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Dana White on why UFC 134 Rio was one of the company’s all-time best showings

By Zach Arnold | August 28, 2011

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Click on my exhausted mug to find out why the boss thinks UFC 134 was one of the best shows ever in this interview with Ariel Helwani of

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.”

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.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira claims that UFC will have a show in Japan in February.

Topics: Brazil, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 25 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

25 Responses to “Dana White on why UFC 134 Rio was one of the company’s all-time best showings”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    1) The UFC officially has their 3rd big time market with a good timezone. This was a big event.

    2) Forrest Griffin should move to Heavyweight, stop with the big weight cuts and see if he can improve his career that way. He is big enough to compete in that weight division and he will have a speed advantage against a lot of them. But Griffin mentally no shows a lot….

    3) As much as this was one of Anderson Silva’s best performances it was also one of his most worrisome. He was missing a lot of punches in the first round. I said before this fight that he will lose one of his next 3 fights no matter who he is fighting. I still stand by that. 2 more fights to go…. Something tells me he is going to lose to the winner of Sonnen/Stann.

    4) I don’t want to see Silva/GSP. Too much of a size difference. Silva/Jones makes more sense.

    • edub says:

      “Forrest Griffin should move to Heavyweight, stop with the big weight cuts and see if he can improve his career that way. He is big enough to compete in that weight division and he will have a speed advantage against a lot of them. But Griffin mentally no shows a lot….”

      I’m in complete agreement with all of this. He will have a tough time handling some of those guys’ power, but with a speed advantage he could avoid it better. Plus he could start strength training without the 30-40lb weight cut involved.

  2. spacedog says:

    Man, there are times when you just want the favorite to win. Last night was one of those times. The results fit the moment and Big Nog showed again why he might well be the most respected man in the history of the HW. Despite being old and beat to hell he has shown he can hang in the UFC even in the twilight of his career and that he belongs in the pantheon of all time greats.

    Shogun should cut to 185 and fight Silva.

    I wonder how much Silva is studying Aikido. I saw a lot of elements in that fight.

  3. Progress says:

    It was pretty good. Pride’s talent is still carrying MMA. The more UFC starts to look like Pride in terms of card quality, the better it gets. But we already knew that. Only Dana was a bit “surprised”.

    • Chromium says:

      “PRIDE’s talent is still carrying MMA”

      One out of seven UFC Champions are from Pride. Depending on whether you count Nick Diaz or not, one or two out of seven #1 contenders are from Pride. You could say that Pride fighters are certainly still relevant, and one of them is the p4p king, but they are hardly “carrying” MMA these days, that’s just being silly.

      PRIDE Fighting Championships was a mighty organization that carried the sport of MMA to amazing heights on the other side of the Pacific when it was close to extinction in North America but people have to face the fact that Pride is dead now. It died a long time ago. To quote a warlord who opposed Genghis Khan and lost, and then chose death over becoming a subservient general despite having been a childhood friend, “There can be only one sun in the sky.”

      • Steve4192 says:

        I wouldn’t even classify Silva as a PRIDE fighter. He was a nobody in PRIDE. He was a curtain jerker who never got anywhere near the main event. He was a Shooto champ who got called up, failed to make an impression, and was sent packing on a two-fight losing streak.

        Calling him as a PRIDE fighter is like calling Dan Henderson or Wanderlei Silva a UFC fighter. Sure, they fought in the UFC before PRIDE, but PRIDE is where they became legends and that is where they rightfully belong in the UFC versus PRIDE debate. On the other hand, Anderson Silva’s legacy was built in the UFC. He should be classified as a UFC fighter based on that.

        • edub says:

          That’s my thing. He was 1-2 in Pride, and left there to go compete in Cage Rage. I wouldn’t classify him as a Pride fighter, and I think doing it is a huge reach.

          He was competing in the UFC before Pride’s downfall, and is definitely a “UFC figher” if you were to have the ridiculous debate of Pride

  4. david m says:

    I was so happy to see Nog win; I thought he was going to get KTFO’d again. He looked slow, but his chin held up. Schaub is a good athlete but has a lot of work to do (obviously).

    • edub says:

      What is it called when you can’t take even a light solid shot to the temple. Each time he’s been touched there (Nog, Nelson, Cro Cop elbow) he’s either been rocked or knocked out cold.

