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Dana White Talks Pay-Per-View Aspirations, Strikeforce’s Future, Boring Fighters and More


(“…and then, we’ll have events every hour of every day…”)

In a recent interview he did with Sports Illustrated, UFC president Dana White touched on several hot button topics including his organization’s pay-per-view aspirations, the future of the Strikeforce brand, the fact that Paul Daley will still never be invited back to the UFC, Fedor being a sub-top ten heavyweight, his feelings about fighters like Jon Fitch and much, much more.

Here are The Baldfather‘s thoughts:

On what is going to happen in the next few months with Zuffa:

I don’t know, I don’t know. There is no solution right now. The hard part is, this company’s going through these growing pains right now as we continue to get bigger and continue to work on all the things we’re working on. For the last nine months we’ve been going a million miles an hour, working on all these other deals in the business, you know. Now, we got some things done that … I feel comfortable we’re going to start reeling this thing in and making some changes over the next three, four months. First of all, there’re things going on that I’m unhappy with, here at the company, that we’re going to fix and change over the next few months, and you’re going to see us get back on track here in the next few months. As you start to get bigger and you start to expand into all these different places, and you’re working on all these crazy deals, things start to get out of control. I’m going to get some more control around here in the next three months. And that includes my business as a whole, my actual office and employees and departments, right down to shit that’s going on with the fighters.

On whether or not the changes will include an overhaul of Strikeforce:

No, you know what, that’s another thing. I’ve kind of removed myself from the Strikeforce piece of this thing. You would think it would be the opposite, that some people would be happy about that, but actually some of these fight camps are unhappy that I have removed myself from it. And I’ve been getting some phone calls, and some of these guys that are involved in Strikeforce would like me to be more involved in Strikeforce.

On whether or not he truly doesn’t have a hand in Strikeforce’s day-to-day operations:

Oh, it’s true. Trust me. Ask Lorenzo. Interview Lorenzo, and ask him how involved in Strikeforce I am. It’s absolutely zero. I wanted nothing to do with it, didn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole. So I’ve literally not done anything. I have nothing to do with the Strikeforce piece of this thing, and it’s basically been, Lorenzo’s been working on it with some of the people here that work for us at the UFC.

On whether or not he sees the UFC absorbing Strikeforce:

Well, the fact that I’m not involved in it doesn’t mean that other people aren’t. Just because I’m not involved doesn’t mean that we’re going to absorb it. The thing you have to do — let’s put it this way. Here’s the reality: When your business is thriving and kicking ass, you don’t sell it. The former owners of Strikeforce didn’t sell it to us because it was whupping ass and they were killing it. There’s been offers for the UFC. We don’t sell the UFC. We’re passionate about thing thing, we love it, we believe that we’re the guys who are really leading the charge, we’re the guys with the road map. We’re the ones who know what we’re doing, we created this entire industry. We know what we’re doing.

The bottom line is, Strikeforce — absorbing it? We have a deal with Showtime. If we can turn this thing into a business and make it run, then yes, we would keep Strikeforce. I think anything is possible, you know. I think we’re going to have to have more people focusing on it, including myself. The reason that I did this is because I felt like in buying this thing, that obviously I had been at odds with Showtime, I had been at odds with some of the fighters that were in Strikeforce, and I felt it would be more comfortable for everybody involved if I removed myself from it, and, you know, that’s the reason.

On whether or not he felt vindicated for the criticism he received for calling by Fedor overrated after the once dominant Russian’s recent losses:

No, I don’t feel vindicated. Listen, I’m not out to hurt Fedor, or hurt any fighter. People ask me my opinions, I give you my opinion on what I think about a fighter. It’s like the Kimbo Slice thing. You know, I said, “Kimbo Slice, this guy is always going to be the toughest guy at the barbecue, but he’s never going to da-da-da-da-da.” And then, Kimbo Slice, I give him the offer. “You want to come over? I don’t think you can win The Ultimate Fighter, but I’ll give you the opportunity if you want to try it.” Bring him in, and he doesn’t.

Well, I like Kimbo Slice, ends up the guy is the nicest guy in the world when I meet him, and so is his management. The guys who handled him were great people to work with and everything else. It doesn’t mean that I feel vindicated and I say, “See, I told you, I told you that Kimbo Slice couldn’t do this.”

Listen, I’m in the fight business, and I think that I know a little bit about the fight business. I’ve been in it since I was 19. And I’m going to have my opinions on fighters, just like you sports reporters or the fans, you know? Sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m wrong. I didn’t think that Kimbo Slice could win The Ultimate Fighter. I thought the Fedor hype was ridiculous. And the people who were really as great people as he thought he was weren’t getting their dues, you know?

