Sports FAQ
Home / UFC

USA Today/ Dana White Interview

MFSQPSFAN2010-05-17 10:16:40 +0000 #1
No matter which brand name is on the marquee, Zuffa wants to use the same faces to promote its pay-per-view broadcasts.

So here's Dana White, president of Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting, talking up Saturday's WEC 48:

"The way I look at it is, it's a Zuffa promotion, and this is the team for pay-per-view. Obviously when the WEC is on Versus, they have their team and everything else, but this is the pay-per-view team."

Fighting Stances spoke to White earlier today about WEC 48, Strikeforce and UFC rematches. Excerpts from our conversation:

Q: How come the regular UFC faces, if you will, are taking more of an active role this time for WEC?

White: The way I look at it is, it's a Zuffa promotion, and this is the team for pay-per-view. Obviously when the WEC is on Versus, they have their team and everything else, but this is the pay-per-view team.

So any time Zuffa does a pay-per-view, it would be you guys out there for it?


If Zuffa keeps expanding on its pay-per-views, at what point do you get stretched too thin?

People keep asking me that, but the reality is, as long as you're putting on good fights -- and I'll tell you, this is a good fight this weekend. You've got Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber as the main event, and (Donald) Cerrone and Ben Henderson as the co-main event. It's a great fight.

Pay-per-view is still the cheapest form of entertainment. Nobody sits home at night and watches a UFC event by themselves for $45. ... You have a great night with all your friends, watching great fights, for four or five bucks apiece.

Dave Meltzer recently wrote that Zuffa believes every pay-per-view buy equals 10 people watching. You predicted at least 150,000 pay-per-view buys for this one. Is that based off the number that Faber-Pulver drew a couple of years ago for WEC? That fight generated viewer numbers of 1.5 million on Versus.

You know, I literally pulled that (150,000) number out of my ass. We were debating in the office on what we thought.

And yes, the eight to 10 people watching a UFC fight is an actual stat. We've actually done work on that one. That is true.

How many people do you know who sit home by themselves and watch the UFC? Not many. I don't know any. ... Fights are social events, whether you watch them at the event, at your house or in a bar. It's a social event.

When I asked about being stretched too thin, I was talking about you and the broadcast team.

I'm stretched way too thin. Me and my employees are stretched way too thin. But that's the business we're in. What are we going to do?

Listen, we've got all these guys under contract. I either do this Faber-Aldo fight now or I do it a month from now. We've got to get these guys their contract fights. It's time.

UFC, with five weight classes, had 13 pay-per-views last year. What gives you confidence that WEC eventually can match the ratio that UFC is doing right now with pay-per-views?

There's great fights in the WEC. Anybody that's ever watched these guys fight on Versus knows how these guys always perform. If we did three WEC pay-per-views a year, I think people are going to be interested in buying them.

You've got a lightweight title fight on the card. What's the advantage to having an overlap at 155 between WEC and UFC?

I actually think it's kind of cool. I think eventually what we do is, we're going to continue to add to lighter weights, and you'll end up seeing these (WEC) guys go into the UFC, the 155 pounders.

So once you add flyweight or divisions like that, you can move WEC's lightweights and move them into UFC, is what you're saying?


Until that happens, how do you avoid having WEC's lightweight division viewed as a lesser version of UFC's?

I don't know. I don't know.

Listen, you saw how everybody, because he was from Japan, everybody thought (Dream champion Shinya) Aoki was -- you know, all these guys get overhyped coming from all these other places. The guys in WEC are real guys.

Since you bring it up, what did you think of the Aoki-Gilbert Melendez fight?

I haven't seen it. I haven't seen any of those fights. I was in Mexico. I literally just got home this morning.

The only thing I saw, I saw the fight afterward on an iPhone, on Youtube. And I heard the goofy (stuff) at the end there, with the guy (CBS play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson) going, "Well, this type of thing of happens in MMA all the time. There's a lot of testerone in the cage." And he's yelling at the guys, "Stop, we're on national television."

Ho-ly (crap).

You told Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole that the scuffle at the end was an embarrassment to MMA. Isn't it just Strikeforce's problem?

