UFC president Dana White's experiences have led him to believe two things about the upcoming UFC Fight Night at Boston's TD Garden: 1. The cable company carriage issues the new FOX Sports 1 network is experiencing will work out in the end and 2. Massachusetts is a difficult place to do business.
As the days head toward Saturday's card, FOX has not yet reached deals with several major providers to carry the new all-sports network, most notably DirecTV. But content providers and cable/digital companies often play high-stakes games of chicken which go down to the wire, so White isn't going to sweat something he can't control.
"This is what these guys do, this is what FOX does," White said on a Monday media teleconference. "They negotiate with these networks and these different systems. A lot of times, these things go right down to the wire. Am I worried about it? Not one bit. I'm not worried about it. I'm not thinking about it, it's not my concern. I have no control over it. I'm not concerned about it."
White has a more direct role, of course, in his company's business, and he's found one obstacle after another thrown at him on a bureaucratic level in putting together the show. From issues regarding foreign fighters' social security numbers to a Culinary Union scheme to hold up headliner Chael Sonnen's license for his fight with Mauricio Rua, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is living up to its well-earned reputation as a miserable place to try to get business done.
"It's a great place to go hang out with my friends and eat," White said of Boston. "But it's not a great place to put on fights."
White rested much of the blame for the Sonnen licensure issue at the feet of Las Vegas Culinary Union 226, which was involved in filing a complaint against Sonnen to the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.
"What these guys are doing, the simple fact that they're spending their union members' dues to try to hurt the UFC, which has nothing to do with the union members or whatever it might be, its' so transparent and so ridiculous," White said. "These guys are, for instance, they use different organizations on various issues, whether it's women or gay rights, whatever it may be, they use these different organizations to try to get what they want. What they want is Station Casinos. If they get Station Casinos, it's another 10M a year to the union. So they'll use any dirty tactic and do whatever it takes to try to get Station Casinos."
Sonnen, for his part, says he wasn't aware of last week's commission hearing on the matter until the last minute.
"It confused me more than it upset me," Sonnen said. "I didn't know much about it. I got a text message the day of a hearing that was scheduled by the commission. I didn't know about it, I called in, I wasn't asked any questions, I was on the phone for less than a minute. I was very happy the commission saw it that way."