A guy like Anderson Silva, who’s really fought the best competition in the world since 2006, and beat them all. Even in a fight where he was injured and was getting the s— kicked out him, he pulls off the submission with a minute twenty left in the fight. Those are the guys that deserve to be talked about and deserve to be called the greatest, and you had these reporters who were calling Fedor the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Are you s——- me? You know, it’s stuff like that. But I don’t feel vindicated, I don’t have any dislike toward Fedor. I was just trying to set the record straight and tell these people that they’re out of their minds.

On who he sees winning the fight between Fedor and Dan Henderson Saturday night:

Well, that’s a tough one, you know, because let me tell you what. Although I don’t think Fedor is anywhere near the pound-for-pound list, and as far as heavyweights go, I’d have him toward the bottom of the top 10 and maybe just out of the top 10, here’s what I will not deny Fedor. He can punch, OK? That guy can punch and if he catches you, he can knock you out. The other problem is, though, that he rips easy. His face gets cut very easily, you know. Dan Henderson is tough, he’s got a great chin, he’s got great cardio, and he can knock you out with either hand, too. So that’s going to be a very interesting fight.

If I’ve got to still give Fedor his digs, my dig would be, “Dude, you’re fighting a 185-pounder.” Henderson’s got a great chin, he’s durable, he’s got good wrestling, he can stay out of submissions, and all the great things I can say about Henderson, but Henderson weighs 185 pounds. So I actually think this fight, as far as Fedor is concerned, it’s a lose lose for him. If he knocks out Dan Henderson, he knocks out a 185-pounder. If he gets knocked out, he just got knocked out by a 185-pounder.

On whether or not the UFC is holding too many events, thus watering down the depth of cards:

There aren’t enough shows. The question isn’t are we doing too many shows, there’s going to be more. We’re going to be doing more shows. We’re going to be doing The Ultimate Fighter in other countries. There’s going to be a fight — let’s say we’ve got this fight August 6 in Philly, right? There’s going to be a day very soon where we’re doing a fight August 6th in Philly, and Australia, and Germany. You know, there could be three shows going on at the same time.

On whether or not he should try to influence fighters to change their styles or game plans to entertain fans:

Well, there’s a big difference. There’s a big difference between that and — listen, Anderson Silva was acting like a nutjob that night. The stuff that he was doing, slapping the canvas and running around and basically telling — uh, what’s his name? Who did he fight? Which jiu jitsu kid? Yeah, Demian Maia. That was the only fight I had a problem with. The only fight I had a problem with with Anderson Silva where I went apes— was that fight, because he goes out and starts acting like a lunatic. He’s telling Maia to engage when he’s not engaging either! You know what I mean? That’s a totally different story.

If you want to take a guy who comes out and does something like that and I go after him, you’re damn right I’m going to go after him. But then, I guess another example would be to take a guy like [Jon] Fitch. You know, Fitch doesn’t have the most pleasing style of fighting as far as fans are concerned, but you’ve never seen me cut Fitch, or say, “Yeah, Fitch is going to have to start fighting differently or I’m going to cut him.” It’s not true.

On whether or not he relegated Fitch to the undercard because of his less than appealing conservative style in spite of his success in the Octagon:

I don’t know about that. I think that Fitch has got a shot at the title. Look at Kenny Florian. I mean, Kenny Florian has had to work his way back up to get a shot at the title, too. Plus, a lot of other things play factors. Guys get injured, now Fitch is injured. It’s a lot more than that. I don’t think there’s anything that threatens our legitimacy, because I’ve never gone out and said, “You’re going to have to change your style of fighting or you won’t be in the UFC.” I mean, if that was the case, believe me, there’s a lot of guys that I’d go after. But what guys do need to do is they need to be exciting, and they need to go out and put on exciting fights. I don’t know, do you want to sit around and watch Klitschko-type fights? That’s the problem with boxing! The way that I look at this is, this is a job. It’s a job! And it’s no different than the NFL or any other sport. If you don’t go out and perform your job, you get fired.

On whether or not it’s a fighters job to entertain, or rather to win fights:

Sure. But you’ve got to be exciting! If all we cared about was guys winning fights, you know how many wrestlers could just go lay on a guy? There are tons of wrestlers that could do that. I don’t know. Do you think we’d be talking about all these big plans and all the exciting things that we’re going to be doing if that was the case? I mean, that’s a pretty stupid question. If somebody really asks that question, you’d have to look at them and go, “Are you stupid?” Seriously, it’s a really dumb question.

