Dana White might be (mostly) done with the boxing business, but that doesn't mean he doesn't still love the sport. White treated the media on Wednesday to a screening of his new boxing reality show 'The Fighters', which will air on the Discovery Channel on January 23rd. After the screening, however, White took questions from the media and addressed an old incident with former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.
In 2007, Ortiz had included language in his contract that would allow him to fight White in a boxing bout. Ortiz wanted to act on the language and Spike TV elected to film the entire process. In the end, it became a disaster for all parties as the commission became involved and Ortiz didn't show for the weigh-ins. It's a process White says he openly regrets.
Yet, as he told on it Wednesday evening, he is adamant Ortiz no-showed because the MMA star knew he would've lost to his boss in front of millions of people.
"I still box every day. I boxed this morning. I box every day," White told the media.
"You know what pisses me off the most about that thing? I brought in real guys. I brought in heavyweight guys to spar with me for that thing and I got the living s--t punched out of me for four months getting ready for that fight. Real guys. One of the guys, the main guy I sparred with, is fighting this weekend and he's ranked heavyweight.
"How many of you guys ever saw that old movie for the '80s Twelve O'Clock High where he's going to get his ass kicked after school and he keeps looking at the clock trying to get out of this fight? I'm not sh-ting you. I'm 37 years old when this thing's going down. I'm sitting in my office every day going 'Oh my god. It's f--king two o'clock. This guy's going to be here in an hour.'"
"These guys are 22, 24 years old," White continued. "I'm 37 doing all the UFC s--t, then going down and sparring with these guys. My nose got busted up. I got the s--t kicked out of me getting ready for that thing."
In addition to the physical toll it took on him, White believes the commission getting involved, which happened as a consequence of them hearing about the event and asking White and Ortiz to answer questions, irreparably harmed his relationship with them.
"I had to go through all the stuff with the commission, which I still to this day believe, it created a lot of bad animosity between me and the commission trying to get licensed for that fight," White suggested. "But they did it. They licensed me. I went through all the medical testing, everything, and then Tito ends up bailing on that thing the day of the weigh-ins."
White notes he's an executive, not a fighter, but believes Ortiz's no-show was done specifically to avoid a beating he knew would've come his way.
"Believe me," White said, "I'm not trying to sound like a tough guy and I don't talk about the thing a lot, but I was ready, in great shape and Tito bailed on that thing because Tito knew he was going to get his ass whooped on national television."
It could all be for the better that it didn't happen. And if White had his way, none of it ever would. In the end, the UFC President isn't sure there's anything positive that ever came out of it.
"Yes!," White responded when asked if he regretted the experience. "If I could go back in time, I wouldn't do it. If I knew Tito was going to bail out of the thing, I would've never done it. I had to have nose surgery after all that stuff, getting ready for that fight. I was sparring with real guys. I brought in real pro heavyweights, young guys that were literally beating the s--t out of me every day. It was not fun.
"But I said I'd do it and I always keep my word. I showed up for the weigh-ins and I was ready to go."
White notes he was sure Ortiz was going to bail, but argues that's not the same as Ortiz pulling out of other fights due to injury. In fact, he partially defended the now-Bellator light heavyweight despite the criticism he received for pulling out of his scheduled bout with Quinton Jackson a week before it was set to air on pay-per-view.
"Tito really did get legitimately hurt before the fight with Rampage," White said. "The reality is with me is Tito knew. Tito knew. Tito had Jenna [Jameson] call negotiating like two weeks before the fight that he wanted to switch it to no head gear.
"Because this was supposed to be an amateur fight. So, he wanted to switch to no head gear. I said, 'Fine. We'll go no head gear.' They wanted to switch to 8 ounce gloves. I said, 'Ok, we can do 8 ounce gloves.'"
"The reality is I used to beat the living s--t out of Tito Ortiz back when we first bought this company and we used to box."
The UFC President is quick to note a caveat: this was intended to be a three-round boxing bout. This was not a MMA fight. If it were, White would never have accepted.
"Now, if Tito would've made this an MMA fight, I would've never said yes because Tito would murder me. He would double leg me, elbow my face off and rip my head right off my shoulders in an MMA fight.
"That's not what he asked for. He asked for a boxing match with me and I would've beat the living s--t out of Tito. And he knows it and that's why he didn't do it."