When it comes to mainstream media attention, something that seemingly every MMA fan and UFC fan in particular is craving for to help spread the word of the sport we all love, ESPN is probably the first media outlet that comes to mind. And while UFC 100 got a fair share of coverage by the “worldwide leader in sports” over the weekend, much of the coverage was done by ESPN 2’s morning show, First Take.
UFC President Dana White recently spoke to Dana Jacobsen of First Take, though not about the classy and unrivaled champion GSP who should be viewed as the face of the sport. Instead, the conversation was about WWE turned UFC star Brock Lesnar and his UFC 100 post-fight antics, of course. Here are some highlights of the interview.
“Obviously Brock Lesnar is a big star and people wanted to see if he could do it, become the undisputed champion,” White said of the main event fight itself. “He did it, but he’s not a big favorite amongst the UFC fans.”
Speaking of what was going through his mind as Lesnar was flipping off the crowd while saying he was going to drink Coors Light instead of UFC sponsor Bud Light, and detailing his plans for he and his wife’s “after-party,” White said, “I was horrified. I didn’t see it coming. I know Brock Lesnar before he ever gets in the octagon, before he steps in front of a microphone. I didn’t expect it. I wasn’t happy about it.
“After the fight backstage I asked him, why would you act like that, why would you say the things you did?” White added. “I understand that there’s a lot of bad blood between the two guys. But in our sport, normally the way guys conduct themselves is like what GSP and Alves did after their fight. They fought five hard rounds, and at the end, they congratulated each other, and shook each other’s hands. The fans aren’t used to hearing what Brock said.”
When asked how Lesnar reacted towards White’s reprimand, he noted, “Brock apologized to me, he said he was embarrassed. He was pumped up after the fight, and he really had no explanation. He apologized to me, than he apologized to the press and the fans afterward.”
Dana also didn’t let the First & 10 crew get away their UFC bashing. “The most insane thing I have ever heard in my life is the guy (speaking of everyone’s favorite ESPN talking head, Skip Bayless) who said the UFC is fake. I’ve heard a lot of things said about the UFC over the years, but that is by far the most insane thing I’ve ever heard.”
Jacobsen later asked White whether or not he is happy with the publicity the UFC is getting, negative or otherwise due to Lesnar’s outburst. “I’m not a big believer in any publicity is good publicity. And at the end of the day, I don’t think that’s who Brock Lesnar really is.”
Speaking on what’s next for the heavyweight champ, Dana stated that “Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez are set to fight in October, and the winner of that fight gets Lesnar.”
White was also asked if he thought that first-time viewers of the UFC would be turned off after watching UFC 100.
“It was a great night of fights,” he explained. “I don’t think anybody will be turned off enough by what one guy said to never watch MMA again.”
He also hinted at the number of pay-per-view buys the promotion is expecting UFC 100 garnered.
“We had a good feeling we were going to do a million. There wasn’t a lot going on in sports over the weekend, and now we’re confident we did well over a million.”