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Dana White: “The Ultimate Fighter isn’t about good TV”

By Zach Arnold | October 5, 2012

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There’s a lot of curious & chaotic events happening in MMA right now. Dennis Hallman got the axe from the UFC after failing to make weight for his Minneapolis fight against Thiago Tavares. Anderson Silva says he won’t jump up in weight to fight Jon Jones. Crazy like a fox? Then there’s Donald Cerrone who revealed that UFC has added new clauses to their bout contracts prohibiting fighters from engaging in certain activities… which Cerrone has no intention of honoring.

We have King Mo — who WFAN’s Chris Carton on Spike TV said yesterday looked like Liberace with a King’s crown, sparkling robe, and throne. Paging Jerry Lawler. Mo gave Bobby Roode a piece of his mind on TNA Impact Wrestling last night. Then the Diaz Brothers afterwards on Spike TV acted like The Diaz Brothers.

But when it comes to crazy talk, nobody is better at it than Dana White.

He was asked about his biggest regret while being the front man for the UFC.

ARIEL HELWANI: “If you could give us an honest answer, we’d appreciate it.”

DANA WHITE: “Stop lying to us and answer this one right!”

ARIEL HELWANI: “I want to know, at the end of the day, you’ve looked back on what you’ve done in the UFC thus far. Your biggest regret?”

DANA WHITE: “My biggest regret? … You guys have to understand that this is the way that I honestly, I swear to God, this sounds… you’re going to think that I’m giving you an unhonest answer but I have no regrets. The only thing, if I look back throughout the whole thing, the only thing that I regret is, uh, in that video blog when I used the F word. And I mean that, that’s the only thing throughout the 12 year… you know… of running the UFC, that’s the only thing that I regret. You know, I came off in that thing, you know, people you know still today that I’m some type of homophobe, which I’m not. I’m the furthest thing from it. So, I could say that’s my only regret and it’s still the only thing that really bothers me.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Flip side, greatest accomplishment? What’s the thing you’re most proud of?”

DANA WHITE: “The Fox deal. Without a doubt. I mean, there’s so many things… there’s a whole list of things that we’ve accomplished over the last 12 years, um, but the Fox deal is definitely the biggest.”

As commenter Alan Conceicao argued recently, changes on Fox cable television properties could generate better lead-in programming for UFC shows. The problem is that UFC’s TV product, for the most part, is as cold as a block of ice when it comes to generating heat with the masses. There isn’t a better example of this than the deader-than-deader Ultimate Fighter reality show which should be killed off without haste.

ARIEL HELWANI: “It’s almost surreal considering your relationship wtih Roy that he’s a coach. Without giving away too much, how has that been for you?”

DANA WHITE: “It hasn’t been good. … It’s a nuisance.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Do you regret it?”

DANA WHITE: “I don’t know whether it’s good TV or not. I mean, at the end of the day, what people have to really understand is… The Ultimate Fighter isn’t about good TV, it’s about finding the best guys. Finding the best guys to get in the UFC, we bring in these coaches because we pick guys that we believe that have something to offer, um… and not just in training but, you know, knowledge and experience and all these other things that come along with the guys who we pick for coaches and, uh… wow.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Do you regret it?”

DANA WHITE: “Let’s see how it ends, first. It ain’t over, yet.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Has he been the toughest coach to deal with?”

DANA WHITE: “By far. By far. By far, the worst coach to deal with.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Was it your decision?”

DANA WHITE: “Well, yeah, it’s always ultimately my decision in the end but, you know, everybody gets together, we talk about it, and I said, ‘I like it. Let’s do it.'”

ARIEL HELWANI: “What about Shane (Carwin)? Pretty mild-mannered guy.”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah, Shane’s a mellow guy. He’s pretty easy-going and, whatever, you know, but… he doesn’t like Roy, either.”

This led to a discussion about life-after-UFC for Dana and what UFC needs to do next to maintain growth for their operations on a worldwide stage. Perhaps Jordan Breen was right about Dana getting psyched for a future concept of TUF India.