  5. Nepal says:

    Dana and co must be thrilled that almost all the winners were Brazilian. Can you imagine the celebrating going on down there? The media is going to have a field day celebrating the greatness of Brazilian MMA fighters. I actually believe Lorenzo when he says they might do 4 shows in Brazil next year.

    MMA is a great sport for a country like Brazil. It’s like basketball in the US, little expensive gear to get going in the sport. A great way to get out of the ghetto. Soccer/football will always be number one in Brazil but MMA could easily be a close #2.

    I like the way Dana made excuses for Forrest’s poor showing. Forrest is like Bonner, they’ll forever be in Dana’s good books no matter what. I still wonder about Shogun, I think his knees haven’t been really tested yet.

    • RST says:

      “Dana and co must be thrilled that almost all the winners were Brazilian.”

      Ahh, yes.
      The magic of skillfully promoted mismatching.

      PRIDE could have done no better.


  6. Dave says:

    Outside of it having some ex-PRIDE guys I really feel like this was one of the more enjoyable UFC events in a long time. The last Versus card was really good, the best of the year probably, and this was the best PPV by far.

    If they can keep pumping out cards like this I have absolutely no problem saying good things about UFC.

    They should go back to Brazil as it looked like a great market for them with a growing fanbase that won’t be as burned out as all of the markets they run in the US are.

  7. RST says:

    anderson MIGHT be the best fighter in the game right now, he seems to have the skills. But its not because of his accomplishments.

    He’s seems to be a damn fine athlete, at least much better then most of the UFC’s 185 roster, but he’s not a impressive competitor.

    Randy couture was a great competitor.
    He sought out challenges.

    Anderson silva has been slaughtering straggling sheep in cutesy fashion in the weakest division in the UFC for years.
    And would rather not do anything else.

    Of course the fanbois think its neat, its like a stupid action movie.
    But when he retires in the next few years the truth will still be that his best wins were Hendo, who won that first round, and barely getting past chael sonnen.


    The dancing around and lighting reflexes ARE impressive, and cool looking, but michael jackson wasn’t the greatest p4P fighter either.

    • edub says:

      Honestly, this whole explanation is a little short on having a valid argument.

      185 lbs is not on the level of 170 or 205, but to call it the weakes over HW is ridiculous. And putting LW above it would be a huge stretch too. He’s a 185 lb fighter, that has dominated ever great 185lb fighter besides Chael Sonnen in MMA history (unless you qualify Paulo Filho, Dennis Kang, and Kazuo Misaki as “great” which I don’t think anyone would), and he still beat Chael.

      His best wins were over the top 5 ranked Forrest Griffin at 205 (probably the best display of dominance over a quality opponent in MMA history), 2 TKO wins over Rich Franklin, making Hendo his bitch after losing a round, and maybe the Chael win strictly because of the comeback (it’s hard to say Chael is a great opponent in MMA history when he’s lost close to a quarter of his fights by submission).

      He maybe a dick (he is), he maybe an asshole (he is), and he’s definitely a huge hypocrite when it comes to showing respect for his opponents; but in the short history MMA has been around, he is the most accomplished fighter (with GSP being a close second).

      • david m says:

        I can’t in good conscience allow Forrest Griffin to be called a top-5 fighter. I hope that historically this myth of Forrest being a great fighter at one point is corrected. He was 4-3 in his previous 7 fights, with one win over clearly out of shape Shogun, another over clearly out of shape Rampage, and decisions over Sick Dog Ramirez and Bonnar. His losses were to Tito and 2 stoppages to Rashad and Jardine.

        Why is Anderson more accomplished than Fedor? I don’t understand the amnesia of mma fans; Anderson has won like 14 in a row? Fedor won 31 in a row if you consider the cut loss should be a N/C, and if you don’t, then he won 27 in a row. I don’t want to hear anyone talk about strength of schedule; Anderson was beating Thales Leites, Patrick Cote and James Irvin. Those are all fine wins, but let’s not act like he was fighting a GSP-like schedule. Anderson has some great wins: Chael, Hendo, Marquardt (I guess), Okami, Franklin, and Vitor.

        I guess Fedor’s great wins would be: Nog x2, Mirko, Randleman, Coleman (the first time before he was entirely shot), Fujita (Fedor’s Chael moment). An argument could be made for calling Sylvia still a high-level fighter when Fedor beat him in 30 seconds, given that Sylvia’s previous fight 5 months before was a UFC hw title shot he was dominating against Nog until he got choked. Even Arlovski had 4 wins in a row before Fedor ended his soul.

        At the end of the day, 27 wins or 31 in a row > 14 or 15 or 16 wins in a row in terms of overall accomplishment. There is no reason that Fedor’s late-career losses should somehow devalue him more than Anderson’s early losses devalue him.

        • edub says:

          First off, the fact that you try to discount the only three “bad wins” of Anderson’s streak, and then include Randleman and Coleman as part of Fedor’s best wins makes the argument shaky at best before we even get to the other parts.

          You make excuses for Forrest beating the top fighter in the world back to back, and in the same breath devalue wins over Leites and Cote who were both top ten ranked fighters when Silva beat them. All it becomes is running around specific situations that happened to fit your argument better.

          Fedor the best HW in MMA’s short history, but just like in boxing, HW is far below the competition level of the WW, LHW, MW, and LW classes. Brett Rogers at one point was a top ten ranked fighter, Brock Lesnar was the UFC HW champion after 4 fights, Cain Velasquez is the best HW in the world after 9 fights, and there are many more instances of people with little talent (compared to the other divisions) rising far up the ranks.

          You make references to boxing earlier, so I will do the same here. Rocky Marciano won every fight in his career. That’s 49 wins and 0 losses. He’s got great names on his resume too, Joe Louis (shot but still there), Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, among others. But no boxing historian will put him as the top HW of all time, let alone best PFP in the sports’ history. One reason is because HW has had an abundance of great fighters in boxing’s history, but another is the fact that HW has always been thinner then the other divisions.

          To round it up, when Fedor was at his best, the sport was still growing. The only guys that were dominant when Fedor was at his best, and still compete at the top of their game are Rampage Jackson, Shogun Rua, and GSP. You could even discount GSP and Shogun because they were still coming in to their own back then. Now could that mean that guys just got old? Absolutely. But the fact that training has become better, game-planning has gotten better, and the athletes entering the sport have more to work with makes the accomplishments from the top guys of that generation (Fedor, Hughes, Gomi, Wanderlei, Chuck, Randy, etc.) a little bit below what the best guys are doing today.

        • david m says:

          185 is a weak division, whether or not you want to admit it. Rashad, Machida, and Shogun could all make 185, but choose to stay at a heavier weight because 205 has always been the showcase division in the UFC (Hendo and Wanderlei similarly didn’t commit to 185 because more money was at 205).

          I remember when the UFC first introduced the 185 pound division, it was a 5 round affair between Dave Menne and Gil Castillo, the only watchable fight on the worst ppv in UFC history, UFC 33, the UFC’s return to ppv. 170 has always been a glamour division as well, between legends like Miletich, Newton, Hughes, Penn, and GSP. 185 has not. Menne lost to Busta, who never lost, and then what did they do? I think Tanner vs David Terrell for the vacant title (correct me if I’m wrong). The 20 pound weight difference between LHW and MW, the largest gap between any of the divisions save HW, also has contributed to the division’s historical weakness.

          If you are asking me if Anderson is the greatest fighter ever, I would not say yes based on his accomplishments. I think a prime Sakuraba would have massacred him. Sadly we never got to see such a fight because Anderson was too busy losing to bums in Pride.

          As far as Fedor goes, of course there is a smaller talent pool at hw, but I know without question that Nog and Mirko were both much better p4p than anyone Anderson has ever beaten. I’m not going to defend the state of hw mma in the last 10 years, but Fedor has beaten something like 5 former UFC champions, so it is kind of unfair to assert that Anderson is better because his half-as-long winning streak came against guys who you think are better; Fedor fought the best guys and beat the shit out of all of them.

        • edub says:

          “185 is a weak division, whether or not you want to admit it.”

          You might have missed it so I’ll post what I wrote the comment right before yours: “185 lbs is not on the level of 170 or 205”

          To translate that, yes I think MW is a weak division, and admitted it (just as you admit HW is weak). However, it being a weak division doesn’t mean it’s weaker or even as weak as the HW division.

          The problem is those 5 former UFC champions (Arlovski, Tim, Randleman, and Coleman), are relics of MMA history more than they have a legacy as a great fighter. Anderson Silva has beaten more of 185lbs greatest competitors than Fedor has of HWs. There’s not much debating that. And Anderson has beaten top guys from other divisions too (Mach, Griffin, and if your going to use overrated UFC champs I’ll throw in Carlos Newton).

          “As far as Fedor goes, of course there is a smaller talent pool at hw, but I know without question that Nog and Mirko were both much better p4p than anyone Anderson has ever beaten.”