On why it’s a stupid question:

Why do guys have to put on exciting fights? Well, let’s see. We’re in the television and pay-per-view business. I don’t know. I don’t know too many people that tune in to watch unexciting fights.

On the fact that some of his biggest draws like Randy Couture and GSP aren’t known for being exciting:

I agree. Have you ever heard me say, “Hey Randy, you better change up your style?” You know, people have been complaining about Georges St-Pierre. Have you heard me say anything publicly about Georges St-Pierre? No! I think there’s a big difference between — the only time you’ve ever seen me say I didn’t like a guy’s fight was Anderson Silva, when he went out and did what he did in Abu Dhabi. That’s the only time you’ve ever really seen me flip out and say that.

On the fact that he has been openly vocal about his distaste for the Jackson camp’s conservative style:

Listen, I’m a fight fan. When I see a fight that I don’t like, I’m gonna tell you I didn’t like it. Because, you know, I’m a fight fan just like everybody else. I’m not so disconnected and not the promoter that I’ve got to go out and lie to people and say, “You just saw a great fight! I don’t care what you say, it was exciting, it was fantastic, and you should have loved it!” No, I’m going to say, “Guess what? I didn’t like it either. I thought it sucked. And I thought it was boring.” Because I’m a fight fan, too.

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ccman- July 28, 2011 at 9:45 am
Fitch being denied a second title shot reasons
1. he was dominated by GSP the first time
2. he has not shown improvement since then
3. he was and remains arguably the 2nd best on his own team, refused to fight Kos for #1, and Kos was brutalized by GSp 2x.
4. He went to a draw with BJ, who was completely handled by GSP, when a title shot was on the line.
5. if we did believe in miracles, who really wants a Fitch championship reign?
mDino- July 28, 2011 at 8:42 am
i couldn't even read it because DW will say anything. He will do what he wants even if it contradicts these statements
Dana_Plight- July 28, 2011 at 5:39 am
Yea, Kenny Florian worked his way up the featherweight fast track with one fight...hard work.
mothercruncher- July 28, 2011 at 1:14 am
There's no mention of Paul Daley in those quotes...
RSparrow- July 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm
I say, keep business and all shows going on as usual but come January 2012, combine Strikeforce once and for all. Three straight losses you're out for any fighter. Combine the fights right, and you can have a premiere UFC league filled with the greatest talent strikeforce has to offer as an addition. Get involved Dana, everyone needs to be on the same page, fucking monarchy the fight game.
BaghdadBob- July 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm
This interview shows that Dana is in over his head. He's taken the UFC far but he'll never be capable of managing the organization at the level of events and viewers that he envisions.
GRMC09- July 27, 2011 at 8:05 pm
I like how Dana stated that Florian had to work his way back to the title when discussing Fitch. Florian is about to get his 4th ufc title shot with a record of 12-4 in the octagon; meanwhile Fitch is 13-1-1 with only one title shot. Dana you are pretty full of it sometimes.
Dojima- July 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm
Interviews like this sort of make me inclined to believe his mother a smidge. Nearly every question is filled with blatant fabrications. And not even good ones. Manic fabrications from a warped mind with little grasp on reality. He's a Donald Trump that's cool with being bald.
Bob Reilly- July 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm
Fightzen, you're an Idiot.
FightZen- July 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm
Wait... what?

"The question isn’t are we doing too many shows, there’s going to be more. We’re going to be doing more shows"

That IS still the question, and not only does adding more not answer that question, it kind of proves it is too many...
towelie- July 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm
“Sept. 10 was the date Showtime wants us to go, so it’s the date we’ve got to go. It’s unfortunate that Alistair is unavailable, but situations like this are why there are alternates in the tournament.”
intercept440- July 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm
yea that shit was crazy ass street raid. funny thing is, they never showed that on the news at all down here. things like that that happen on the strip they like to keep quiet, so as to not scares the tourism part of it, there been 4 stabbing deaths on the strip just with a few weeks of each other recently, the cops kept a few of them out of the press cause they was right on the strip
Miles- July 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm
if that's such a stupid and ridiculous question to ask, then maybe you should threaten Fitch with being cut. He's in the television and pay-per-view business and he does not entertain. You are dumb for not firing him, by your logic.
KINGMADE- July 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm
I think he cut Kalib Starnes somewhere near the middle of round 3.
Maine Blazer- July 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm
"but you’ve never seen me cut Fitch..." except for that one time when I totally cut Fitch.
Fried Taco- July 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm
If DW was really a fight fan, he'd book the trashy people in that "crazy street fight in Vegas" video.
Fried Taco- July 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm
My lie detector is going nuts here. Must be a malfunction.
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