Dana White was interviewed by Forbes $ports Money while he was in Toronto for UFC 129 last month and as always the UFC president had a lot to say.
Among other items, The Baldfather touched on some hot button topics like the UFC’s plans for Strikeforce, whether or not women’s MMA will survive the merger and what prompted the minority stake sale of 10 percent of the company to Flash Entertainment.
Here’s what White had to say:
About why the UFC purchased Strikeforce:
“Well, Strikeforce was for sale. The funny thing about the reputation that we have is that we’re anti-competition, which couldn’t be further from the truth. But the reality is, as we continue to expand and grow, we do need more fighters and we love the content. We need more content. The one thing that these guys have who do it right, and the ones that we usually end up buying, is they have a great library, they have a stable of fighters and if they have a name and a television deal like Strikeforce did, that’s not a bad thing either.”
About whether or not he sees Strikeforce existing separately from the UFC for the long term:
“The thing with Strikeforce is, when we acquired them they have a deal with Showtime. We’re working with Showtime now, which I’ve had a very rocky relationship with, but Lorenzo is working with them right now, and we’re gonna try to run this thing separately and we’ll see how it goes.We’ll see if we can pull this thing off and make it happen. If it didn’t happen, the worst case scenario that happens if we own Strikeforce is these guys roll over into the UFC.”
About whether or not he feels the the skill level of athletes will continue to evolve as fast as it has:
“Yeah, well that’s our thing. The great thing about this sport is mixed martial arts is the new martial art. When you and I were growing up, parents would put you in karate or tae kwon do and stuff like that. Kids are taking mixed martial arts. This is what women, children, businessmen, guys who want to fight — this is what they train in and not just here, but all over the world. I’m in a position right now where I can get a fighter from anywhere in the world right now. As this thing continues to grow and progress, guys that would have played baseball, basketball, football — guys who are real athletes — you’re going to see a lot of them becoming mixed martial artists.”
About whether or not women’s MMA has a future under th Zuffa banner:
“There’s this big misconception out there about me that I don’t like women’s fighting and everything else. I have no problem with women’s fighting. The problem I have right now — and it was a problem with boxing and it’s a problem with MMA right now — is that you don’t have enough women who are good enough to create an entire division. So what you get are a couple of women who are very good and a lot of women that really aren’t, and I don’t like lopsided fights, especially with women. So as this sport continues to grow, if there are more and more women where you can actually create an entire division with a lot of talented women, I’m all about it.”
About why Zuffa decided to part with a 10 percent share of the company to Abu Dhabi-based Flash Entertainment:
“Everybody was coming at us and wanted to either buy or buy into it and we didn’t need the money. There was no added value in bringing in any of these guys, so it didn’t make sense. But when we hooked up with Flash Entertainment from Abu Dhabi, these guys are the largest investment firm in the world. Not only do they have the capital, but these guys have relationships. This was more of a strategic move for us. These guys were good business partners to get in, especially as we continue to expand. Can we fly over there and set up meetings in China? I don’t know. Maybe we can do it. With these guys we can.”