ANAHEIM -- UFC
president Dana White showed up to the post-fight press conference after his organization's network debut on FOX looking more relieved than elated.
"I feel great," he insisted almost defensively, before the question was even finished. "It's behind me. I've been waiting for this."
In fairness, this was the end of an incredibly stressful period in White's life. The Cain Velasquez
-Junior dos Santos
bout he'd hyped as "the biggest fight in UFC history" had ended in just one minute and four seconds after a hard right hand from dos Santos sent Velasquez on the path toward defeat. As many viewers of the post-fight show on FOX noted, White's commentary about Velasquez's performance didn't make him sound terribly pleased about the effort he'd gotten from his champion on the big night.
But as White told reporters inside the Honda Center on Saturday night, he knew the risks of putting two heavyweights in the cage from the very beginning.
"I said it in the first press conference: this thing could go 30 seconds or this thing could go 25 minutes. We'll see. Either way it'll be a great fight and it was. That's what happens when you put two heavyweights in there who bang. Anything can happen. ...As soon as those fights start, whatever happens happens. There's nothing you can do about that. We can't control the fights."
As for his remarks about Velasquez's game plan, questioning why he didn't try harder to use his wrestling skills and get dos Santos to the mat, White painted himself as just another observer with his own take on the proceedings.
"I wouldn't say that I was critical," said White. "I had an opinion. When we went back to the post[-fight] show, I said, you know, I don't understand why Cain wouldn't have shot, gone in for the shot, try to work, pressure him, and not stay in his range and try to bang with Junior in the early rounds. But what the hell am I? I'm not anybody's coach or trainer. It was just my impression about the fight."
A soft-spoken Velasquez admitted he'd strayed from his own strategy, brief though the fight was, saying his original goal had been to establish his striking game and "if the takedown is there, take it."
"It was my fault," said the former champion. "I didn't pressure him enough. The game plan was to go in there and pressure."
Even though the fight ended with a definitive TKO, White didn't seem particularly thrilled with how quickly it was over, and with good reason. A 64-second fight leaves little opportunity for ratings to build from the pre-fight show, and might make a poor impression on first-time viewers who haven't seen the sport before.
Meanwhile, the undercard bout between lightweights Ben Henderson
and Clay Guida
was a three-round thriller that streamed on Facebook and FoxSports.com rather than airing on the network broadcast. Had FOX opted to air that fight as well, it might have helped ratings reach a greater peak for the main event, though don't tell that to White, who pointed out that this was a special introduction show -- not a part of the UFC-FOX deal.
"For anybody to bitch about this fight and how they didn't get to see that fight -- shut up," he said. "You should have bought tickets if you wanted to see all the fights and you don't like to watch it on Facebook. Seriously, shut up. I don't even want to hear it."
Regardless of what the ratings turn out to be in the U.S., White claimed that dos Santos' home country tuned in to the fast and furious fight en masse, with an estimated viewing audience of 60 million.
"60 million people," White repeated. "There's 200 million people in the country. That's pretty crazy."
Upon hearing this, a grin spread across dos Santos' face. "I'm famous," said the new UFC heavyweight champion.
And regardless of how longtime MMA
fans might criticize the UFC's presentation in its network debut, White termed it "the perfect night" from a production standpoint, and cautioned that broadcasting on FOX isn't as simple as some might think.
"What you guys have to understand is tonight we were talking to people who had never seen the UFC before. We weren't talking to the hardcore fans. We weren't talking to the people who'd been watching for years. We were talking to and trying to educate people who'd never seen it before. Now that we're on a mainstream platform, many of you don't realize all the battles we fight behind the scenes. It's crazy. Every freaking weirdo comes out from everywhere. You know, 'fighting is on TV!' We've been on TV for six years, coalition of 'I have nothing better to do.' We have to ease into this thing."