clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How to make Renan Barao a star? Dana White has some ideas

LAS VEGAS -- The topic of how to market Renan Barao -- the UFC bantamweight champion who has ridiculous skills, but doesn't speak English -- is a topic which reappears every time the Brazilian gets ready to fight.

UFC president Dana White has a few idea on how to push Barao, who is set to headline a major Vegas holiday weekend fight card for the first time on Saturday when he defends his title against T.J. Dillashaw in the main event of UFC 173.

But he's decided one thing for sure: He's not going to worry about the casual fans who talk down the lower weight classes.

"If you tell me, I don't like watching 145 pounders, I'm not into it, you're not a fight fan," White told reporters on Thursday at the MGM Grand.

He went on to compare casual fans to his own level of interest in NASCAR.

"I'll give you an example, NASCAR," White said. I'm not an avid NASCAR fan. I'll stumble on it, I'll watch it for a little while, I'm not what you'd call a hardcore. But if there was something big going on, I might go in and watch a NASCAR event. Those are the people say they don't want to see a 135 pounder fight, or 145 pounder, or Mighty Mouse who is one of the best in the world too. You're never going to win that argument with a person who isn't really a hardcore fight fan."

So if White isn't going to win over the fans who don't like watching smaller guys fight, how does he turn Barao into a star? White reminded people that Anderson Silva, who is now regarded by many as the greatest MMA fighter of all-time, wasn't exactly a smash PPV success right away, either.

"We forget, nobody was talking about Anderson Silva when Anderson Silva wasn't being called all the great things he's being called today," White said. "It took a long time. It took a long time for Chuck Liddell. These things don't happen over night. There's some guys who burst onto the scene overnight like Conor McGregor, but other guys take longer. When you look at the numbers and you look at Renan Barao's fights, he's all there. He's the kind of guy that I like to watch. He's a killer, he comes in and he tries to finish you."

White mocked the notion that Barao's lack of English-speaking skills is hurting him as a draw.

"I've heard every stupid thing you can possibly hear," White said. "I hear he's not handsome enough, I hear he doesn't speak English. Listen, if you're showing up to see handsome guys speak on Saturday you're coming to the wrong f------- show, okay?"

In the end, White believes the action in the Octagon will speak for itself. Barao brings a 32-fight win streak into the Dillashaw fight and has finishes in each of his three title defenses (both regular and interim titles).

Again, White used Silva as his example.

"Anderson Silva got more fans when he kicked Vitor [Belfort] in the face," White said. "He didn't speak English. From that day to today, how much English has Anderson Silva really learned?‘"

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting