Last night on FUEL TV, UFC President Dana White sat down with our own Ariel Helwani for an extended interview that covered a broad range of subjects and stretched beyond the usual day-to-day MMA drama. Speaking as honestly as possible, White touched on everything from his battles with Meniere's disease and initial bouts of stage fright, to his dealings with FOX and the biggest regret of his decade-long tenure with the UFC.
I know FUEL TV isn't the most widely-received channel, so if you missed the conversation, feel free to check out a collection of choice quotes below.
What White takes the most pride in: "There are a lot of things I'm really proud of. We've revolutionized the fight business. We've done things in the fight business that nobody has ever done in the history of combat sports, including health insurance for fighters. We're tweaking and fixing things. It seems like every way you turn, someone is waiting for you to fail. I tell you what: they'll be waiting a long time for this one to fail."
Challenges of the FOX deal: "It doesn't matter what year it is or what relationship it is, there's always challenges with your business. I like it. I like the fact that we have to change things up. We have to figure things out that we didn't realize in the beginning. It's been interesting but fun. I told you when we got into this FOX deal, the next two years were going to be critical, and I'm having fun."
Biggest lesson learned from FOX deal so far: "I don't think there've been any lessons. I think we're learning how to work with each other. This is a different deal for FOX than they've ever been in before. We control the production and we're on three different networks -- FUEL TV, FX and big FOX. So there are a lot of things that we needed to tweak, but we're in a really good place right now. I'm feeling really good at the end of the year."
Dealing with gripes from fans: "I've been hearing these things for 12 years. I'm actually one of these guys who listens to the fans. I talk to them on Twitter and on The Underground. Some fans have great ideas and some are complete morons. Sometimes you hear some good feedback and other times you hear stupid things. When you start critiquing stuff like music, stupid stuff like that, go start your own MMA organization.
"One of the biggest complaints I got when we started this FOX deal was the NFL music. They all call it the FOX NFL music. It's not the NFL music; it's the FOX Sports music. So if you watch any sporting event on FOX, that's the music they play. I like being on FOX Sports."
Status of TUF: "There are a lot of the things we're working on. Obviously we're working on The Ultimate Fighter. We gave it a shot doing TUF Live. What we found out is people actually do like the reality and want to see more of what went on in the house that week, which is almost impossible to do leading up into a live fight. We're bringing back The Ultimate Fighter. TUF Live isn't dead. I'd like to give it another shot.
"[TUF 16] is not a make or break year. There are some things that we all did wrong. And we need to fix them. It's all part of running a business. The thing about us is we're not afraid of taking risks. If we were, we wouldn't be sitting here right now. This whole business has been a risk since day one."
Growing into the spotlight: "That was the first time I had ever spoken on TV. Now I speak at the Bill Gates CEO Summit every year, and I speak at every single college. If you think of all the places I've spoken at, it's crazy. Originally when we bought this thing, before we'd do a press conference, I'd be up for hours writing notes and studying everything that was going on. And a lot of people who were there will remember this one: When the UFC was getting licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, we went before the commission and everything was all done, our lawyers were handling everything.
"That day one of the commissioners calls me up to the podium, and that wasn't supposed to happen. I walk up to the podium and they ask me a question. Today, I don't remember it, but I started to respond, ‘Zuffa, LLC is a ...' and I froze. And they had to get a dolly up there to take me back to the seat. Lorenzo asked me ‘What was that?' and I completely froze. And that's never happened again. I'm just saying over time you learn and you get more relaxed and you get better at what you do, and you get more crusty, too. I'm definitely a lot nastier than I used to be."
If he's the greatest fight promoter of all time: "I have no idea. I don't think I'd be someone who would make that decision. I think there are a lot of great promoters. People know who Barnum is, Vince McMahon has been around a long time. Don King. Mamma Kardashian, if she isn't the greatest promoter of all time, I don't know who is. The show is about nothing and her daughters are some of the most famous people on earth and are making millions. I don't think you could count her out. I'm very proud of what we've been able to do and we've done things that people have never done before, things even boxing couldn't do in its heyday. I don't think about who's the greatest promoter of all time."
