who is not too far away in San Francisco and Scott Smith, who lives near Sacramento. We're expecting a great turnout for, like I said, a great evening of MMA. The Stockton Arena is brand-new, absolutely beautiful. Those in attendance are in for an exciting evening.

Again, thanks to all the press on this call. Thanks to all the athletes for being here. To the press, I want you to know that we at EliteXC, myself included, are always here for you. We're a phone call away. Any questions, we're at your disposal. Thanks for the interest.

Lappen: Hello, everybody and thank you for being on the call. I'm going to walk you through the television fights for the card very quickly, then turn it over to the fighters, which is the reason for this call.

Starting with the SHOWTIME bouts, the first bout will be Wilson Reis against Brian Caraway at 140 pounds. To give you a little background, Caraway has won seven straight fights. He actually just won a fight a few weeks ago, on a Strikeforce card. He's going against Reis, an undefeated fighter out of Philadelphia, who EliteXC is very excited about. We believe Wilson is arguably the best fighter in the world at 140 pounds. He'll be making his SHOWTIME debut. He's fought on some of our undercards and just destroyed his opponents. He's got a tough opponent in Brian, so it should be a great fight.

The second fight is Rafael Feijao against Travis Galbraith at the 205-pound weight limit. Travis has won four fights in a row and is the King of the Cage Canadian champion. He is fighting a guy in Feijao who is, again, another guy who we would put up against anybody in the world. Feijao is 6-1. His only loss came when he up-kicked a guy and was disqualified for it. He comes out of a camp with Antonio Nogueira and Anderson Silva. He's just been devastating everybody we've put him in front of. Actually we had a very hard time finding an opponent for him for this fight. Travis was gracious enough to step up and brave enough to step up. It should be a great match. But there were a number of fighters we went after who turned down the fight because they didn't want to face Feijao.

In the main event of the SHOWTIME portion of the card, we are having our first EliteXC heavyweight title fight with Antonio "Big Foot" Silva taking on Justin Eilers.

We have been promoting Antonio for a while now as the person that we think is the best in the world at heavyweight. But he's got a very, very tough test in Justin Eilers. Justin has won 10 of his last 11 fights, his only loss coming in a decision loss to Pedro Rizzo.

The CBS card will open with Shayna Baszler against Cris Cyborg at 140 pounds. For Shayna, this will be her fourth appearance for us. She’s fought three previous times on SHOWTIME and finished off her opponents in the first round every time. But she's got a very, very, very tough competitor -- somebody we're very excited about -- Cris Cyborg out of Brazil. If you haven’t seen her, you're in for a treat. Cris is one of the most powerful, vicious and aggressive female fighters in the world. This should be really, really interesting and should set up very nicely the winner of this hopefully getting a title shot down the road.

The main event on CBS is "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler against Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith. This is the rematch from our last CBS event. That fight was an epic fight, turning into one of the greatest fights ever until it was stopped prematurely because of a poke in the eye. We wanted to bring it back and both guys were very excited to redo it and finally settle the score.

We also have Nick Diaz taking on Thomas Denny at 160 pounds. Nick is trying to work his way to get his rematch with EliteXC lightweight champion KJ Noons. This is a huge step for Thomas, but he is finally getting his big shot – and on CBS. This is a fight these guys have been wanting for a long time. It should be a great one.

Then, for the EliteXC welterweight title, we have Jake Shields against Nick Thompson. Nick has won 20 of his last 21 fights, including 12 in a row. He was the Bodog 170-pound champ and has been on a terror of late. Jake, who hasn't lost in almost four years, has won nine in a row and is ranked in the top five in the world on most ranking systems. Jake has fought for us numerous times. Basically we have yet to find anybody that can take Jake out of the first round. This should be a great battle between two of the top 170-pounders in the world. We're very, very, very proud to have this matchup for the first-ever EliteXC welterweight belt.

Question: Jake, what are your thoughts on finally getting a shot at a world title? How is training going? How are you physically?

