Scott Cunningham, Getty Images
LAS VEGAS - Bad luck is running in bunches this year for the UFC, but president Dana White says the recent string of injuries and rescheduled fights is just an unfortunate byproduct of MMA's continued growth.
"The only way it can be explained is it's a string of horrible (expletive) luck," White said, during a media gathering on Thursday.
"We don't lose the first two guys on the (UFC 153) card falling out, we got the main (Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar) and co-main event (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira) falling out — which is the worst (expletive) thing that can happen. That's what has been happening to us. It's just bad luck."
Of course many MMA fans beg to differ, blaming underwhelming cards, too many events, and fighters wrongfully taking advantage of injury insurance as factors behind the UFC's recent lineup woes.
"I've been so (expletive) tired of answering this question over the last couple of days about fighter insurance, there's too many events, the lists goes on and on," White said.
But White says outside of uncontrollable injuries the biggest problem for scheduling big bouts recently is top fighters have gotten "fat and rich."
"The biggest (expletive) problem is we got too many rich guys. Too many guys that are rich as (expletive)," White said. "Money is the biggest detriment to the fight business. Back in the old days when we were just getting going, dudes had to pay the (expletive) rent.
"Once the money starts to pile up. You get some of these guys who have a few million in the bank, getting punched in the face everyday isn't too (expletive) cool. But when guys are (expletive) hungry and they want that (expletive) money and want to get out there and get more of it and more of it and more of it.
"Back in the old days, the guys were always in shape. When you're hungry and you want to get to that level, that's how these guys train. Then once you make a few dollars, I'm on vacation. I got to track guys down. He's in the (expletive) jungle of Brazil. … It's just not as easy as it used to be."
Obviously in the most recent injury case, when featherweight champion and scheduled UFC 153 headliner Jose Aldo got into a motorcycle crash in Rio de Janeiro, there's little White or the UFC would be able to control — even with contract stipulations.
"Yes, I could put in the contracts, 'You're not driving a (expletive) motorcycle,'" White said. "But I'm not with him. If I say, 'No (expletive) motorcycles,' and a fighter rides a motorcycle anyway and hurts himself, what am I going to do?
"We can't hurt him worse than he already hurt himself. Now he's not going to make any money for a year-and-a-half. He's not going to fight. He just lost a year-and-a-half of his career. He's going to hurt himself more than I could ever hurt him."
White is even quicker to dismiss the fact that there seems to be an abundance of normal training injuries due to the increased number of fights the promotion is putting on over the last couple of years.
"How bout the fact that we're doing too many fights, that's why there are so many injuries?" White said. "Ok so let's say we have 30 (expletive) fights a year instead of however many we have now. People are still going to get (expletive) hurt. There will be less injuries because there will be less (expletive) fights. Less fights, mean less guys under contract.
"If we have less fights, we don't have a 155-pound division and under. We're back to 170 and up. Of course there are going to be more injuries, there are more (expletive) fighters training."
White is even quicker to shoot down the theory of an oversaturation of events has led to a lack of quality bouts on more and more cards.
"It wouldn't be deeper (if there were less cards)," White said. "I'd have less guys under contract. I'd be cultivating less talent around the world in every weight division. For the thing to grow, you got to have more fighters. You got to have more weight classes. You have to have more fighters training and coming up the ranks and more ability to make money. The more people will gravitate to the sport, the more money that's going to be involved in it.
"The more money, the more weight classes, the more fights, it's what needs to be done for the sport to grow. And there's demand for it. It's not like we're putting on all these fights and (expletive) three people are showing up. We're still breaking records and all these different things."
The president's temper flared when he talked about fans' even more absurd thought process of blaming the UFC's recent woes on fighters taking advantage of the newly offered injury insurance.
"It so easy to look at it and go fighter insurance. Fighter insurance is the greatest (expletive) thing that could ever happen in the history of the fight business," he said. "They were always covered during fights … but most of the problems happen in training.
"There were situations where a guy would blow his (expletive) knee out and then come in with that knee injury into the fight and say it happened in the fight and get their knee fixed. That's not saving a (expletive) fight, that's stupid, that's ridiculous. That's why we wanted health insurance. If you blow your (expletive) knee out, then go get your knee fixed. Then you come back and you fight. You shouldn't have all that stress and all that damage it can do to your life over an injury in a sport and we fixed that. That's a good thing, that's never a (expletive) bad thing. People that say that are (expletive) nuts."
An old-school boxing fan, White does buy into an increased intensity during training camps, which in MMA features a number of fighters preparing for bouts all at the same time, could have led to some avoidable injuries.
"That's different mentality in mixed martial arts compared to boxing. In boxing when you build a (expletive) camp and you brought guys in as sparring partners, they where there to work for you," White said. "They're not in there to (expletive) knock you out, they're in there for you to beat the (expletive) out of them. They're there to give you (expletive) work, so that you can be in the best shape you can possibly be in, emulate the style of your opponent, and the list goes on and on.
"It just needs to be more like a boxing camp where it's really all about that guy. The difference in MMA is they will get together with five or six other guys that are training for fights and they're all going at it like they're the (expletive) guy. They're all going balls out, and that's not the way it's supposed to be in training. That's my humble opinion."
Despite the unparalleled string of injuries that has plagued the UFC in 2012, or the seemingly growing criticism by fans who feel let down when a major bout has to be scratched, White promises the UFC is only getting stronger and is on pace to turn the fight game on its head once again.
"Everything is awesome. Everything couldn't be going better," White said. "It seems like every day when you turn on the (expletive) computer, there's all this doom and gloom. The UFC is a fad, this, that, and everything else from all these dumb (expletives) who don't really know what's going on, what the plans are, what we got teed up.
"We're gonna shock the world again in the next two years."
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