As the UFC is preparing to bring UFC 102 to Portland this weekend, it’s first event in the Pacific Northwest, UFC president Dana White provided some insight into several of the topics that have been on the minds of UFC fans in an interview with Sean McGrath of the Oregonian. White discussed bringing live UFC events into new markets, a potential network deal, the possibility of adding weight classes and which fighters are on White’s radar to join the UFC roster.
The UFC has spent considerable time and energy focusing on having the sport of mixed martial arts sanctioned in states in the Northeast. White stated, “We got Massachusetts done. We’re gonna do an event in Boston. And then obviously the big one is going to be New York, which we’re very confident is gonna be done in the beginning of next year. And then we’ll do Madison Square Garden.” White went on to say that the UFC has plans to do a show in Hawaii, a state with strong fan support, and plans to put on a show at Aloha stadium. When asked if there were any other states the UFC was still trying to get sanctioned White indicated, “there’s one or two more.”
White went on to discuss the UFC’s interest in a network television deal. “It’s really not that big of a goal for me. I’ve said all the time, I could’ve had a network deal. I could’ve been on HBO. I could’ve been on CBS. I could’ve been on a lot of networks. The deal has to be right.” While a network television deal is viewed by many as a gateway towards moving the sport to a more mainstream audience, White intimated that he is satisfied with the Spike TV and pay-per-view model for the US market until the “right deal” comes along.
While the conversation about the UFC adding weight classes is a popular one with fans, White indicated that he is content with the current five weight classes in his organization (lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight). White commented, “I hated that about boxing.” Although there had been some discussions about adding a weight class between middleweight and light heavyweight. White continued, “We’ve talked about that but who knows. I don’t like changing the weight classes.”
With the UFC’s recent acquisition of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (the brother of UFC 102 headliner Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira), many have wondered which other fighters currently outside of the UFC is the organization hoping to add to their roster. When quizzed by McGrath, White expressed that signing Gegard Mousasi is something the UFC is very interested in. Mousasi submitted Renato “Babalu” Sobral earlier this month in a Strikeforce event and is riding an impressive 13 fight win streak. White seemed less interested in some other highly ranked fighters such as Shinya Aoki and Eddie Alvarez.