Shields: I couldn't be more excited about this right now. I think it's awesome. I've been fighting for over eight years. To finally be fighting for a world title on CBS is just phenomenal to me. As far as training, I'm in great shape. I feel the best I've ever felt. I had an injury (lower back) that messed me up, (but it) got me more motivated than ever. My training camp is going great. I'm glad to be fighting in Stockton, which is only an hour and a half from my hometown. I feel super excited about my opponent. I'm more excited to be fighting Nick than Drew Fickett. Unfortunately, that fell apart. Nick is just somebody I've wanted to fight for a while. I know he’s wanted to fight me. It's a perfect time for us to fight, go out there and make this a true world title fight.

Question: Nick, what are your thoughts going in?

Thompson: I basically feel the same way as Jake. Fighting for a title is only as good as the competition within the organization. Jake is one of the best in the world. I feel I'm one of the best in the world. So I'm honored to fight him for the title. For it to be on CBS is just icing on the cake. We're both very technical fighters who are going to show the world what mixed martial arts is truly about.

Question: Nick, aren't you following up this fight with your bar exam?

Thompson: Two days later I take the bar exam.

DeLuca: We'll see what happens on both. We're excited to see you guys fight. Thomas, do you want to say a few words to everyone?

Denny: I'd like to give a big thanks to Terry Trebilcock, Jeremy and J.T. Steele. These guys have all been working really hard, have always believed in me and brought me into EliteXC. Man, I'm excited. Nick and I were supposed to fight three or four times but it just never materialized -- whether the shows fell apart, the money wasn’t right, whatever it was. I'm going to fight him in his own hometown, finally getting to bang and scrap it out with him. Thanks for the opportunity, guys.

Question: Jake, do you look at this as sort of home fight for you? The last time you fought in Stockton was when you were there for the state wrestling tournament.

Shields: I definitely think of this as a home fight. I mean, Stockton is not my exact home, but (it is) pretty much. Anywhere in northern California is pretty much like fighting at home. I grew up an hour and a half from Stockton, in Calaveras and wrestled the state meet in Stockton. Now I'm an hour and a half the other direction in San Francisco. I go there, train with the Diaz boys. It's pretty much -- I definitely think this as a home fight for me.

Question: Do you think that's any advantage? Your dad (Jack) said most of the town of Mountain Ranch will probably pack up and head down there.

Shields: Is it an advantage? I don't know, maybe a small one. It's always good to be home. I'm used to fighting away, like in Japan. So it's one of those things; it's an advantage, but a very small one.

Question: Jake, do you feel there are distractions because this is a home game for you?

Shields: Yeah, exactly. It almost could be looked at as a negative, too, having all my friends, family, everyone calling, trying to get tickets, having me arrange things, helping. I almost prefer taking off and disappearing. But it is nice to have everyone get to watch, too.

Question: You're saying tell everyone to leave you alone?

Shields: Exactly. Any of my friends listening to the call, leave me alone. That's not going to happen, though, 'cause all the ones listening to this would already know that (laughter).

Question: Doug, what is Gary Shaw's status with this company? Is July 26 the last show he has with EliteXC?

DeLuca: I was waiting for one of those questions and the opportunity to set the record straight. Gary is still very involved with ProElite. Gary and our team from day one at ProElite basically took MMA at our company from ground zero to a huge network success. So, Gary's got a lot to be proud of in the MMA world. In the process of doing it, as you can imagine, Gary being from the East Coast and we being a West Coast company, took a lot of time from Gary. He was traveling non-stop. It took a toll on his boxing business, which is very successful and it took a toll on his family. To some degree, it took a toll on his health. We collectively made the decision that Gary was going to back off a little bit, kind of take a little bit of a relaxed role as far as being involved front and center, which is a good thing for all those three things, for his health, for his boxing business, and for his family. But Gary is still very much involved and I still talk to him almost every day. He's still there. Gary's interest still lies in EliteXC and ProElite, making it a top organization in the world. That's the status with Gary.

Question: Doug, in what capacity is he now working with EliteXC?

DeLuca: Gary is still, like I said, majorly involved. I would say he's more or less consulting in terms of all his promoter abilities, all his contacts and everything Gary does. So Gary is kind of behind the scenes with us, kind of shaping the direction of the company, the way it's going, pulling the strings in terms of how we're going to promote, what we're going to do. Again, his involvement is very much similar to what it's always been. The difference is, he's not going to be front and center, doing all the time-consuming stuff that he's done in the past.

Question: Jake and Nick, how do the win streaks impact a fight? For example, is there additional pressure or how does that play out?

