Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White confirmed Tuesday that he plans to make the Washington D.C. market a new destination for his growing martial arts business.
White said that he expects the show's attendance numbers to confirm his belief that the Washington area is a fertile place to bring bigger shows such as Saturday's UFC 104, a pay-per-view event that will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. UFC 104 features a main event between current light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
The Jan. 11 show is "not a market test," said White. "We don't test markets. We go in and we pretty much know what we're going to do when we go in. We believe that there's enough people that live there and will travel there that this thing will sell out quick."
I'll go on the record now and say I'll be surprised if the UFC achieves a sell out of the Patriot Center, although I do anticipate they'll set the all-time MMA attendance record at the venue that's currently held by the UWC.
And speaking of the UWC and the grossly inept Virginia athletic commission, Koubaroulis uncovered this:
Foran, however, said on Tuesday that he has doubts about his organization returning to Patriot Center, citing a lack of support from local martial arts schools, businesses and media as well as a controversial ending to Anacostia native Mike Easton's fight earlier this month against Chase Beebe. Easton was declared the winner in a split decision over Beebe during UWC7: Redemption on Oct. 3. Foran and many others dispute the decision and blame Virginia's athletic commission for a botched scorecard.
"Here I am and I'm talking to Dana White and [UFC Vice President] Joe Silva and saying here's a great market you need to go to," Foran said. "And now I feel like I get screwed on a call on a fight. We're not saying we wouldn't come back to D.C. but what option do we have? In D.C., I'm dragging people to the finish line and other places they are throwing venues and incentives at me."
I still cannot believe the UFC has not offered comment on the situation regarding Virginia's athletic commission. White has not passed on a single opportunity to publicly denigrate referees who he believes are not up to the task of their professional responsibilities, e.g. Steve Mazzagatti, yet we have not received word about how the world's premier organization feels about an athletic commission that allows fighters to compete while wearing pants.
I also find it strangely ironic that the biggest regional show in the area is (at least temporarily) leaving because of a motivated albeit burgeoning fanbase, unwilling media partners and inept commission while the world's most significant organization is making their first appearance. I certainly hope the UFC's entrance in the market spurs more fan and media interest while their proactive guidance of the athletic commission helps to shore up that body's glaring deficiencies. But I'm also alarmed that such a gross injustice can be done to fighters and promoters in the area in such closely timed proximity without the UFC so much as acknowledging something is amiss and needs to be corrected.
I'm happy to be able to attend a local UFC show, but not at the cost paid by Jose Villarisco, Freddy Assuncao and Chase Beebe. Why is there silence?