Dana White was filled with excitement after the UFC-FOX television deal was finalized.
But, just like White has shown after every big event, there is no time to relax and enjoy the glory, as UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami takes place this Saturday night from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on pay-per-view.
White sat down for brief lunch and discussed the upcoming PPV, the debut of UFC On Fox on November 12 and the stress caused by working out a television deal.
From making $115,000 at their first live UFC card in 2001 after taking control, White and Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta now have a deal with FOX for $100 million per year over seven years.
But White doesn’t feel like the UFC is all the way there yet.
“We’re not mainstream yet,” White told his staff. “Now’s the time to dig in and work. If we pull this thing off, we will be mainstream.”
UFC 134 will feature a middleweight title contest between Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami. Okami was the last fighter to defeat Silva, earning a disqualification victory in Hawaii in 2006. The UFC sold out the 14,000-seat HSBC Arena in no time.
Along with Silva-Okami, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will meet Forrest Griffin in a rematch of a fight won by Griffin in the Honda Center, which will host UFC On FOX.
As for that card, White wants to get through the fights this weekend before putting the final touches on that one.
“I’m not saying that,” White said, when asked if that meant Silva could be part of the event. “Let me get through these fights.”
White said he negotiated with CBS, Comcast and Spike TV for a major TV deal before signing with FOX.
“I was so stressed out,” White said. “If this didn’t take years off my life, nothing did. It was all about, ‘This thing is about to be great,’ while knowing, ‘If we blow this thing, nothing could be worse.'”
The UFC knows it needs to help educate fans, and has plans of doing that with pre- and post-fight shows before all events on FOX.
“We live in a bubble in our (UFC Las Vegas) offices and take it for granted people know what armbars, guillotines and triangle chokes are – nobody knows what this (stuff) means,” White said. “We have to view (FOX programming) as if nobody knows anything about this sport, that people die in this cage.
“We’re going to educate the masses, treat it like nobody knows who we are. I think our (hardcore) audience understand that’s necessary.”