Shields: I think it just gives us both extreme confidence. When you're on a winning streak like I'm on, I just feel completely confident and unbeatable. I've been running through people. I mean, I'll let Nick speak for himself, but I have the feeling he feels the same. We're two fighters going in there confident, at the top of our games. Neither one of us feels like we can lose right now.

Thompson: I don't really have much else to add, other than what Jake said. I think for younger guys, winning streaks can be difficult because if they get in adversity, they're not used to it. But Jake and I are both veteran fighters. We're used to adversity and we're also used to winning.

Shields: We fight good fighters, too. We're not just on these winning streaks versus no one, which is a big difference.

Question: Thomas, what does it mean to you to be on CBS? Could you explain that feeling?

Denny: It feels awesome. Obviously it's the biggest stage I've been on. I've been fighting in this game for nine years, busting my hump, raising a family and having a gym and everything else that I do. This is just a real huge opportunity. I'm glad to be a part of it. It's been a long time coming.

Question: Thomas, what is your biggest concern with Nick?

Denny: My biggest concern with Nick? His hard head (laughter). The guy, he takes a beating, you know what I mean? He's a real durable guy. He doesn't care if he's bleeding and bloody and swollen, he just keeps coming. I think it's going to make for a really good fight.

Question: Thomas, there were some comments attributed to you regarding Nick's inability to make weight in his last fights. Do you think fighters feel too much pressure to fight when their opponent doesn't make weight?

Denny: I don't know if they feel too much pressure. But, I mean, it's the rules, man. Rules are rules. They're meant to be followed. If you sign a contract that says you're going to weigh 160, you should come in at 160, not 169. So, I don't know, I just think it's unprofessional.

Question: Thomas, what do you think a win over Nick Diaz right now does for your career?

Denny: It shoots me to the top, man and hopefully sets me up for a fight against KJ or Yves (Edwards). I would love to fight KJ for the belt. That's a lot to ask for. But, hopefully, I go out and shine like I feel like I should and maybe I'll get recognized enough to get the title shot.

Question: Jake, why did you pick Nick for this fight? Do you feel your styles match up to make for an exciting fight and why?

Shields: Well, I didn't necessarily pick Nick. But I definitely wanted Nick Thompson because I just felt like he's at the top of his game and I'm looking to fight the best. (Plus, he) was quoted saying he wanted to fight me. Do I think it's an exciting fight? Definitely. We're both well-rounded. I know I'm going to come out at Nick, and Nick is going to come at me. Neither one of us are going to go out and dance around, try to win a decision. I'm going to go out there and try to finish him. I know he's going to do the same. I think it should be a really exciting fight.

Question: Nick, how are you able to juggle training for a world title fight and studying for a bar exam?

Thompson: Very carefully (laughter). I get up in the morning about 6. I'm at the gym at 6 doing my strength and conditioning. Then I go straight to class. Then it's back to the gym. I've got a little break room there. I study for a couple hours, train again, go home and study some more.

Question: Is there a way you can compare what being an MMA fighter is and becoming a lawyer?

Thompson: You know, I think there's a lot more similarities than most people would expect. Just because both of them are technical chess matches. One, you're using your body, the other you're using rhetoric. But in either case, you're picking out a strategy and trying to beat your opponent (like in a) chess match.

Question: Jake, what is a normal training day like? Have you changed it up for this title fight?

Shields: Normal training day? I mean, my days vary a little bit depending on the day of the week. But, usually, my first training session is at 11 or 12. I spar, five, five-minute rounds with big gloves, and then I grapple (for) like 30 minutes. Then I'll go take a little break, then I'll come back and do either strength and conditioning or pad work. If I have energy, depending on how I'm feeling, I'll go hit a run. If I'm too exhausted, I'll just wait for the last day.

Question: Jake, has Cesar (Gracie) brought anybody in special to get you ready for Nick?

Shields: No, I've been training with the same people – like Nick Diaz. The only thing that is a little different, I've been training and sparring with Jon Fitch a little bit.

Question: Nick, knowing that Jake is awesome on the ground, do you have any special tactics you're going to use in this fight?

Thompson: Yeah. I'm going to try to avoid being put on the ground (laughter). I feel comfortable there. I think my submission skills are decent. My wrestling is decent. Jake is as good as anybody in the world at taking people down and submitting them. I definitely don't want to be there any longer than I have to.