          Completely disagree.

          At the time of their fights, Hayato Mach Sakurai, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, were better PFP.

          The UFC’s MW division was horrid during the early years they instituded it. However, Anderson wasn’t dominant until the sport exploded, and he hasn’t lost in 5 years (7 if you don’t count the Okami fight). To put it plainly; Silva has been dominant in an age that history will look at as a talent explosion, and even the guys that aren’t top tier were tough outs for anybody on his record (Jeremy Horn, Lee Murray, Chris Leben, Travis Lutter, Jorge Rivera). Fedor’s record, while the best at HW, is littered with Zulu, Matt Lindland (a LW would be the equivalent), Yugi Nagata, Naoya Ogawa, Mihail Apostolov, Lee Hasdell, etc.

          Lastly, if were gonna go with singular fights Fedor’s two best opponents have to be Cro Cop and Nogeira. While Anderson’s have to be Franklin and Henderson. Fedor beat both convincingly, but Anderson demolished both. No decision needed.

          With everything stated: The lack of competition at HW and bigger pool at MW, the more career top tier wins for Anderson, the more competitive era for MMA, and the years of dominance without taking on “freak show fights”, I think Anderson is the most accomplished fighter of all time. I think stats back that up.

          However, I understand you think stats back up your side more with the longer winning streak, and the opinion of better competition. So I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

        • david m says:

          sorry for delay in response; this site’s main shortcoming is that it is very poorly designed for engaging in actual discussion except if said discussion is on the top story on the page. (ZACH, I KNOW YOU ARE READING THIS, WHY DON’T YOU PUT A LINK ON THE TOP OF THE FRONT PAGE WITH ONGOING DISCUSSIONS INCLUDING WHEN THE LAST POST WAS MADE AND BY WHOM)

          We can agree to disagree on a lot, apparently. I have no idea how you can rationalize Rich Franklin or Mach Sakurai and to a slightly lesser extent Dan Henderson being as good as Nog and Mirko–Mirko was a world class kickboxer who was a freak athlete and impossible to take down, and Nog was a great boxer with an unbelievable chin and the best jiu jitsu in the game. Actually, Mirko isn’t much bigger than Rich. Mirko used to compete in K1 at about 214, and in Pride I remember when he fought Wanderlei the second time he was actually lighter than Silva. Rich probably walks around 220 as well; they certainly both could have made 205. Do you really think a fight between those two would have been the slightest bit competitive? I don’t think Hendo vs Mirko at 205 would have been competitive either. It would have looked like the 2nd round of Anderson vs Hendo, except that Mirko is a much more powerful man than Anderson with faster and harder kicks and harder punches.

          I don’t disagree that guys like Murray, Leben, Rivera were all solid mid-carders, but so what? I’m talking about GREAT fighters, hall of fame legends. Franklin, god bless him, is not even in that category. He is an excellent fighter and could conceivably be in the HOF, but that would be more because of how shitty the division was rather than who he was beating. Clearly Hendo is a legend, but in his prime he still struggled with guys that he shouldn’t have; Nog and Mirko were so clearly the best in the world except for Fedor, and Fedor outstruck Mirko and outgrappled Nog.

          In my honest opinion, GSP is more accomplished than Anderson; he has beaten a litany of world-class fighters and dominated them entirely. Fitch, Hughes, Penn, Shields are all going to the HOF, and Alves, Trigg, and Koscheck are all very high level fighters as well. If he beats Diaz (and I am cheering for Nick), GSP will have literally cleaned out the most competitive division in the sport entirely. Who would be left? I guess Anthony Johnson, but I have no idea how he can ever make 170.

          For the record, I did actually miss your comment on 170 and 205 being stronger; I wasn’t being intentionally ignorant.

        • edub says:

          “We can agree to disagree on a lot, apparently. I have no idea how you can rationalize Rich Franklin or Mach Sakurai and to a slightly lesser extent Dan Henderson being as good as Nog and Mirko–Mirko was a world class kickboxer who was a freak athlete and impossible to take down, and Nog was a great boxer with an unbelievable chin and the best jiu jitsu in the game.”