Nope, because what happens is -- and it's happening actually right now -- the bigger media is saying, "Yeah, there was a brawl on CBS and it was the UFC."

We're trying to get this thing done in New York, Toronto. You think these legislators know, "Oh, no, that was Strikeforce"?

They don't (freaking) know. They don't care. All they want to do is point the finger and go, "See? That's the (crap) we don't want in our state. Or in our country."

I'm telling you, man, I'm the one out there, hitting the pavement, beating the bricks, talking to all these guys. They don't know (crap) and they don't want to know (crap). They don't care.

So how do you turn that attitude around?

They (Strikeforce) are going to go away. Showtime (messed) that whole thing up. They'll go away. They'll be off CBS and I won't have to worry about them being so, you know, out in front. When something like that happens on CBS, people are going to hear about it.

If they end up staying with (crappy)-ass Showtime, 200,000 people see it. I can live with that.

This is another WEC show in Urijah Faber's hometown, Sacramento. There's been a perception -- Jamie Varner has talked about it -- that WEC until now has been too Faber-centric. How long do you think it will take WEC to build a roster of stars, so it has a bunch of guys who are big draws instead of just one guy.

Well, Jamie Varner is a draw. Everybody doesn't like him. They boo him. He's a bad guy. There's nothing wrong with that. People either like you or hate you, and it doesn't matter what it is, as long as they care.

Urijah Faber -- the guy's been a breakthrough star.

I'll give you an example.

Dan Henderson. We butted heads with Dan Henderson. Dan Henderson thought he was worth more money than we thought he was, so he ended up leaving and going with Strikeforce. Dan Henderson, up until last week, I think it was last Thursday, which was a couple of days before they showed it, they had sold 4,000 tickets in Tennessee, with Dan Henderson headlining.

The Urijah Faber card versus Aldo had sold 10,000. This thing's going to be a sellout over there in Arco (Arena).

The ratings on that (Strikeforce) show were (freaking) horrifying, just like the rest of the show. The ratings were as horrifying as the rest of it.

I think we're going to pull good numbers on pay-per-view.

So how do you create more than one Urijah Faber?

Jose Aldo might be that guy. And Cerrone and Henderson.

It takes time. It takes time, great performances. We haven't been on Versus that long. Nothing happens overnight. You've got to have the gameplan, the road map, the patience and the ability to build an organization and turn guys into stars.

UFC benefited from a breakout with The Ultimate Fighter, but that's arguably a once in a lifetime thing. It's out there right now. How does WEC break out?

(pause) Trust me. We're working on all kinds of stuff right now.

Here's the thing, and I say this all the time: We have the formula. We have the ingredients on how to make this stuff work. How to do it. How to make money. How to build stars.

Nobody else has that because nobody else knows what the (heck) they're doing. ... All these other guys that are getting into this are (freaking) jumping in because they think there's a bunch of money in it. Because we make it look easy and they think they can go out and do it too. That's the reality.

What about Scott Coker over at Strikeforce?

Even Scott Coker. Even Scott Coker. Scott Coker used to (freaking) promote K-1 in Las Vegas. He didn't have to sell any (freaking) tickets. They sold no tickets to that thing. They used to give them all away, the casino did. Scott Coker was involved in K-1, not mixed martial arts.

So you don't think he really cares about MMA, is that what you're saying?

Scott Coker isn't even running that (crap). If you honestly believe Scott Coker is the promoter and the guy that runs Strikeforce, you're very, very, very mistaken, my friend.

It's the guys at Showtime that are running that business. Start doing some interviews with some of the fighters and find out who they're negotiating with. It ain't (freaking) Scott Coker.

Since you mention fighter negotiations -- did Strikeforce just turn Jake Shields into UFC's next star?

(laughs) I don't know. We'll find out. Obviously, Jake feels slighted there.

One of the things that they did over there, they're making bets on fights. They're betting that Henderson's going to beat Jake Shields. They're betting that (Melvin) Manhoef was going to beat Robbie Lawler. So they get sideways with the guys and let their contracts run out so they can do contracts with these other guys that they think are going to beat them.

