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Confident Dana White predicts Weidman vs. Silva 2 will be bigger than UFC 100

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

TORRANCE, Calif. -- UFC president Dana White was feeling pretty confident on Monday.

And why not? Here in the Los Angeles suburb where Rorion Gracie first conceptualized the company White now runs, an overflow crowd outside the UFC Gym was lined around the block for a fan question-and-answer session on the opening day of the week-long media tour promotion the Chris Weidman-Anderson Silva rematch.

The throng was cued up less than 48 hours after what might have been the greatest fight in UFC history, as Jon Jones edged Alexander Gustafsson to retain the UFC light heavyweight title in a 25-minute war in Toronto which few who witnessed will ever forget.

Riding the wave of momentum, White was in the mood to aim high. Asked in a one-on-one interview with just how big the Dec. 28 middleweight matchup in Las Vegas will be, White goes straight after the holy grail of UFC events: UFC 100 in July 2009, the most successful event in company history.

"I think it's going to be the biggest fight we've ever done," White said.

Bigger than UFC 100, he's asked?

White nods. "Bigger than UFC 100. On every level. Tickets, pay-per-views, everything. You're going to see a motivated Anderson, but what makes this so much fun is, what Anderson are you going to see? How is this thing going to go? That's such a big part of the fun."

Informed later of his boss's comments, Weidman displays the same unflappability that enabled him to pull off his historic UFC 162 knockout victory, the one which promises to make the rematch such a blockbuster.

"You know, as much distractions that are out there, my mindset is just to win this next fight, that's it," Weidman said. "My focus is there. Biggest fight ever? That's cool, yeah. But that doesn't change anything."

The Weidman-Silva media tour, which makes five stops on both coasts before heading down to Brazil for two days, also serves as the unofficial kickoff to what many consider the most stacked series of events in White's UFC tenure.

UFC 168 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which also features Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate for the women's bantamweight title, ends a run which includes the Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos trilogy fight at UFC 166 in Houston; Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks headlining the 20th anniversary card in Las Vegas for UFC 167; and UFC on FOX 9 on Dec. 14 in Sacramento, in which the lightweight title fight between Anthony Pettis and Josh Thomson tops a loaded bill.

Of course, we're just a year removed from the most volatile matchmaking period in UFC history. An epidemic of fight fallouts and injuries led many in this age of instant, knee-jerk analysis to wonder if the company had finally seen its luck run out.

"Listen, if there was ever a testament that the business is sustainable, last year was the test of all tests," White said. "And I was actually really glad that that happened, because I never would have believed in a million years that it could. I wouldn't think that really would be possible for that many injuries, main event, co-main event.

"And how about the one up in Calgary?" White asked, about the ill-fated UFC 149 in July 2012. "An entire card gets wiped out and half the card gets wiped out again after we make it over. I never would have thought it possible, but now that I know that it is possible, I know we'll get through if it ever happens."

After 13 years running the UFC, White fully understands the fight promotion business goes through ebbs and flows. Periods like the upcoming fight schedule counterbalance last year's nightmares.

"It just happens, man," White said. "Everything lined up perfectly. People stayed healthy, we had Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis, sick fight, followed that up with Jones-Gustafsson, unbelievable fight, now we're going into Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos and the list goes on and on. I'm excited, I love it and thank God everyone's staying healthy."

While White is looking to turn the page toward the blockbuster fall lineup, the buzz from UFC 165 continues. During the fan Q & A, White, Silva, and Weidman would get asked their opinions on the Jones-Gustafsson bout several times. But for his part, White was most enthused about a Sunday night phone conversation with his light heavyweight champ.

"I talked to Jon last night," White said. "Normally when you get into a war like that, the last thing you want to do is talk about it. He was so pumped up, he loved that fight, he thought that fight was awesome. I love where Jones is right now and the champion he's become."

At this point, we're running a few minutes past the appointed start time for the fan Q & A, and White's handlers are getting a bit antsy. Asked in closing to sum up what makes the Weidman-Silva fight special, the UFC boss seems to be mentally hyping himself to address the fired-up flock of fans just on the other side of the doorway.

"Just think about this," White said. "If you put it in your head, the f--- music goes off, the lights go down, the walk-in music starts, when they go down on Dec. 28, how f--- crazy is that going to be? How insane is that going to be when they start walking in?"

As he heads toward the door, White turns around and repeats himself for emphasis: "Think about it."

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