          Mirko was a great fighter with a lot of talent, but who is the best guy he ever beat? Josh Barnett? Aleks Emelianenko? Wanderlei Silva? He was never higher the #2 in his own division, and how he passed up Nog when he never beat him is beyond me. For how great he looked, he never really had a top of the top tier win in MMA, and less than a year after his OWGP performance, he was crushed by Gabriel Gonzaga. Then beat up by Kongo. On top of that his chin being garbage isn’t some recent event. He was knocked out cold by a career .500 fighter in Kevin Randleman 7 years ago. He was clearly ahead of the guys he faced, but a guy like Sylvia or Arlovski could very easily have KOd him just the same as all were in their prime in the mid 2000s.

          Nog had a great chin, and good BJJ (his ground game was never the best in the HW division as Ricco proved in one of the worst decisions in MMA history, and Fedor smashed through after). He had good boxing that got showcased last week against Schaub, but never top tier for a HW. He has great wins, but was also a product of a weak generation of HW fighters. Even though he’s probably still the second most accomplished HW fighter in MMA’s history.

          Dan Henderson has wins over Wanderlei Silva, Big Nog, Fedor (even a faded version), Carlos Newton (Prime), Bustamante, Kazuo Misaki, Rich Franklin, and Vitor Belfort. He’s been a staple of the top 5 at both 185 and 205 for close to ten years, and is probably a top ten all time fighter.

          Rich Franklin was the universally recognized best 185lber in the world when Anderson beat him. He had only one loss in his career, and that was to Lyoto Machida at 205. He was a staple in the top 5 until Dana told him to move up, and stop picking off prospective Silva opponents, where he’s become a fringe top 10 contender.

          Mach Sakurai was undefeated when Anderson beat him, and recognized as one of the top 2 fighters at 170 lbs in MMA. Later on he became a top tier LW with wins over a prime Jens Pulver, Shinya Aoki (then again at 170), and Joachim Hansen.

          Rich Franklin is debatable and probably falls short of the two big guys, but Dan Henderson and Hayato Sakurai are most certainly better wins in a PFP sense compared to Big Nog and Mirko. Those are three fighters that have either been looked at as the best or top 3 at one point in their careers, ranging from LW – LHW (4 weight classes).

          Big Nog and Cro Cop were most certainly hyped more, but Hendo and Sakurai have fought and beaten better competition. That doesn’t even count Rich Franklin or Vitor Belfort who as opponents are ahead of anybody else on Fedor’s list.

          After those wins for Fedor who else was top 5? Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia were there. Heath Herring was close, and Brett Rogers is debatable. Matt Lindland was a top tier MW at the time. Mark Coleman is debatable as a top 10 opponent (both times). Randleman could be put there strictly because of his win over Cro Cop. Goodrich is a huge stretch for inside the top 10, as is Schilt, but that about rounds it up.

          Anderson has top 5 wins (besides the aforementioned) over Demian Main, Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt, and Chael Sonnen. He has top 10 wins over Cote, Leites, Leben, Lutter, and Horn. He has a top 5 win over welterweight Carlos Newton. He has a top 3 win over LHW Forrest Griffin. Murray and Rivera are debatable.

          When you put it all together not only does Anderson have the better top tier wins, but his resume is a step above Emelianenko’s from top to bottom.

          -I agree with almost everything you said about GSP. He IMO is slightly behind Anderson strictly because of the Matt Serra KO. I would say Condit has an argument for 170 a little bit more than Diaz though (so he could still have a shot). Better wins over better competition. The strength of schedule isn’t even close.

          Both Anderson and Georges have figuratively cleaned out their divisions, and I find it funny that Dana is saying both are “1 or 2 fights away from the fight being made”. When he said the same thing a year and a half ago. It all really comes down to if GSP wants to move up or not. Personally I’d be fine with him staying, moving up to challenge Silva, or Silva moving up to challenge 205ers.

          “except that Mirko is a much more powerful man than Anderson with faster and harder kicks and harder punches.”

          BTW, also completely disagree with this. Power is a maybe, but speed isn’t even close. Cro Cop looked fast against naturally slow people. Anderson looks fast against guys that were thought to have above average quickness. On top of that accuracy is easily a win for Anderson.

  8. Zach Arnold says:

    david m:

    sorry for delay in response; this site’s main shortcoming is that it is very poorly designed for engaging in actual discussion except if said discussion is on the top story on the page. (ZACH, I KNOW YOU ARE READING THIS, WHY DON’T YOU PUT A LINK ON THE TOP OF THE FRONT PAGE WITH ONGOING DISCUSSIONS INCLUDING WHEN THE LAST POST WAS MADE AND BY WHOM)

    There’s an easy way around this and it’s not a bad suggestion idea. I’ll work on it tonight. Thanks.


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