UFC is back in Southern California this weekend with another historic card at the Honda Center in Anaheim. That was the first building to host a UFC event in California, was the home for their first televised card on FOX and this Saturday the place will be sold out for the first female fight in UFC history.
Ronda Rousey, who I personally saw tear through the women’s judo competition at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, will be continuing her meteoric rise to the top of Mixed Martial Arts. She debuted in March 2011, won the Strikeforce (now UFC) women’s title in March 2012 and is set to defend her strap for the first time at UFC 157, where she’ll take on Liz Carmouche.
Other fights before the main event include Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson (with the winner getting a shot at the light-heavyweight champion later this year), Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler and Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar.
Fight week kicked off yesterday with open workouts at the UFC Gym in Torrance. Today, the roadshow was at the arena, where Dana White hosted the UFC 157 pre-fight press conference. And if you’re familiar with UFC at all, you probably know that White is perhaps the best interview in all of sports.
He never holds back and will answer any question – often with free flowing f-bombs and other colorful language. White takes ‘straight shooter’ to level unseen in today’s entire sports world.
Here are his comments (NSFW) from the scrum that took place after the main presser was over. We removed most of the uses of the f-word just to clean things up a little…
– On the media attention for UFC 157: “Well let’s take UFC 100, that was big. We spent a lot of money advertising and all this stuff. Still didn’t get the attention that this card is getting. I mean nothing. I’m trying to think of a fight that we’ve done and then talking about popularity that was big and felt big like everything else. Like a Lesnar fight or Chael/Anderson, but still HBO didn’t show up to interview any of those guys. Time magazine didn’t write it. Neither one of them tops the list on 30 on 30, and the list goes on.”
– On being afraid that the main even will play out badly: “I can’t control that. I always worry about things I can – no, I worry about things I can’t control too sometimes. Whatever happens happens. This could be unbelievable – this could be Stephan (Bonnar) and Forrest (Griffin) where it’s a war going back and forth and the crowd is going crazy, or it could be a 13 second arm bar or a five second knockout. I mean anything can happen, and you know how that’s going to go. There’s always different ways it could play out. Let’s say this thing is a war, it’s a battle and everyone says ‘Rousey isn’t as great as everyone says she was.’ Let’s say it’s a five second arm bar, ‘Oh Jesus, Liz Carmouche didn’t belong in there.’ It’s just going to be so many things. Who gives a shit. This thing is going to happen, and it’s going to play out however it plays out. We’ll go from there.”
– On some backlash against Rousey of late: “It’s one of the wonderful things about being successful. When you’re successful everybody hates your ass and wants to see you fall and fall hard.”
– On having the first openly gay fighter in Carmouche: “Contrary to popular belief, I couldn’t actually care less. And actually, I applaud her. People always ask me about athletes coming out and saying that they’re gay. I just think it’s a personal preference. You either want to come out or you don’t. And I think her story tells it the best. Don’t ask don’t tell, she was in that environment for years in the military. And when she got out she said, “I don’t want to live like this anymore. I want to come out, I want to move to a place where I can be comfortable and be happy with myself and my life.” And I respect that, and I applaud it. Who cares at the end of the day. I know how this country is – depending on where you live, (like) if you live in California – who cares if you come out. I mean, come out. It doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter to me. So anyone who wants to come out in the UFC, knock yourself out.”
– On any difficulty a male MMA fighter would have in coming out: “I think it’s probably one of those things…Again, I can assume. I can’t speak to what it’s like to be gay and to want to come out and want people to know. I can’t tell you what that feels like. But I would imagine there’s probably some people that are dying to do it and some people that aren’t. I can tell you right now, if you are a guy and you are gay, and you come out in the UFC, it will not change anything whatsoever about how you are marketed, or your performance, or your relationship with this company. I (couldn’t) care less.”
– On any surprise at the high-end MMA talent that’s available in the women’s divisions: “In that 135 pound division there’s a lot of talented people there. What I always said to you guys is, they’re just not deep enough to put (together a whole class). Then you get somebody like Ronda. You gotta have something to start, you know what I mean? You’ve gotta have something to kick start. She more than kick started the women’s division. You go out there and give her this fight and now there are contenders. You give contenders a shot, you tell their story. You know you’ve got to have something to start with.”
– On putting Carmouche ahead of Miesha Tate for title fight against Rousey: “You know, regardless of what has been said since we’ve been doing this fight, she’s the one that took the fight. She’s the one that wanted the fight at the time that this fight was happening. Other people were called, and other people turned down the fight. It’s a fact.”