ARIEL HELWANI: “When the times were good, like recently, has there ever been a time where you were like, you know what, I’m done with this? Perhaps when you had to cancel UFC 151. Was there ever a moment where, I don’t know, I mean your relationship with Lorenzo (Fertitta) seems to be the greatest business relationship in the history of business relationships. You guys never fight, he’s always behind you, you’re behind him. But has there ever been a moment where you were actually close to leaving the organization?”

DANA WHITE: “No. … No. … Nope. There never has been. Listen, I’ve had some… you know, we’ve had some crazy times. Never again, like, with me and my partners, that’s never happened. Never even close. Never even come close to that happening. And that’s what crazy. You hear about, you know, I guess my best example is Rage Against the Machine because I’m such a huge fan of RATM. The last concert I went to was July 28th, it was my birthday. I went to the concert, 70,000 people were at that concert and these guys can’t get along enough to play concerts together. It’s just crazy. I mean, Guns ‘n Roses, and tons of other business relationships. Guys that I wouldn’t mention but guys that I’ve known that, just, for some reason couldn’t get along with their partners and I think it’s because there’s too much ego involved. I know that people, you know, they see me on TV or press conferences and think I’m some type of egomaniac. But if I was, then I’d probably still wouldn’t be here. Me and my partners have been through some crazy stuff, you know, there’s a time when 12 years ago when this thing was failing and we were losing millions of dollars, nobody fights, nobody points fingers and then when things take off and everything starts making money ,ti’s never about, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m the guy, I’m this, I’m the that,’ we all have our jobs to do. We all have our little piece or what makes this thing great. Um… but… there’s no ego.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Have you started to think about life after the UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “No. I’m 43! You know, people ask me that question like I’m 73. You know, I’m 43, I’m probably 73 in UFC years but I’m 43 years old and… regardless of my age, there’s a lot of things that need to be done. There’s a lot of things that need to be done and I believe that me and the Fertittas and, uh, our crew over at Zuffa have built a pretty awesome road map and game plan of where this thing’s going to go. And, uh, it now needs to be executed and needs to be, you know, you got to go in and do the work and that’s what we’re doing.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “What are some of the things that need to be done?”

DANA WHITE: “We’re going into all of these countries. There’s a lot of things that need to be done that I really don’t want to talk about on camera but there’s a lot of things that still need to be done. This thing is nowhere near where it’s going to be and the craziest part is is every day when I go to work, we know what needs to be done, we know what we have to do, but it’s the stupid stuff that happens that I got to deal with that takes you off track and, you know, you maybe get to spend 2 hours doing what you really needed to do while dealing with fires and all the shit that pops up every day.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 Responses to “Dana White: “The Ultimate Fighter isn’t about good TV””

  1. cutch says:

    Surely going from 40 million homes to 80 million homes has got to be a plus right? I would think that was one of the reasons Fox signed the UFC, not to fill spots on Fox or FX but for their new TV channel.

    As someone who has Fox owned Sky Sports (which Fox Sports will look like, I would guess) I would say News Corp know what they are doing when it comes to sports channels (They have loads of successful Sports channels all over the world)

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Doubling a channels reach in a year is almost unheard of in TV these days. It is a huge plus.

      My guess is that FuelTV will become a national FOX Sports channel as a competitor to ESPN and NBC Sports. The regional stations they have are very good for what they are. But they need that national station to bring it all together.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I should also point out that the number of homes is only one piece of it. Getting the channel in more HD Homes is really a huge deal. I would love to see those numbers. I know when I had cable that if it wasn’t in HD I typically didn’t watch it (MMA excluded). So I know for the casual viewer that is a huge thing.

        • cutch says:

          It’s Speed that will become the Fox Sport network according to that article and the UFC will move over to there, along with the other sports.

          Fuel will probably become what Speed is now, dedicated to motor racing.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Thats name change stuff….

          UFC does belong on a sports channel. NBC Sports or the future FOX Sports makes the most sense for them. They probably would get lost on ESPN….

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      Of course it matters. It also means they might not be shunted off to Friday nights either.


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