Question: Nick, have you brought in anybody special to try to get yourself ready for Jake?

Thompson: It's going to be hard to find someone that can do everything as well as Jake. But I've got some guys in my camp that in their individual areas I think overall can reproduce what Jake does. I obviously have Sean Sherk in my camp, guys like that. Have a few black belts. So I'm just kind of piece-mealing everything together.

Question: Jake, have you thought about what the impact is going to be on national TV, what it might mean to you as far as advertisement dollars?

Shields: Mostly I just think about the fight. Obviously if more money comes in, that's great. But I fight because I love it. Anything that can make me more money, (help me) make a living doing what I do, it's great.

Question: Thomas, the postponements notwithstanding, do you care you're fighting Diaz in his hometown?

Denny: You know what, it doesn't matter. It's just him and I when we get in there. Obviously he's going to feel a little more pressure than I am, because that's all his friends and fans. They all hate me as it is. So do I have pressure? Not really. I think if you look at it, he's going to be the one dealing with a little more adversity than I am. I'm expecting them to throw bottles at me, cuss at me, flip me off, everything else. If he goes out there and loses in front of his hometown, he's the one that's going to be shunned upon. I feel he has more pressure than I do.

Question: Thomas, you were asked about the weight issue before. Are you going to stand by the fact that if he doesn't make weight, he's good, too?

Denny: If he comes in nine pounds overweight, the fight probably won't happen. It's just ridiculous. I think he knows and he has something to prove that he is a professional. So I think he'll come on weight and I think the fight will happen.

Question: Thomas, in the buildup of this fight, there's been a lot of trash talking. Is that just part of the game when you're fighting, especially when you're fighting a guy like Nick who likes talking trash? Has it become something more than that?

Denny: You know what, a fight's a fight. Any way you look at it, we're both going to get in there, we're both going to punch each other in the face and at the end may the best man win. All the stuff leading up to it is just all pre-hype fight. I don't know, man. I'm excited. I don't have anything bad to say about Nick. I think that, like I said, he's a durable, tough guy. I think his antics are a little over the top. I think the flipping people off and cussing everybody out and stuff, you know, we got kids watching the sport. We're trying to legitimize the sport. I think it's a little over the top. At the end of the day, we're going to get in there, we're going to rock 'em sock 'em robots and may the best man win.

Question: Thomas, you have fought a majority of your career at higher weight classes but have now gone down lower to fight at lighter weights. How does that affect you?

Denny: You know, this is more my natural weight class than anything. I have a weird body shape. I'm 5-foot-9 but I walk around about 175, 177. That's out of shape. So usually when fighting at 170, I wouldn't even cut weight. I would just basically wake up, eat breakfast and go weigh in. I've always been a real small 170-pounder. But I'm a little too lean and I have a little too much muscle to make 155. That last five pounds would kill me. But 160 is a real good natural weight class for me. I feel healthy. I feel strong. I'm excited that EliteXC brought it in.

Question: In the past when you've had animosity against certain fighters. Does that help or hurt you and how will that affect you in this fight?

Denny: Know what -- I'll take being the underdog any day of the week than being the (favorite). When you're expected to win and you're expected to perform and you're in front of all your fans, you have so much more pressure. Everybody's expecting me to lose. Everybody thinks I don't even belong in there. Man, I'm excited because everybody felt I didn't belong in the ring with Tony Fryklund, that he was going to smoke me. I was an 8-1 underdog, whatever. I went out there and finished him in 1 minute and 12 seconds. I love fighting when I'm the guy who shouldn't even be in there.

Question: Jake, you're fighting Thompson, the last guy to hold the Bodog title. You're fighting for the EliteXC title. What does that mean to you? Do you feel like it's a unification fight or more of finally about time to fight for the title?

Shields: A little of both. It's great finally fighting for a title. Nick and I both hold different belts. He's the Bodog champ. I was the Shooto champ, the Rumble on the Rock champ. So it's nice to have guys who already have held titles fighting for EliteXC. EliteXC is obviously one of the biggest if not the biggest show in the world now. I think it's just an awesome opportunity.

Question: Nick, do you feel the same?

Thompson: Yeah, it means a lot to me that Jake held those belts because, you know, it's going to be a fight of two champions. I don't think anyone in the world can deny that the winner of this fight is a world-class champion.