– Even though they like to say otherwise: “Even though they say otherwise. Guys do this all the time. ‘I would have taken that fight’ blah blah blah. No you didn’t. You didn’t take it. You turned it down, right? If you don’t take the fight, you turned it down. ‘I don’t want to do the fight then.’ Well that’s when the fight is happening. That’s the date of the fight.”
– On UFC fans being ready for a non-Rousey female main event: “First of all, what we’ve done, is we’ve taken these two women (and) promoted them. You tell their story, who they are. We know they’re talented, you know they can fight, and you make that fight happen, right? Then, whatever happens after that, you have girls that are in line, that you can start rotating in and fighting and building up. The funny thing is, when people ask me these questions – How is this different than men when you’re dealing with talented people? …There’s only so many stars in any sport. And this is the girl it took to launch this thing. Now she has all these accolades and everyone thinks she’s so great. If she loses on Saturday night to Carmouche, Carmouche is the girl now. We’ve been in situations before with men. Where there is a guy that’s popular and he’s the champion and he sells lots of pay-per-views. The guy who beats him isn’t suddenly like ‘Now I take the torch and I sell lots of pay-per-views. Now I do this and I get all the media attention.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
– On the planned co-main event in Sweden being a Miesha Tate fight: “Gary Cook (changed our mind). We made the fights and we put the card together and we heard, ‘I don’t know if we’re ready for that yet.’ Joe Silva said, “They’re absolutely ready for that in Sweden. They’ve been doing that over there for years.” But he’s our guy over there and he didn’t want to do a co-main event with the women at first.”
– On not siding with Joe Silva over Gary Cook: “No, I go with Joe Silva’s guy and what he thinks. We live in a bubble my friend. You know what I mean? We do. I catch myself doing it all the time. Like there’s times where we’ll produce a show that we’re going to put on TV, and I’ll be watching it. I’ll be like, ‘Wait a minute, what am I thinking? We didn’t even ID this person.’ We expect everybody to know who these people are. Nobody knows who we are. You know, we’re still not mainstream. It’s not like watching a football game or a baseball game. And I lose track of that sometimes. And so do you guys because we all live in this bubble, where we all know so much shit, and who doesn’t know about an arm bar? That’s ridiculous because we live in this MMA bubble.”
– On if it’s feasible for Henderson to fight Sonnen, his friend: “Yes. Those two were talking shit about each other when Chael got the fight with Jones. It’s doable.”
– More on the light heavyweight contenders: “This fight will already happen, and then if Gustafsson wins he’d be – it’s all timing issues and injury. Who’s to say these two guys aren’t going to go three rounds like (Henderson) and Shogun went you know? One of them could end up hurt. You just never know what is going to happen.”
– On TRT (testosterone replacement therapy): “I think that testosterone replacement therapy has become a way to cheat. Any good thing that comes by, it’s a great thing that sports science has figured out a way that a guy who’s testosterone is slowing down as he gets older to bring it up to normal levels. What you’re going to do is you’re going to get guys who go ‘If I can get this much, and it brings me to normal levels, how much is THIS much going to do for me?’ And they crank it through their entire camp, and then wind it down toward the end of camp. So what you get is stronger, faster, recover faster from injuries. You know little nagging injuries, you recover faster from your workouts. While the other guy, who’s not on TRT and is training on his natural abilities, and doing weight training, and doing the shit that normal people do, doesn’t get the same benefit that a guy who’s on TRT does. Let me just put it this way, I believe that people have cheated on it and I don’t like it. It bothers me.”
– On the abuse the company takes sometimes: “The Fertitta brothers have invested in just about everything you can invest in. From gaming to liquor to restaurants, to this, to that. Their people thought that this was the dumbest idea in history. I’m serious. People were pissed. The UFC was the red-headed stepchild of the Fertitta portfolio for a very long time. It was a $2 million stupid purchase and went another $44 million into the hole. So when you look at this thing, the one thing everybody has to understand, I don’t give a fuck if you believe me, we love this sport. We’re passionate about this sport. Obviously we love the UFC brand. We always try to do the right thing. We pay guys more than what their contract says we have to pay them. We just did. I have three fights left with Cain Velasquez. We just signed a new eight-fight deal with Cain Velasquez. We resigned him. I didn’t have to do that, he deserved it. We did it. Health insurance. And the list goes on and on, all the things that we’ve done. So the thing that drives me the craziest is when people try to say we’re money hungry and this and that. Money hungry guys wouldn’t have bought this company in a million years. With the money that the Fertitta brothers have, they could have invested in a zillion things that were safer, smarter, and probably would have worked out for them. This thing was the biggest long shot in history, but it wasn’t about that – it was about the fact that we love this sport. Anyway, let’s get into Fitch.”
