Dana White. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
While it’s pretty easy to assume that the current relationship between UFC President Dana White and his reigning heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, might be a little rocky considering White’s company filed a defamation suit against Couture earlier this year, things might be starting to get a little better between the two.
White was a guest this morning on CBS and XM Satellite Radio’s “Opie and Anthony Show” (audio here) where he talked about a variety of topics, including his current situation with Couture. As he’s done all throughout the past eight months since Couture formally resigned from the promotion, White had nothing but good things to say about the UFC Hall-of-Famer.
“I have nothing but respect for Randy Couture,” White said on the program. “This guy is a real fighter and he’s always fought the best fighters in the world. So whatever his reasoning his for wanting to sit out for the remainder of this thing, I want Randy Couture back in the UFC. I want him to be a part of this thing for the rest of his life and I’m trying to work that out with Randy right now so we’ll see what happens.”
Whether or not White and Couture are really trying to work something out remains to be seen, but this is the first time in quite a while that White has even mentioned anything related to an attempt to patch things up with Couture.
White also discussed his attempts to sign former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, widely considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. While one of Couture’s main reasons for leaving the UFC was White’s inability to sign Emelianenko, he noted that his attempts were not made in vain.
“I was dealing with Fedor’s managers and the problem is that when you talk to his managers, it’s all about what we can do for the managers and not what we can do for Fedor,” White said. “They were tricky negotiators and here’s the thing, and the buck always stops here with me, the whole “Dana couldn’t do this” thing, I was dealing with some crazy fuckers.”
“I’m dealing with this crazy dude from Russia who is asking me to build a stadium in Russia and he’ll be my partner and stuff and all I want to do is sign Fedor to fight,” White continued. “So it’s always easy to look at me and say “Aw, Dana couldn’t get that done” but it all comes down to the personalities that I deal with. I have over 100 employees and 250 fighters under contract. I’m never going to be the guy that keeps everybody happy.”
Additional quotes from the interview are below:
White on Tito Ortiz: “Tito is an idiot. Tito is one of these guys that only cares about himself. You know, Tito is one of these guys that wants to walk around and cry about everything. When he refused to fight Chuck Liddell a few years ago. He refused to fight him. He had the belt and refused to fight him even though he was the number one contender so he ended up sitting out about a year and a half. Then he was crying that he drove his car into a tree and that his life was in the hole so I brought Tito back into the UFC and that year he made something like $6.3 million bucks. Tito is an idiot. When he was good I had to put up with his shit and now that he sucks, I don’t have to anymore.
The problem with Tito is that he was the guy that I put out in front when we first bought this company and there were a lot of smoke and mirrors built around him. He never really truly wanted to be a fighter and I think he wanted to use fighting as a vehicle to become famous and then do movies and things like that. His heart has never been in fighting. Randy Couture is a whole different ballgame.
It’s human nature. It’s always going to be an issue. No matter what the guys make… you want to make more money, he wants to make more money, and your producer wants to make more money. I’m in the contract business. Anytime a guy has a six or eight fight deal and his contract is up, we’re back talking money again. So my big thing is that money is one of those things that should be handled behind the scenes. I take a lot of heat because I don’t talk about the money and I don’t talk about what they make but at the end of the day, I think that’s one of the biggest problems in sports today. You have these people that make $25,000-$30,000 a year buying tickets to go to events and you have these athletes fucking crying about money. Crying saying “Oh I only made $25 million this past year” and then you have Tito Ortiz, fucking flat broke and he made $6.3 million bucks in 2006. Yeah, I fucking feel sorry for Tito, right…”
White on being forced to leave Boston because of demands from infamous Irish gangster “Whitey” Bulger: “I’ve been in the boxing business since I was a kid. I was an amateur boxer and I ran some gyms, a non-profit gym in Boston and then basically I came out to Las Vegas and ran into some partners and was going to start a boxing promotion. At the time I was managing Tito and Chuck Liddell and during negotiations with the owner of the UFC I came to find out that they were in trouble and trying to sell the company and a month later we owned it.
Me and my business partner back then were running a non-profit gym. But in order to make money we used to bring in business guys to train and learn how to box and they would pay us like we were personal trainers. One day I was teaching at one of the health clubs down there and one of Whitey’s guys showed up and asked if I knew who he was. I told him that I didn’t and he basically said that they wanted money from me. I didn’t understand and he said “If you’re going to do business in our town, you’re going to have to give us money.” So I basically ignored it like the conversation never happened and I got a phone call at my house one day. They said basically, “You owe us this amount of money and we need it by Sunday” and I said “Alright, Delta Airlines please?” They asked me for $3,500 bucks which at the time to me was like $35,000.”
White on a third fight between Chuck Liddell and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: “I think people want to see it. Chuck has a fight in September and if he wins that fight then yeah, we could definitely see a rematch. I know that Chuck wants that fight bad.”
White on Shogun-Griffin and Jackson-Griffin: “The crazy things about these fights… We brought over “Shogun” Rua from Japan and everybody thought that he was the best 205 lb. fighter in the world. He destroyed “Rampage” Jackson in their fight. So he came over here and we set him up in a fight against Forrest Griffin and people were like “That’s mean man, Forrest is gonna get killed” but Forrest beat the shit out of Shogun and ended up choking him out in the third round. So this fight between Jackson and Griffin is a very interesting fight.”
