By Zach Arnold | August 28, 2011
ARIEL HELWANI: “I’ve had the privilege of covering this sport around four years. You’ve been around it a lot longer than I have. Have you ever seen a crowd like this in MMA?”
DANA WHITE: “Never. There were some impressive crowds and I’ve been to some pretty amazing events. This one topped it all. I’ve never seen it anything like this (until) tonight.”
ARIEL HELWANI: “What were you thinking when they’re singing, dancing, they’re doing the wave, is this sort of how you envisioned MMA or where the UFC would be one day?”
DANA WHITE: “No, it was insane, you know. What was… all that was incredible plus the first fight of the night sounded like it was the Anderson Silva fight, I mean this place was rocking from the first fight of the night, this place was packed. It was an incredible night.”
ARIEL HELWANI: “Is it safe to say from the tickets selling out in 74 minutes to the media workouts, the press conference, to tonight that Rio exceeded your expectations?”
DANA WHITE: “It did, I mean, Rio exceeded our expectations before we even got to the show. It went to a whole another level because of the fighters here tonight and they put on an incredible performance. From, you know, the first fight of the night right up until the main event.”
ARIEL HELWANI: “Let’s talk the main event. Anderson Silva looked impressive. It was Roy Jones Jr.-esque or maybe Anderson Silva-esque with his hands down, the jab knocks Okami down. In my opinion, one of his best performances ever, the way he just almost toyed with Okami in the second round. Would you agree?”
DANA WHITE: “I agree 100%. I think everybody who knows anything about Mixed Martial Arts knew what the game plan was for Okami and he went for it. Get up against that fence, get in the clinch, and try to work from there and rough him up and try to get him to the ground. He got him in the clinch and started get caught to the body with those big knees, didn’t like it, didn’t like being here, I guarantee you but I don’t know but after the first round his corner was saying, he got hit with that big head kick, his corner was saying do not stand out in the middle with him, get him against the cage, try to take him down but he absolutely could not impose his will tonight, he couldn’t implement his game plan… and, you know, I’ll say it again, like I’ve said a million times, this guy is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world and, in my opinion, the best fighter ever.”
- Wade Keller (MMA Torch): Is Anderson Silva the greatest professional athlete in any sport on the planet right now?
- Jonathan Snowden: Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter in the history of MMA
- Dave Meltzer: Anderson Silva — greatest fighter in the sport’s modern history
ARIEL HELWANI: “In the past, Anderson has sort of played around with his opponents but in the second round it seems as though he almost wanted to prove a point, he was almost upset and wanted to put on a show for the crowd. That has to make you happy seeing his mindset change a lot since, say, Abu Dhabi.”
DANA WHITE: “Well, the thing is, you know, I don’t ever want a guy to fight a certain way or have a certain game plan but when you know how talented Anderson Silva is, when people tune in and, you know, I’m an Anderson Silva fan. When you watch the fight, you expect him to showcase that talent and, you know, Abu Dhabi’s always going to be the big sore thumb, you know, that sticks outs in his career. But, you know, I think he has definitely made up for Abu Dhabi.”
Not transcribed from that interview is Dana White explaining why Forrest Griffin mentally was a no-show at UFC 134 in Rio for his fight against Mauricio Shogun. Ben Fowlkes elaborates on the matter.