– On Jon Fitch being cut from the roster recently: “First of all, I want to apologize. I don’t remember all the guys that were cut. Vladimir Matyushenko was one of them, Josh Gripsi was one of them, and there were a few other guys. When Ariel Helwani tweeted that, they didn’t know that they were cut. And that was 100% my fault. I take full responsibility for it and I apologize. Because, first of all, Vladimir Matyushenko, I’ve known him since we bought this company. I love that guy, I respect him very much as a fighter and I have a great relationship with him and I always have. It has bothered me the last couple days that I did that to those kids. To find out on twitter or through somebody else that you were cut, instead of getting the phone call first. Believe me, I got the Joe Silva phone call that that hadn’t even been relayed to the fighters yet and I really do apologize to all the guys that that happened to. Number two, this is a sport, just like NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, or any other sport… The words that I was reading on twitter, ‘This is a travesty’ – like a tidal wave hit the biggest populated place on planet Earth and wiped out tons of women and children. Give me a break! This is a sport, just like any other sport. Woodson just got cut. The Green Bay Packers just cut Woodson okay? And a million other guys are getting cut, traded and everything else. Jon Fitch is ranked number nine. However you want to look at that, he’s ranked number nine. Now this isn’t a case where Jon Fitch was ranked number nine, number seven, number six, number four, number two and then we cut him. He was ranked number two, fought for the title and he was ranked number two. He’s ranked number 2, 3, 6, 7 and now he’s 9. That’s called the downside of your career. He’s on the downside. He’s lost two fights, one draw, and won one fight… I hear (on twitter) it’s because he beat Erick Silva, he beat his guy in Brazil and all this other shit. Who has Erick Silva beat? That was Erick Silva’s first real fight. It was a great fight. It won Fight of The Night and they won a bonus for it. Now Jon Fitch can go out and Viacom has plenty of money. Viacom MMA isn’t hurting for cash. There’s a lot of other places where this guy can go and he can make some money. The other thing is, Jon Fitch was ranked number one in the world, and yes Jon Fitch gets paid a lot of money. To put Jon Fitch on a prelim, or put Jon Fitch over here. The difference between Jon Fitch and Charles Woodson who just got cut is Jon Fitch can go get a couple more fights and come back to the UFC. Happens every day, all the time. So it’s not like Jon Fitch was on this incredible winning streak or one of the greatest welterweights in the history of the world. This guy’s a Hall of Famer? Has never won a title in his life. What do you consider a Hall of Famer? If Jon Fitch is a Hall of Famer, the thing is going to be packed. It’s going to be one huge Hall of Fame! You know what I’m saying?”
– On Fitch’s style factoring into the decision to cut him: “Before we get to his style, here is one more thing. ‘Dana hates Jon Fitch, he has hated him forever and he’s just been waiting to cut him since that video game deal.’ Are you shitting me? There’s nobody in the history of this business that I hated worse than Tito Ortiz. You know what I mean? Every time I’d sit down in my chair and watch a fight I’d be (thinking) ‘Beat his ass!’ That’s how bad I hated this guy. He ended his career in the UFC. There are guys, Rampage Jackson was just spewing all kinds of craziness about us. He came into fight and I shook his hand backstage before the fight and then again when he walked away he said, ‘You’re going to miss me.’ I said, ‘I miss you already brother.’ There’s no hard feelings. This whole Jon Fitch/Dana battle is so overrated. I don’t have one ounce of hate for Jon Fitch. I don’t hate the guy, I don’t even dislike him. I don’t, I like Jon Fitch.”
– More on Fitch: “The style, yeah the style…Let’s talk about Riddle. Do I hate him? Do I hate his style? Am I going to try to get him out of here now? Riddle fights just like Fitch. Well he has been lately. He went from super exciting to now he wants to grab your legs and hold you down. This is Mixed Martial Arts. What made the Erick Silva/Jon Fitch fight so great is the fact that Erick Silva could actually neutralize his wrestling a little bit and hit him with some strikes. That’s what makes a great fight. It goes the other way too. If you’re a guy that can be laid on, Che Mills. People were like Che Mills was cut? If you knew the way I felt about the way Che Mills fought that night – this is the UFC, this is the pinnacle of this sport. The best fighters in the world fight here okay? If you take that top position with 35 seconds left and then you just stand there, and you stand up and walk away, and then you get double legged again for the last 25 seconds, you didn’t want that fight bad enough. Fans are going crazy on me saying ‘He was tired!’ Well if you’re that tired after three rounds, you don’t belong here either. You should be in better shape than that.”
– On his recommendation to fighters: “The recommendation is that this is a combat sport, one of the toughest sports in the world. Anybody who is a professional athlete and you hit that window, make the most of it while you’re here.”