Question: Jake, this is your first fight in nine months. Is that your longest layoff ever?

Shields: Second longest. I went awhile without fighting a few years ago. I was doing a bunch of grappling after fighting at Shooto. Definitely a long layoff, a lot longer than I would’ve liked. But unfortunately I had some injuries to deal with. The important thing is I'm healthy now and ready to fight.

Question: You suffered a lower back injury?

Shields: Lower back injury, yes. I was out and wasn't able to train for three months. That was pretty depressing considering fighting is what I love to do and how I make money. I was pretty bummed out. But luckily it got better. I'm back to 100 percent and now I'm ready to fight.

Question: Jake, are you holding back in training at all?

Shields: No, I've been 100 percent. The back's not going to be an issue. I was feeling it for a while. When I tried to train, I would just get hurt again. I found a great, great doctor that's been working on my back. Even though it's healthy, I keep working with him at least once a week. Whenever I start feeling it tense up, I drive right over there and have him work on all the pain.

Question: Nick, in a lot of your fights, you've had at least a pretty decent wrestling and grappling advantage. Have you kind of tried to change your game plan more for this fight or are you pretty comfortable wherever the fight is going to go? How much have you been working on your standup so you can try to keep the fight on the feet?

Thompson: I don't think I've been working my standup any more than any other area of my game. You know, I just look at the style matchup and I think the area I have the biggest strength over Jake is standup. It's still not a huge advantage. But I think on the ground we're fairly close. Standup, we're fairly close. But I think I can maybe use my standup a little more effectively and try to control the pace of the fight that way.

Question: Jake, how do you think you match up with him as far as the standup?

Shields: I think this fight's a great matchup. I think he's got good standup. I think my standup might be a little underrated. But I think Nick definitely has a good standup and a good ground game, too. So it's not like I take him down, the fight's over. It's not like he's a standup guy with no ground. That's why I'm so excited about this fight. We both can fight anywhere. It's one of those fights; we might be standing on our feet, we might be on the ground. We're both going to be able-- I think we're both adequate wherever the fight goes.

Question: Thomas, you talked about being the underdog, kind of being expected to lose. Certainly people are going to favor Nick but he hasn't looked all that fantastic his last few fights. Do you expect him to look and be at his best or do you think maybe he's slipping, not training as hard as he used to, there are holes in his game you can take advantage of?

Denny: Nick said what he has going on. I can't be a judge of that, so I don’t know. I've seen his last few fights. I hope he comes at me like he has come in his last few fights. I think he's looked real slow and sluggish. I'm definitely going to look at going out and pushing a very fast, hard pace. I hope he can hang and put on a good show for the fans.

Question: Nick, obviously Jake didn't grow up in Stockton, but he grew up pretty close and went to high school in the area. Do you think that's an advantage or disadvantage for you knowing there’s a good chance he's going to be the fan favorite?

Thompson: I think there's two sides to that coin. There are certainly advantages to fighting at home. You know the area. You don't have to travel. And the fact that you've got the crowd cheering for you. But there are also disadvantages. There's pressure. Like Jake was saying, there's people asking you for tickets, stuff like that. At the end of the day, it's probably a wash.

Question: Nick, you talk about wanting to fight Jake straight up but you also have a great history on the mat. Are you pretty confident if you have to go down and trade holds down there, you'll be OK?

Thompson: Yeah, that's what makes this fight so interesting. One of us may have a slight edge somewhere, but it's not enough of an edge. You're not going to see the classic style matchup of a grappler versus a striker. This is going to be two fighters that really can fight anywhere. I'm able to keep on the feet. Jake is more than adequate on the feet. If it hits the ground, I'm decent on the ground. It's going to be an interesting fight wherever it goes.

Question: Jake, Drew Fickett seemed to imply you did not want to fight him and backed out of the fight because you didn't want to fight him. Can you comment on that?

Shields: I just think that's laughable. I would fight Drew Fickett any time. The people at EliteXC decided to pull him. I said I would still fight him after he pulled out of the fight. The guy pulled out of my fight (and then fought a week earlier). I'll fight him anytime. If he wants to fight after this one, I have no problem. I think he's a great guy, I have nothing against him. I just think he's a little crazy and not all there, a little delusional. He thinks you can pull out of a fight and fight the week before and have the (promoters) not be mad at him. But like I said, I'll fight him anytime. It's EliteXC that made the choice to pull him.

