There continues to be worldwide debate and there probably always will be between boxing and MMA. However, with the emergence of the UFC it really is no contest at this point. Boxing is still popular and of course some of the top pound-for-pound fighters make big money with pay-per-views and big time fights. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon and there’s a lot of money to go around, but MMA is just better right now in so many ways. UFC president Dana White gets it. He gives the fans what they want to see, he is not afraid to put two of his best fighters in a cage against each other, and he markets the sports incredibly well. The sport’s popularity has continued to grow and White is the biggest reason for it. So while Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao continue to haggle over ridiculous contract demands, Dana White is putting on great fights cards repeatedly with some of his biggest stars.
Dana White joined WFAN in New York with Boomer and Carton to talk about why they can’t get MMA to New York, who the biggest star is in his sport right now, how he approaches some of his pay-per-view events, why Kimbo Slice didn’t last in the UFC, and what he thinks about Manny Pacquiao’s chances in MMA.
Why they can’t get Mixed Martial Arts in New York:
“It has nothing to do with Mixed Martial Arts. Of all things it’s the Culinary Union that’s keep us out of New York. (Host: What’s going on with the food union?) They’re very powerful. They’re powerful guys here. We just put on an event and when we talk about coming to New York the economic impact we have on a city is huge. We’re not just talking about coming to Madison Square Garden. We’re talking about going up into Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and these cities that are hurting right now and could really use a big event like this. We just did a fight in Toronto, not too far from Buffalo and 55,000 people. We did almost a 13 million dollar gate and we paid 1.5 million dollars in union fees up in Toronto to union workers that we’re working up there and we paid over a million dollars just in ticket tax up there.”
On his biggest stars in the UFC:
“There’s a lot. Brock Lesnar is still a big star for us. We’ve got Anderson Silva, who is the best fighter in the world. Rampage Jackson is a big star for us. (Host: Wasn’t the Silva kick the Macchio crane kick?) It looked like it. It actually had never been done, never been pulled off in a fight before.”
How he approaches some of his pay-per-views:
“What we do is we stack the card full of great fights. Boxing matches people show up 10 minutes before the main event. The place is 65 percent full for our first fight of the night.”
Why he thinks Kimbo Slice didn’t work in the UFC:
“I knew that and I said that a million times. I was basically smashing the guy all the time and that’s how we ended up getting him in the UFC. I said this guy couldn’t win the Ultimate Fighter. I hate talking bad about Kimbo because I actually really like the guy. He’s a good guy. (Host: He was an internet sensation.) He was. The season that we had him on the Ultimate Fighter, every time he fought we pulled seven million viewers. (Host: Why would you think that was a bad thing?) It’s about the integrity of the night. Kimbo is always going to be the toughest guy at the barbecue but not in the UFC.”
Whether or not he has just a few stars or premiere fighters in every class:
“We have premier fighters in every weight class. We have been very lucky because we have so many stars. When he asked me a couple of minutes ago who’s your biggest star? If I had to pick one biggest start I’d say Georges St. Pierre is our biggest star.”
Whether or not he thinks Manny Pacquiao would have success in the octagon:
“He wouldn’t do well. I’m a huge, huge Manny Pacquiao fan. He is boxing right now. Floyd Mayweather, and Floyd and I go way back and I told Floyd to his face too, Floyd is one of the big problems with boxing. Holding out, not taking this fight with Manny Pacquiao, and doing what he’s doing. I think Manny Pacquiao is boxing. Everything about him is positive and I love the guy.”
On negotiations for a new TV deal:
“We did not. We’re in negotiations right now for a new TV deal and we’re talking to everybody. That was a very premature article by the Wall Street Journal.”