If he ever tried to emulate other promoters: "No, never. I was always a fan of fighting, all types of fighting, not just boxing. I was a huge Bruce Lee fan, I loved Chuck Norris, I loved fighting. There are a lot of things that I thought could be done to make the sport of fighting better. When you come to the live event, and what you feel at that live event, the things that I implemented are the things I grew up and wanted to do."
If he thinks about retirement: "No, I'm 43. People ask me that question like I'm 73. I'm probably 73 in UFC years. Regardless of my age, there're a lot of things that need to be done. I believe me and the Fertittas and our crew at Zuffa have built a pretty awesome road map and game plan of where this thing is going to go. Now it needs to be executed and needs to be done. We're going into all these countries, but I don't really want to talk about them now. This thing is nowhere near where it's going to be. Every day I go to work and I know what has to be done, but it's the stupid stuff that happens that I have to deal with that takes you off track and you maybe get to spend two hours dealing with the stuff you have to do. It's all the BS and the fires that come up."
If he's still committed to his job: "I better be. My travelling schedule isn't slowing down. I'm in meetings for days. What people don't understand about this business and they don't understand when you get into it is because it looks fun, easy and anyone could do it. But it's the opposite. It's the hardest business in the world to make really successful. It's a lot of hard work. I always say it's like having a tiny little baby that you have to feed and change the diapers. This baby can't live without you paying attention with it. That's what it's like except the UFC doesn't sleep. It's a beast."
On his health and battles with Meniere's disease: "I feel alright. I'm really starting to feel like me again. The doctor wouldn't do the surgery. He said I was too young. He gave me medication that only works for 50 percent of the people who get it. I guess I'm the 50 percent. It seems to be working for me."
Jon Jones' next opponent: "I don't know. When the deals are done, they're done. A lot of guys are injured right now. At the end of the year a lot of guys are coming back from injury and guys are dropping daily and we'll see what happens."
His biggest regret: "You guys have to understand this, but this is the way I am. I have no regrets. The only thing that I regret is in that video blog when I used the F word. That's the only thing throughout the 12 years of running the UFC. The way I came off in that thing, people still think I'm some kind of homophobe, and I'm not. That still bothers me."
All in all, revealing stuff from the UFC President. We'll have more in the Stew below, but first, let's get to some headlines.
6 MUST-READ STORIES
Mitrione explains turning down Cormier. UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione defended his decision to turn down a replacement fight against Daniel Cormier, stating, "Wrestling is, by far, my weakest skill. I'm working hard on my wrestling, but it would be a huge weakness against me in a short notice fight against Cormier. ... If I thought I was ready for Cormier, I would fight him."
White 'likes' Jones vs. Cormier. When propositioned with a Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier superfight, UFC President Dana White remarked that he "liked" the idea and it would be an "interesting" match-up.
Brenneman cut from UFC. Welterweight Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman announced his release from the UFC on Tuesday morning. Despite the setback, Brenneman made it clear he'd like to fight as soon as possible and his ultimate goal is to "get back to the big show."
TUF ratings hit new low. The third episode of The Ultimate Fighter 16 pulled in just 775,000 viewers, setting a new record for the lowest viewership of a TUF episode. To put it in perspective, viewership for this season has dropped a remarkable 18-percent since the premiere.
Volkmann criticizes 'fat Internet turds.' Speaking with The Score, lightweight wrestler Jacob Volkmann said this of his critics: "I don't understand why people say my fights are boring. ... You know there's some fat turds out there having his heyday because he has a forum and wants to write some bad stuff about me, but he doesn't understand the sport. I really don't care about those guys."
Thai king trying to set up Pacquiao vs. Por Pramuk. Boxing promoters in Thailand are pushing hard to stage a far-fetched match-up of boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao vs. kickboxing legend Buakow Por Pramuk to celebrate the Thai king's 85th birthday. Said one of the promoters: "No matter how much [money] Pacquiao demands this fight, we will make it happen."
We already covered some of it up there in the intro, but there's still plenty to check out from last night's Dana White interview in the playlist below.
The top-3 'Rampage being Rampage' moments from yesterday's feature, ranked from scary to hilarious: 1.) Don't you dare film him (42:25), 2.) Santa better mind his own business (:32), and 3.) The quote of the year (23:39).
