Outspoken UFC president Dana White recently spoke with the Las Vegas Sun on a variety of topics including Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields, the absorption of the WEC’s lightweight class by the UFC, the addition of new weight classes to the WEC, and the difficulties of putting on a show for the troops in Afghanistan.
White has made a concerted effort to expose Mixed Martial Arts, the UFC in particular, to the very large market of Hispanic fight fans. By adding lower weight classes to the WEC, White thinks that he can not only draw out more Hispanic fight fans but also more Hispanic fighters.
“Building small weight divisions is going to take time,” White said. “One of the things I was talking about is getting into South America, places like Mexico and Puerto Rico. As the sport starts to grow down there you’re going to see a lot of Hispanic guys start dominating those lighter weight divisions.”
Having taken over promotional duties for the WEC’s inaugural pay-per-view show this weekend, White has many people wondering how involved the UFC will become with the WEC and whther or not this increased involvement could mean a total absorption of the WEC by the UFC. White will not go so far as to reveal specifics but he insists that he knows what he is doing.
“The hardest part of all this is just figuring it out and believe it or not, I have a plan for this whole thing,” said White. “What I’m doing today is based on my idea that all television is going Internet. That’s what I believe and I’ve believed it for a long time.
“One thing I can say is, whether you agree or disagree with the decisions I’ve made, every year we’ve taken this thing to another level,” he went on. “What we’re going to do over the next three years is pretty (expletive) cool.”
White has publicly stated that the UFC will acquire Strikeforce middleweight champion and now free agent, Jake Shields, to their roster. In the interview with the Sun, White gives his thoughts on the post-fight brawl that Shields was involved in and puts the blame on Strikeforce, not the fighters.
“He pulls off this fight after they treated him like (expetive),” said White. “He’s the champion and he’s not even on the commercials. He gets his moment after pulling off this upset and you get goofball (Miller) running in there. What do you think is going to happen? And then they say the UFC does the same thing. No, we don’t. We are very controlled over who goes in that Octagon after a fight.”
White does not think that the post-fight scuffle will spell the end for MMA in the mainstream but he certainly does not think that it lends the sport a clean image.
“When stuff like that happens, the next day the media was reporting it was the UFC,” White said. “These guys try to look like the UFC. So if you’re just flipping through channels you say, ‘Hey, the UFC is on.’ And we’re working hard to get sanctioned in New York and that’s just one thing they can pull up and say, ‘Look at this.’ You think CBS or Strikeforce give a (expletive)? They haven’t done anything. They don’t care about building the sport. Get out of the way and let us do what we’re doing.”
Around the time that White took the UFC to Abu Dhabi, he revealed plans to return to the Middle East to put on a show for the troops in Afghanistan. White discusses those plans and the apprehension felt by some of his staff.
“We’re working on it right now,” White said. “It’s so crazy that they can’t tell us exactly where or when it would happen. The military is going to let us know when we can do it. We’re going to chopper in at night. There are a lot of people who are scared. (Announcer Joe Rogan) said, ‘Oh (expletive), we’re going to do what?’ We’re going to fly in, set this thing up as fast as we can and get the (expletive) out of there.”
Say what you will about the straightforward UFC frontman but he has done quite a bit to advance the sport of MMA and has opened up exciting new doors for the sport, fighters, and fans alike. He seems to have no intention of slowing down anytime soon and hopefully the UFC’s plans will lead to exciting new possibilities for and the continued growth of Mixed Martial Arts.