White on the new MMA promotions popping up: “I’m flattered that we made it look that easy. That you can throw three letters together, buy a cage, and get into the fight business. This is what we do 24/7 is mixed martial arts. This is how stupid this is. Let’s say we’re sitting at my house on a Saturday afternoon, we’re flipping around and we land on NASCAR. We’re like “Whoa, look at all the people at that race and they have a deal with Fox? You know what we should do? We should start a race league.” That’s how fucking stupid it is. It’s not that easy to get into this business.”
White on the UFC’s business model compared to WWE: “I think our business model is a lot like Vince McMahon’s in that we have a brand and we have a lot of stars inside of that brand. But other than that, I’m in the real fight business, Vince McMahon is in show business. The guys that he has are actors, and acrobats, and shit like that. The guys that we have are real fighters and at the end of the day, you have a personality like a fucking rock, but if you go out there and knock people out, you’re fine because that’s what people want to see. I love the fight business. I’ve loved it my whole life and it’s what I’ve always been into. I think I’m good at putting together the right fights and selling them.”
White on Boxing’s downfall and MMA’s rise: “Boxing was my whole life and then so many people… you know that one of the things that you guys have to understand, that I’m going to take a lot of heat for we’ve done, which is literally change the fight business. We took the industry, shook it up, and changed the way that things are done. If you knew anything about the fight business and look at how it was and how it is now, you’ll see that we’ve completely changed everything. There are a lot of people having a hard time with that and they’re all like “Oh, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be”. Fuck how it’s supposed to be because obviously that didn’t work, look at where boxing is now. You’ve seen the UFC and if you go see it in person, I guarantee it’ll be the single greatest sporting event you’ve ever seen live.”
White on Kimbo Slice: “Here’s my beef with Kimbo Slice. I’ll give it to him that he’s training and that he’s taking it serious. But this dude was fighting in backyards a few months ago. If I put him on the “Ultimate Fighter” reality show, he wouldn’t win it. Kimbo Slice sucks. Who he fought on EliteXC’s last show was one step away from being a fucking corpse and Kimbo barely got out of there against him. The fact that CBS is headlining their events with Kimbo Slice… it’s crazy. Anybody who knows the story about this business and where we were, even when we were $44 million dollars in the whole, we never went with the freak show angle. Kimbo Slice is that freak show.
They’re putting this crazy looking dude from YouTube on TV. We would never do it. Back when we were losing money, you’re talking ten years ago, we would have easily said let’s bring Mike Tyson or somebody of that nature, but we never went the freak show angle. We’ve stayed true to the sport and have promoted real fighters who are the best in the world. That’s what we’ve focused on. Kimbo Slice sucks. I’m telling you right now, I have a 145 lb fighter, his name is Urijah Faber and he fights in the WEC. He weighs 145 lbs and he would kick the shit out of Kimbo Slice.”
White on Brock Lesnar: “The thing about Brock Lesnar is… Bringing in a guy from the WWE, the difference is that this guy had a real wrestling background. He was a collegiate wrestler, NCAA credentials, etc, etc, and when we brought him into the UFC, we didn’t throw a corpse at him, we threw him former heavyweight champion Frank Mir. When I was going to bring Brock in I told him “I’m only going to have you fight the best” and he told me that’s exactly what he wanted. He’s really into this thing. He wants to be credible and good or else he doesn’t want to be in it at all. He got a lot of respect after his fight with Frank Mir and a lot of people think that he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for the next couple of years.”
White on the potential growth of MMA: “In the next eight years, this is going to be the biggest sport in the world - bigger than the NFL, bigger than soccer. We’re doing some crazy shit. Think about how big the NFL is. Even if you didn’t watch a single game all season long, everybody watches the Super Bowl. The NFL spent billions of dollars trying to get football over in Europe. Nobody gives a fuck about football over there. You know why? Because they didn’t grow up playing it and they don’t know anything about it. That’s like saying Cricket is going to be big over here some day. It’s not gonna fucking happen. I put two guys in an Octagon and they can use any kind of martial art they want. It transcends across all cultural barriers.
As human beings, we love fighting, it’s in our DNA. We love it. Tell me this has never happened to you - You’re flipping around on the television and you land on the Hispanic channel and two guys are beating the shit out of each other. You don’t understand what he’s saying but you don’t have to know what he’s saying. You get it. You can watch fighting because you understand it, you get it, and you like it. We’re on television in 170 different countries right now and most of the broadcasts are in English so people don’t even understand what the broadcasters are saying. Yet it remains one of the highest rated programs on television. Boxing is going down the tube but we’re the most exciting sport in the world and it transcends across all cultural and language barriers. We’re going to the biggest sport in the world.”
White on Joe Rogan: “When this thing was bleeding money and we were trying to get this thing off the ground, Joe Rogan commentated for us for free. This was when Fear Factor was huge. He was doing it for free. Let me tell ya, I told Joe when this thing catches on I’m gonna fucking take care of you. I couldn’t say enough good things about Joe Rogan. He’s gold man.”
Thanks to MMA on Tap reader “Franco” for the assist.
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