Question: Jeremy, can you weigh in on that?

Lappen: Jake was more than happy to fight Drew. We're the ones who pulled him from the card. Drew basically pulled out of the last fight in Hawaii when he was supposed to fight Jake, citing a knee injury, then appeared, actually breaching his contract, by fighting in another event without clearing it with us. I think it was either a week before or a week after. I get the feeling, I don't know for sure, but I think Drew is going through some pretty serious personal problems. You know, those around him have been confirming that. He's been consistently breaching our agreement and taking fights. I think you saw recently he got in trouble trying to take another fight, breaching an agreement with another promoter he had. We didn't feel confident enough that we could depend on Drew to actually show up for a fight. We're obviously ecstatic that Nick was available. Nick Thompson is a more highly regarded fighter, has a great record. We think this is actually a more title-worthy fight. So we're very happy that we were able to put that on. Drew, if he can clean up his act, is a terrific fighter as well. I think he's got some personal issues he needs to solve before he can fight for us.

DeLuca: I'd just add to what Jake said, which is Jake has never turned down a fight that we've put in front of him. Jake is one of the top in the world. As he said, he's always eager to fight anyone else that's in his same class. To Jake's credit, he's never turned down any fight.

Shields: It would make no sense to turn down Fickett then ask for Nick Thompson.

Question: Doug, can you talk about the long range plans with CBS?

DeLuca: Absolutely. You know the plans at the moment. We're going to do four fights in our calendar year contract. It started at the end of April, beginning of May. You'll see another couple fights. That could expand based on the success of those fights to even more fights. That's kind of something we mutually agreed upon between CBS and us. There are options to renew that. So as far as a commercial deal goes, as far as putting great MMA fights on primetime, I mean, you're going to see a lot more out of that. Again, the better fights we put on and the more that the MMA fans come out and watch, I think the more fights you're going to see. CBS is a great partner, as is SHOWTIME. They're very supportive of MMA. They're very supportive of ProElite and EliteXC. We're excited to be in business with them. I think you're going to continue to see big stuff, milestone things out of us, CBS and SHOWTIME.

We're committed to growing the great sport of mixed martial arts. I think in our last telecast on May 31, we gained a lot of new fans, who had never watched the sport before, as well as all the hardcore fans. As long as we can keep growing the fan base for this sport, which is inevitable, CBS, SHOWTIME and ProElite will have a long and healthy lasting relationship. I think that's where it's at.

A big thank you to our athletes -- some of the best in the world at EliteXC – for being on this call and for stepping into that ring. Thank you to all the press today. We're excited for July 26.

Lappen: Thank you to the fighters and the media for calling in. We're very, very proud of this show and this fight card. I think this is going to showcase world-class talent. If you look at the fight card and every single fight at every weight class, we will have people on display that we would put in against anybody in the world. These are truly the best fighters in the world. It should be a great, exciting show. If you're in Northern California, there's nothing like seeing our fights live. Come out and buy tickets. If you can't make it live, watch it on CBS and SHOWTIME. Thanks a lot.

Shields: I want to thank everyone at EliteXC for giving me this huge opportunity to fight for a world title and to fight on CBS. I've been fighting forever. To have this opportunity is awesome. Also I think everybody should make sure to watch this fight. It's going to be a great fight between Nick and I. I think we're both two of the top guys at 170 that haven't quite got the proper exposure and stuff yet. We have a lot to prove on July 26. I just don't see this not being a good fight. I know I'm going to fight hard. I know Nick's ready, too. So be ready.

Thompson: I would just like to reiterate how excited I am to fight on CBS and especially to fight Jake. We're two of the best fighters in the world. I think this fight's going to be the toughest test of either of our careers.

Denny: Once again, I want to thank everybody for all the support over the years. Thanks to, like I said, all the EliteXC guys and CBS. Thanks to Nick Diaz for giving me this fight. I'm really looking forward to going out there, showcasing some skills. I've been training my butt off. I'm going to go out and bring it. I am going to set a high pace. Then I'm going to get my butt in the front row and watch Nick and Jake beat the heck out of each other. I'm really excited for that fight.