After our little dust up on Twitter, UFC President Dana White promised me an interview for my radio show on 106.7 The Fan. I spoke to the fighting executive over the phone at the 106.7 studios today as part of his larger media tour for UFC 116. We spoke about what'd you expect: Fedor, Lesnar vs. Carwin and more. But we also dove into some other areas: the potential of a UFC show in Okinawa, a love of Kazushi Sakuraba, MMA rankings and more.
This was an interview I was not owed and did not deserve, but received nevertheless. There were quite a few statements made by White I didn't agree with, but I was thankful for the opportunity and humbled by his generosity.
You can get the podcast at the 106.7 The Fan website or click the link below. This interview will be replayed on 106.7 The Fan over the weekend.
Dana White on UFC 116’s main event between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin:
I’m pumped about this fight. At the end of the day I’m a fight fan too. And this is a real heavyweight fight. I believe this is the biggest heavyweight fight in UFC history. Brock Lesnar is an absolute beast. The way he burst onto the scene, won the title, beat the guys he’s beat, he’s done something that I didn’t think he could do. I didn’t think it was possible with as little fights and experience he had. And a lot of people have felt that since he’s been here, he’s so big, so massive, and so explosive that there should be a super heavyweight division. Well, he’s facing a guy now who weighs 265 pounds, can knock you out with either hand, can submit you, and has never been pushed past the first round in twelve fights. Undefeated. All first round finishes. Anybody that knows anything about mixed martial arts knows it’s hard to go undefeated. And not only to go undefeated, but to stop everybody in the first round, and to do it against guys like Gabriel Gonzaga and Frank Mir, that’s pretty impressive. This is a huge heavyweight match up.
On who he feels is the biggest loser out after Fedor Emelianenko’s loss out of Fedor, Strikeforce, and M-1 Global:
I think they’re all a bunch of losers. Here’s the thing. And everybody knows how long I’ve been saying this and everybody probably thought I was just saying it because I couldn’t come to terms with him. I don’t believe a guy who hasn’t fought anybody since 2005 should be considered one of the best fighters in the world. Yes, he was one of the best in what he accomplished back in the old days, but he hasn’t been fighting anybody recently. And now he just lost to a guy who couldn’t make it in the UFC. And the other thing, they didn’t sell any tickets to that fight. They did under a million-dollar gate, I don’t care what they say publicly, they did under a million-dollar gate. And they did 400 thousand viewers on television. So what that tells me is, nobody cares. The reality is the media, and a few guys on the Internet have pumped this guy up. I can’t believe nobody sees through the B.S.
On David Haye’s recent claims that James Toney is delusional for fighting in the UFC:
He is very right. It’s a freak show. I said I’d never put on a freak show fight and I’m doing it. Listen, this guy [Toney] chased me around the country saying bad things about the sport. If he wants to get his ass whooped, I’m gonna let him. You want me to tell you, ‘James Toney vs. Randy Couture is gonna be the greatest fight in the history of the sport?’ No. I’m building a great card around this fight. You’re not buying the James Toney vs. Randy Couture fight alone. Here’s what I expect; the bell rings, they come to the center of the Octagon, circle each other for a little bit, Randy double legs him, puts him against the fence, squashes his head and the fight is over. But I’m not delusional. We started filming the UFC 118 Countdown show, and as fat as James Toney is, all the guys working on the show say his hands are like lightning, they’re so fast. You can’t disrespect the guy for what he’s accomplished in his career. He could catch Randy and knock him out. Everybody has a puncher’s chance. God forbid.
On what type of business he feels the UFC could have done if they signed him earlier and was able to put on a Fedor vs. Brock Lesnar fight, and if he has any interest to pursue signing Fedor now:
I believe that if we would have been able to take him into the UFC last year, or even right before this loss, and promoted him properly, we could have done big, big business. Now I have no interest in him. Zero. I didn’t think he was great before. It was the media. As soon as he lost, my phone started blowing up and it was media guys being like, ‘what do you think about him losing?’ What do you mean what do I think about him losing? Did you guys hear me saying he was great ever? It was the exact opposite. Like I said earlier, they had 400 thousand people who watched that fight. We did a taped event on Spike TV, versus his live event, and we had 1.5 million viewers. I mean, 400 thousand viewers. The Strikeforce event before this one did 165 thousand viewers. More people watch my video blogs than watched that fight.
On how he feels about now having the undisputed champion of every major weight class under the Zuffa umbrella:
I had it all along. Whatever these websites put out there doesn’t mean jack. You know how you find out who the best guy in the world is? It’s the guy who fights the very best three times a year. That’s who the best is. Should Fedor have been ranked in the top ten in the heavyweight division? Absolutely. But not the top of the heap. I wouldn’t even put him in the top five right now because he hasn’t fought anybody since 2005. Where does beating Brett Rogers get you? Where does beating Andrei Arlovski get you? If he had beaten Fabricio Werdum last weekend, where does that get you? Where does beating those type of guys get you? Nowhere. Imagine him coming to the UFC’s heavyweight division. He’d have to fight guys like Gabriel Gonzaga, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, and Shane Carwin. You got to get through some nasty, nasty guys in the UFC. And the fighters I just mentioned are fighting those type of guys three times a year. They’re the best heavyweights in the world.
On the potential of a UFC event in Afghanistan:
I don’t know man; we’re trying to pull it off. The crazy thing is that it’s been pushed back because the place we were gonna hold the event just got attacked really badly.
On if he would have any interest in signing Alistair Overeem when he becomes a free agent:
Here we go. Alistair Overeem is gonna be the new guy? Alistsair Overeem got knocked out by Chuck Liddell at 205. You know what’s funny? Because we don’t have him signed he’ll be the new guy. The guy that Chuck knocked out at 205. All the UFC haters will be like, ‘oh yeah, this guy is the best.’ And all the idiot websites will rank him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
On the death of MMA fighter Robert Kirkham and the overall safety in MMA, particularly in smaller promotions:
Here’s the deal. Everybody thinks that I’m a hater and that I’m trying to control everything. No. The reality is that if you can’t afford to do the proper medical testing of your fighters, you have no business being in the fight business. That’s what’s wrong with these smaller promotions. The UFC has saved people’s lives. There have been young kids who come and try out for The Ultimate Fighter who we find out have brain aneurisms. Anybody could have a brain aneurism. You could have one, I could have one. It’s not from fighting. But you have to detect that and be able to get it taken care of. Thiago Alves had one and we took care of that. Think about this; since the UFC started back in 1993, 63 kids have died playing high school football. You don’t hear about that in the newspapers every day. You don’t’ hear about people running around trying to ban football. There has never been a death in the UFC since 1993. These smaller promotions can’t afford to do the proper medical testing. And if they can’t afford to do it, they shouldn’t be doing fights.