One of the things that makes MMA so fun and so exciting is -- trust me, when I tell you -- who the (heck) knows who's going to win?

I'll bet if you interviewed 1,000 people, 1,000 people would have said Jake Shields was going to lose that fight. He went in and dominated Henderson. Henderson looked old. Henderson got old overnight, and that happens in the fight business.

Did you think Jake Shields would win?

Nope. (laughs) I'm one of the 1,000. But I wouldn't have (freaking) bet on it, you know what I mean? If I had the promotion and had both guys, I wouldn't have bet that (freaking) Dan Henderson was going to win.

That's what they did. They treated that kid like (crap), let his contract expire and were waiting for Henderson to beat him up. Henderson went in there and looked like a (freaking) old man and got dominated, and now they're standing there going, "Uh oh. How the hell did that happen?"

You look at WEC's card, there's the two main events. Beyond those, what do think might be a dark horse for Fight of the Night?

Mike Brown - Manny Gamburyan. That could be a great fight. Gamburyan's a tough, tough dude, man. And so is Mike Brown.

Brown is trying to get to another title shot. How far away do you think he is?

I don't know. You've got to wait and see how he fights on Saturday, see how the fight goes, see how it turns out. I don't ever like predicting who's going to fight who next. You've got to get by this guy first and hopefully look impressive doing it.

I'll give you an example. A lot of people thought (Gray) Maynard was in line for the (lightweight) title shot (against BJ Penn). The way he looked against Nate Diaz, I felt he wasn't ready, and even though Frankie had a loss to him, I felt like that was the fight.

Speaking of that, BJ Penn said you guys have been talking to him about an immediate rematch with Frankie Edgar. Is that the plan?

Yeah, I think it deserves a rematch. I think it was a really close fight and I think people would like to see it.

Who did you have winning on your UFC 112 scorecard?

Actually, that night, I hadn't really scored it. I knew for a fact that Frankie won the third and the fifth, but I thought it was really close. Listen, if they'd have raised BJ's hand and said BJ Penn, I wouldn't have been shocked; it didn't shock me when they raised Frankie's. It was that close.

Crow_Time2010-05-17 10:20:03 +0000 #2
Interesting read... I think Dana knows SF buried itself pretty badly Saturday.
MFSQPSFAN2010-05-17 11:02:25 +0000 #3

Originally Posted by Crow_Time

Interesting read... I think Dana knows SF buried itself pretty badly Saturday.

yep, i have no clue why SF didn't re-sign Shields before that fight. they're either going to throw a figure at him that's so high it's unsustainable, or somehow they let one of their few top caliber fighters go to the strongest promotion in MMA.

maybe they were banking on him losing so that they could low-ball him? fucking retarded either way.
Crow_Time2010-05-17 10:25:10 +0000 #4
They're doing what every other promotion was doing before them, putting all their weight behind one or two guys. If Fedor loses they're absolutely fucked.
Crow_Time2010-05-17 10:44:40 +0000 #5
Not to mention the shitty quality of shows they put on, the fights are good, but the way they promote and their production value is a joke. Gus Johnson is a fucktard. Frank Shamrock cant pronounce a name to save his life... And the ramp and pyro is just over the top retarded...
MFSQPSFAN2010-05-17 10:55:58 +0000 #6

Originally Posted by Crow_Time

Not to mention the shitty quality of shows they put on, the fights are good, but the way they promote and their production value is a joke. Gus Johnson is a fucktard. Frank Shamrock cant pronounce a name to save his life... And the ramp and pyro is just over the top retarded...

both points you made i agree with, but this one gets me riled up.

i held out hope that Gus would pick it up quickly and be as good as he is in college basketball. the guy makes March Madness. good games are great, and great games are epic with him commentating. but the guy can't pick up the sport of MMA in a year or so...? he's just looking at this sport as a quick pay-check that wont be around for too long.

three title fights on one card, while for the fans is great, is a rookie move by the promotion. eggs-basket...

this all worked out great for Shields though, his stock just went up significantly.



Other posts in this category