Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Dana White joked that Nick Diaz is doing such a great job of building up UFC 158, and even though that's the job of a main eventer, he thinks Diaz deep down probably doesn't like that it's working.
"You realize he hates that about it," said White in a Google+ Hangout with Sportsnet.ca on Friday afternoon in Montreal. "That pisses him off, as weird as that sounds, and that was the whole wolf tickets (the idea of selling tickets based on fake hype for a match) comments. It's like he's the anti-star, but by being this huge anti-star, it's created a star out of him. It's what people keep asking me, if I'm pissed off. When Georges St-Pierre came to us and said, 'I want to fight Nick Diaz,' do you think I didn't know what I was getting into? But I think he's been pretty damn good for Nick Diaz."
The whole fight is novel because Diaz, saying he wants to keep things real, is as far opposite as they come from Chael Sonnen, the UFC's master puppeteer when it comes to the creation of fake hype to garner interest in a fight. Yet, in his own way, Diaz may be Sonnen's No. 1 rival in that department, as the last few days have shown.
But White maintained, despite Diaz saying the hype, at least the stuff said by people other than himself, was contrived, that the grudge match aspect of the fight is real. He insists Diaz has gotten to St-Pierre in a way no other fighter has during his career.
"He's been telling me he wants to make Diaz retire in this fight," said White. "He hates this guy. You talk about all the guys who have talked s*** about Georges in his career. This guy is really bothering him."
White categorized it as one of the biggest grudge matches in company history.
"The reason I'd call this such a big grudge match is because I've never seen Georges St-Pierre so pissed off," White said. "I've never seen anyone get into his head like this. Even (Josh) Koscheck, all the things Koscheck did, it didn't make him as angry as this. The big thing was in the hotel, chasing him around the hotel, and then whe he said all that stuff at the press conference (all during the weekend of UFC 137, on Oct. 29, 2011, in Las Vegas). It stuck with him. And then he ends up fighting Carlos Condit, and he said he wants to fight Nick Diaz."
While White said he's expected what he got with Diaz, he claimed he hadn't heard some of the comments Diaz made on Thursday, when Diaz went on a Toronto talk show and accused St-Pierre of using steroids, and that UFC was aware of it, and didn't care.
"I haven't heard that," he said. "I've heard a lot of crazy s***, but I haven't heard that, yet."
"As champion, the championship fights are always tested, and so not only has Georges St-Pierre never tested positive for steroids, he's never come close to testing positive for anything negative."
White also said he was aggravated on Thursday during a media scrum, when reporters, most notably Ariel Helwani of MMAfighting.com and Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, questioned why the company doesn't do more extensive out of competition drug testing, particularly when White talked about frequently testing all fighters that are have asked for testosterone use exemptions from athletic commissions.
"I was getting pissed off because every time we're at one of these media scrums, people are going drug testing, drug testing, drug testing. How many times do I have to say we're regulated by the government, and the government comes in and testes these guys? We keep getting better, like this situation with TRT. We're already regulated more than most sports are, and now we're doing extra stuff, too. I'm sick of it. And it's not like a couple of questions, they keep coming."
But there's an obvious issue when it comes to the drug testing subject. Whether White likes it or not, within the fight game, PED usage is a serious subject. While penalties are significant for being caught, it is far too easy to use and not get caught than it should be.
Fighters who try to compete clean complain about it. Fighters who don't compete clean have their justification for use, believing that the lack of unannounced testing means, whether true or not, that UFC, is giving a wink toward the subject. Nobody believes that the company doesn't care when people testing positive or things ruin planned fights, but the lack of year-around unannounced testing it taken to mean, 'Don't be stupid, and don't get caught.'
It's a frustrating subject for everyone, because the richest athletes have the ability to usually beat even the most extensive testing. But for a UFC fighter, unless they are main eventers in a state that tests out of competition, like Nevada, it is far too easy to plan cycles where you test clean on fight day, and still have the benefits of building muscle and recovering faster while in training.
White also noted that he's behind the movement to get wrestling back into the Olympics, and is meeting with U.S. wrestling officials on April 2, saying he would help them out any way he can, although he said he's not sure what he can do.
"Everything I hear is positive, sounding like it (wrestling getting back in the Olympics) might happen.
"Wrestling is a huge base of MMA," he said. "Let's say Olympic wrestling goes away, what does that do for high school and college wrestling? Will there be wrestling coaches in 25 years. It's important. It's a big deal."
But White also believes amateur MMA is viable as an Olympic sport.
"When you say watered down, you have to have a lower version for it to be amateur anyway," he said, since in the Olympics it would have to be tournament format with quick turnaround, meaning multiple matches over a few days period so a lot more precautions would have to be taken to avoid injuries and deep cuts.
"I'm telling you, everything in this poor economic situation that the world is in right now, people have to make money," he said. "It's all about making money. Even the Olympic committee, they try to act like they're above making money. It's all about making money. You have to have something that is entertaining. Wrestling isn't that entertaining. People aren't going too say, 'Let's watch this wrestling match.' The average person doesn't even know who is winning and who is losing because they don't know enough about the sport. But it's a martial arts form that I'd hate to see go away."
White also said something regarding match making, which he's said many times before but seems forgotten whenever marketable main event matches, like St-Pierre vs. Diaz, which feature champions against challengers who are not the legitimate top contender are made.
"I feel my job is to bring you guys the fights you want to see," he said. "In reality, I work for you. That's the way I look at it. If you ever read my twitter feeds, you're not going to hurt my feelings. We back and forth and I feel I have a great rapport with the fans and the media. Me and the media have our moments. There's times when these guys get a little weird and cross the line and get me aggravated, but we're all cool as long as you don't do anything dirty.
"There are media people who have done dirty stuff and aren't good people,and I won't deal with those people and I don't care who they work for, I'll never deal with them no matter who they work for."
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