So, Dave Bautista is now fighting Vince Lucero, the 40-year-old with the 22-22-1 record, on five days notice. You know who else fought Lucero recently? Tim Sylvia. And it went about how you'd expect.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. These guys need their own show.
For some reason the WWE decided to take a little jab at the UFC on Monday Night Raw. Low blow, guys. Low blow.
(via Zombie Prophet)
SAY GOODBYE TO THE SPANIARD
Charlie Brenneman (@SpaniardMMA) October 2, 2012
Complete ACL tear. Gotta be seen right away. Sweet!— Duane Ludwig (@DUANEBANGCOM) October 2, 2012
INDEED, DANA. INDEED
Announced yesterday (Tuesday, October 2, 2012):
- UFC 154: Steven Siler (21-9) vs. Darren Elkins (14-2)
- TUF 16 Finale: Rustam Khabilov (14-1) vs. Vinc Pichel (6-0)
- TUF 16 Finale: Reuben Duran (8-3-1) vs. Hugo Viana (6-0)
- TUF 16 Finale: Johnny Bedford (18-9-1) vs. Marcos Vinicius (20-3-1)
- WSOF 1: Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (13-4) vs. D.J. Linderman (14-3)
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day is a little different, and it comes from our own Luke Thomas: How to write a good FanPost (and why you should)
One of the better aspects to writing on one of the various SB Nation platforms is the ability to cultivate (from the editor's perspective) and interact with the community. From our commenting tools to our FanPosts and FanShots, the community can be and should be as much a part of the site's identity as any staff member's contribution. That's why I'm excited MMA Fighting finally offers readers the use of FanPosts.
What are FanPosts? Pretty simple, really: posts made by readers and fans of MMA.
But they're more than that, too. FanPosts are essentially a commentary on the state of online communities today. As honored as I am to be working with this tremendous staff on this site as my daily occupation, we are but a few people. We cannot be everywhere or know everything or think of every solution to every problem. And when we try, we'll be sometimes wrong or misinformed. That's where online communities come into play.
Strong communities offer something irreplaceable. They fill in the blanks, fact check, offer their own narratives, make their own jokes, report their own news, offer information that no one previously had, do their own stats work and so on. In short, communities, when they thrive, often work hand in hand with site staff to more fully inform, entertain and engage the larger readers' experience.
We already have a strong community today, but this new tool empowers the reader like never before. With FanPosts, you can write your own opinion article, challenge the conclusion of one of our writers, report on historical research you've done, share a funny video you've found, and so on. With the FanPost (and FanShot), you make the site experience richer, deeper and more in keeping with what it sets out to be.
So, how do you do it? Rather than issue a detailed explanation here, I'd recommend the following two excellent posts who explain (with pictures and clear instructions) better that I can:
- SB Nation's 'FanPost Help Guide': a great how-to in terms of writing a post from A to Z. If you have any questions related to the publishing process, this post has you covered.
- Die By The Blade's 'FanPost User Guide': another great how-to post, but also one that explains the keys to what makes a FanPost good.
Why should you write a FanPost? Several reasons.
First, you've got a story to tell and a voice that probably deserves to be heard. Your feedback in our forums or comments is appreciated, but a FanPost is a way to more formally offer your viewpoint. Besides, when you're commenting, you're reacting to us. When you write a FanPost, everyone reacts to you.
Second, we feed off of your work. We use FanPosts every day in our Morning Report. When MMA fans post pictures and tell stories from the journeys to MMA events or foreign countries for combat sports fun, your contributions make our experiences on this site better. And if you turn in truly special work, we'll find special ways to feature it.
Third, some of SB Nation's top writers were discovered in the FanPosts. To be clear, I'm not saying I can promise you a job if you start pumping out stellar work. But what I can say is it's a great way to start a portfolio of work if you're an aspiring journalist or get some attention on work you've already produced. If you want to make a name for yourself on the back of your work, the FanPosts are a great place to do it.
Lastly, you've lived your life. You've got your own experiences and expertises. You know things we don't. We look to you to share those things for the better of us all. We don't deserve it, but we ask for it and we know we're better for it.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.