Friday, March 9, 2007

Dana White interview (Part 2 of 2)

By Sam Caplan

Editor's Note: The following is Part 2 of Sam Caplan's candid interview with UFC president Dana White. In Part 1, White discussed several upcoming UFC events including the fights scheduled and TV plans. White also covered a variety of topics ranging from the new EliteXC promotion to the UFC futures of Tim Sylvia and Brandon Vera.

Q: It has been reported that the UFC's contract with Spike will expire in mid-2008. Will there be an exclusive negotiation period with Spike or will the negotiations be opened to other parties from the outset?

DW: I love Spike TV, and we've done great things with Spike, and I'm not even considering looking anywhere else.

Q: When do you anticipate talks towards a new TV deal starting?

DW: I don't know. That's a good question. Soon. We'll say soon.

Q: You mentioned in the past that you're working on having ESPN cover the UFC. Might ESPN be a possibility to start televising UFC shows like Fight Night and The Ultimate Fighter? I know you just said that you want to stick with Spike, but if ESPN came into the picture and offered you guys a big-money deal, would you guys look at that?

DW: Yeah, I mean we can do fights outside of our Spike deal. If ESPN was interested, yeah, absolutely. It makes sense, I think us doing something with ESPN is not only good for the UFC, it's good for Spike.

Q: Bubba the Love Sponge and Scott Ferrall from Sirius Satellite Radio have done remotes from the past several UFC events. Might we one day see a satellite radio channel devoted exclusively to the UFC?

DW: Could be. We've talked about it.

Q: It was reported that Quinton "Rampage" Jackson only signed a two-fight deal. What was the thinking behind signing him to only two fights, and are there any negotiations taking place in regards to an extension?

DW: We didn't sign him for a two-fight deal, we bought the WFA, and he was already under contract. We own his contract from the WFA.

Q: So how long is he under contract for?

DW: Off the top of my head, I don't know. I couldn't give you the exact specifics on it.

Q: So that was basically an erroneous report that he had only signed for two fights?

DW: Yeah, exactly. People like to talk like they know what they're talking about, but they have no idea.

Q: Will Rampage fight Chuck for the title in May?

DW: Most likely.

Q: How close is that to being a done deal?

DW: I don't know. I don't like announcing deals before they're done, so I can just say it's not a done deal but that's the fight I'd like to see happen.

Q: Aside from Heath Herring, Ryoto Machida, Marvin Eastman and Rampage, will we see any other fighters whose contracts were acquired from the WFA in the UFC anytime soon?

DW: Possibly, yeah. Off the top of my head, not a question I could answer right now.

Q: In a recent interview I conducted with Pride's Jerry Millen, Millen questioned your integrity by saying you haven't been truthful in regard to your comments about trying to put together a match between Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell in the past. Would you care to address those comments?

DW: Like I said earlier about Gary Shaw, I don't know much about Gary Shaw or anything else, but I do know this about Jerry Millen: The guy's an idiot. Pride is in a situation right now where they're in trouble, and they're trying to grab for anything they can on the way down, so I think that's why Jerry Millen is even being put in a position right now where he's even allowed to speak publicly. I can tell you this, and I've been in a million meetings with Pride's upper management for a lot of different things, and Jerry Millen has never been in any of them. The first time I ever met Jerry Millen, he was a production guy, you know, one of the guys who handles production and stuff. I think he's the only guy over there who spoke English, and he works for cheap money, so they're letting him speak publicly now or whatever is. I can tell you Jerry Millen doesn't know jack s--- about anything that I've ever talked to with Pride's upper management, he's not at that level. How they let him run around and shoot his mouth like he is, he knows nothing about what's going on behind the scenes, or as far as Pride's business goes.

Q: Millen also said the UFC claimed UFC 66 did 1.2 million in PPV buys and said that he'd bet every dime he had that it wasn't the true number.

DW: We never, ever, ever, tell anybody what our pay-per-view numbers are. People go out there and people assume what numbers are. So there goes Jerry Millen again sticking his foot in his goofy mouth. He has no idea what he's talking about. You'll never hear me out there saying "We did this many buys." We don't ever tell anyone what we did as far as buys go. Jerry Millen's 15 minutes are almost up.

Q: Will Travis Lutter continue to fight for the UFC?

DW: That's a good question. I don't know. You know, I'm pretty mad at Travis. I'm pretty upset with him. It's very unprofessional and very irresponsible to come in the way that he came in. It's crazy.

Q: Forrest Griffin lost his composure after losing to Keith Jardine at UFC 66. Did Forrest's post-fight behavior hurt his stock with the UFC?

DW: No, not at all. Forrest Griffin, let me tell you what about Forrest Griffin, what I love about this kid, this kid works harder than anybody I've ever met before. He cares. He cares about winning and losing. I couldn't say enough good things about him. It would very hard for Forrest Griffin to hurt his stock with the UFC. I still to this day, and will to the day I die, credit him and Stephan Bonnar and their war at the end of The Ultimate Fighter season one for helping us get to where we are today. Those kids came out and let it all hang out, they're the kind of fighters that I admire, respect and would do anything for.

Q: Any chance we might see Phil Baroni back in the UFC in the near future?

DW: Absolutely. If Phil Baroni gets back on top and continues to win and do well, yeah, we could definitely fit Phil Baroni back.

Q: Frank Shamrock said in a recent interview I did with him that you called to try to get him back into the UFC soon after his win over Cesar Gracie last March. Is that true?

DW: Frank Shamrock is an idiot. Frank Shamrock is a self-promoter who really doesn't care about anything other than Frank Shamrock.

Q: So it's not true that you guys contacted him and tried to get him back?

DW: I've talked to Frank Shamrock many times. Frank Shamrock will lead you to believe that we've never talked and we completely have hated each other forever and everything else. He's a weird guy. He's a very, very weird guy. I can't explain it. Frank is a weird guy.

Q: Is Joe Riggs going to fight for the WEC?

DW: He is.

Q: Zuffa also owns the WEC, which has a 145-pound division. Might we see a 145-pound division in the UFC anytime soon?

DW: No, I don't think we will anytime soon. That's why we did it in the WEC.

Q: Is Evan Tanner still under contract to the UFC, and if so, is there any chance we'll see him fight again soon?

DW: He's not (under contract). Evan Tanner is battling some personal demons, and he's another guy I respect and like, and I'd have him back anytime when he's ready to compete.

Q: What's the latest on Sean Sherk's status?

DW: He's recovering well, and we should see him back soon.

Q: June or July, around that time?

DW: Yeah.

Sam Caplan is a Philadelphia-based sports talk show host and freelance sportswriter. He's also an amateur mixed martial artist (and we do mean amateur) who trains out of the Mixed Martial Arts Academy of Philadelphia. Sam can be reached via e-mail at or you can check out his blog at:


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