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Dana White Delivers for NYC Fans, Talks 'TUF' Superfight and Respecting Kimbo

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Late Monday night, Dana White tweeted that he would be handing out free tickets to UFC 104 at a Pinkberry in midtown Manhattan. Several minutes before his expected arrival, I decided to check out the scene, fully expecting there to be 10 to 15 people hanging outside. Not so.

When I arrived there were at least 50 people anxiously waiting for White, and when he showed up 30 minutes later, there were at least 100 people outside, along with two police officers. Without hesitation, White promised every single person there a free ticket to UFC 104 in Los Angeles. FanHouse then briefly spoke to White while he was enjoying his frozen yogurt about Wednesday's much-anticipated edition of The Ultimate Fighter featuring Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson. The interview is below.

Ariel Helwani: So, all those people are getting free tickets to UFC 104?
Dana White: Yup.

That's it, huh?
That's it (laughs). That's how it works, yeah. I did it in Dallas -- I think Dallas was the first time I did it, and it was crazy. Thousands of people showed up in Dallas. But for a Monday night at 11 o'clock in midtown Manhattan ... there's a lot of things going on in New York, so to get a couple of hundred people to show up is pretty big.

Are you humbled by this turnout?
I am. And we were joking on the way here, thinking there would be three people out front. We were surprised when we pulled up at how many people were here. The guys here at Pinkberry said we made their day; it was a slow, crappy day and we made it for them.

The video below does contain some explicit language and is NSFW.

FanHouse @ Dana White ticket giveaway in NYC from Ariel Helwani on Vimeo.

One of the reasons why you are in town is to promote Wednesday's TUF fight between Kimbo Slice and Roy Nelson. Are you surprised by how much buzz this fight -- as well as the whole season -- has generated thus far?

We knew it was going to be big, we just didn't know how big it was going to be. We did 5.1 million viewers the first week, 4.1 last week, and this Wednesday we think that we're going to do more than both of those.

I heard you predicted 7 million viewers for this Wednesday's show.
No, I'm predicting 6 million.

So, 7 million might be a little aggressive?
Dude, if we do 7 million ... I'm not going to say anything. I already put my foot in my mouth at UFC 100.

Are you still planning on base jumping off the Mandalay Bay because UFC 100 generated over 1.5 million buys?
I am.

You know, there is a famous boxing promoter who doesn't think UFC 100 generated anywhere near 1.5 million buys.
Guess what, jackass? I wouldn't be base jumping off Mandalay Bay. One thing about me is I keep my word. I said I would do it, and there is another reporter out there who has been busting my balls to make sure that I'm going to do it, and I'm going to do it. I'm not crazy about it, but I'm going to do it. I don't want to stand up on that railing over there; that's how much I like heights.

Back to TUF, I remember seeing you on SportsCenter the day after Kimbo beat James Thompson on CBS, and you were talking about how this was a bad moment for the sport. Does it feel weird for you to now be promoting a Kimbo Slice fight?
No. Let me tell you what: when I woke up one Saturday morning and was watching ESPN, and they were comparing this guy to Muhammad Ali, that was what was killing me. People would ask me if he was going to get into the UFC, and I said the only way this guy will get in the UFC is if he went on The Ultimate Fighter and won it. I respect him very much that he took the challenge and is going to do it.

When I first heard that Kimbo was going to be on TUF, I thought we would never see him fight before the sixth or seventh week. Was a part of you upset that he was picked to fight so early so that you couldn't build it up a little more?
One of the things that has made The Ultimate Fighter so successful is that it's real. You know, I don't get involved, tell them what to do, who to pick, or all this other stuff. The show isn't manipulated in any way to keep Kimbo on until episode 8 to pull higher ratings. It's a real show with real fighters and whatever happens, happens. The most staged thing on that entire show is when I come out and say, 'Welcome to the UFC training center,' and I give them the rules and how it's all going to work. After that happens, whatever happens, happens. You never know what is going to happen, and I truly believe that's what's made it so successful.

Have you been impressed by Kimbo Slice?
He is not who I expected him to be. When I first met him, I was thinking thug, and he's anything but. Yeah, I like him very much.

There seems to be a war of words developing between Kimbo and Seth Petruzelli. Would you be interested in ever putting that fight together?
I don't think so. Obviously, at the time that it happened it was great for me. But anyone who has ever watched The Ultimate Fighter sees that when they come off the show, they're completely different fighters. If Kimbo comes off, I would like to see him fight some stiffer competition.

Will that be in the UFC?
You'll have to watch and see.

OK, before I let you finish your Pinkberry, I just have three simple yes or no questions. Will we see Rampage Jackson fight again in the UFC?

Dan Henderson?

Will Vitor Belfort fight Anderson Silva on Jan. 2?
Maybe (laughs).

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