– On if it’s better to fight safe to win and avoid getting cut, or if it’s better to be exciting and maybe lose: “If that’s the way you think when you go out and fight, maybe you shouldn’t be here either. What you should do is you should go out and try to be the best in the world. And you should try to whoop everybody’s asses impressively. It depends on how much money you want to make you know? Do you want to go around and lay on guys? How many people are beating down the door to see any of those guys fight again. And actually the response that Jon Fitch has had is awesome. I’m glad that that many people are behind him and support him. That’s not a bad thing, you know? Good for him. But I can tell you this, Jon Fitch isn’t cheap. So good. You know, Viacom MMA has some money. So he can go out there right now. He can go out on the free market and find out exactly what he’s worth, right?”
– On the problem being that guys like Dan Hardy and Leonard Garcia are kept while Fitch is cut: “No that’s not true, so here is the question. Look at any sport, anybody who owns a team, or a league, or anything like that. When you look at your roster – here is another fact, we have 470 something guys under contract. We have over a hundred guys too many. We have over a hundred guys too many on the roster right now. So what’s going to happen is, if you lose – the blood has not been all spilled yet. There’s more coming.”
– On complaints people have with the way UFC does business: “Anything that you don’t like, any decision that you don’t like that is wrong and stupid – it’s me. Blame me. Don’t blame Joe Silva, don’t blame anybody else. Blame me.”
– On who or what he blames for having too many fighters under contract: “First and foremost when you get in here people are like ‘Oh, they’re going to start kicking real guys out for the women and stuff.’ No what has happened – again contrary to popular belief – we’re good guys. Guys lose some fights and we keep them. You know what? Dan hardy puts it out there all the time. We’re going to keep Dan Hardy. I want to keep Leonard Garcia because the guy has heart and he comes in and fights. Then you get into a situation where you got a lot of guys here you know? I tell the guys from the Ultimate Fighter, every one of you guys are going to fight on the card. You know you get in these situations sometimes. You go on a skid in this business, you gotta go and win some fights and come back. No different than it has ever been since day one of this company, same exact thing. And when we cut a guy that is ranked number nine – the guy is on his way down the ladder, not up the ladder.”
– On how long the rope is for a guy like Urijah Faber: “It could be Saturday, you never know… He’s in one of those situations too, definitely. Saturday could be a bad day for him. We’ve got over a hundred guys (too many). And again, going back to what does a guy do? Does he fight safe> Let me tell you what you better do. You better fight your ass off, make it good and win. That’s what people want to see. People want to see exciting, you know? Unfortunately it sucks. It’d be nice to lay on a guy for three rounds and people would want to buy all your pay-per-views. Welcome to the real world guys, that’s not how it works.”
– Can you really say that Fitch is on the way down when he’s only lost to two top-5 guys? “Well he was ranked number one, fought for the title and now they’ve got him ranked number nine…. He fought to a draw with B.J. Penn, got knocked out by Hendricks and that division is a nasty division. In this tournament we’re doing up in Montreal, you look at this thing and go, ‘Wow these guys are definitely the best guys right now.’ Where does Jon Fitch fit into that? Nine is probably correct.”
– But he still hasn’t lost back-to-back fights: “Well he didn’t lose back to back fights. He had draw, then a loss right? Then a win, then a loss. He got Fight of The Night because it takes two guys to do that right? If Erick Silva’s wrestling wasn’t right there, that wouldn’t have been Fight of The Night. You understand what I’m saying? And at the end of the day, you really break it down, you’re like, ‘Well he hasn’t lost back-to-back.’ Who has Erick Silva beat? This was Erick Silva’s first big real fight and real test. And it was a damn good fight, Fight of The Night. That’s called a skid. He’s on the downside, he’s not on the upside. He’s not knocking guys off and buzzsawing through guys. He’s not doing a Hendricks. He’s not doing it like some other guys in that division. And he had a draw before that.”
– On why the UFC has had so many significant events in Anaheim: “Southern California man. This place has always been a hot bed. Love the Honda Center, these guys always treat us great. And we always do well here. We always do really well here.”
– On Johny Hendricks not getting the title shot vs GSP: “If he wins, he’ll get the next title shot.”
– Will the new ‘Official UFC Rankings’ to be the next thing that everyone tries to beat you up about this year? “Well yeah, no doubt about it. But I’ve explained a zillion times what we’ve done with the rankings. This country, as you begin to get more mainstream, that’s what they live and die by. ‘Who’s number one, who’s number two? Who’s this, who’s that?’ We put together a media poll. The media votes and decides who the rankings are and we put them up as the UFC Rankings you know? Am I going to follow word-by-word the media rankings? No, I’m going to put on fights that people want to see. And there’s going to be situations where I get into a position where my champion who has been an absolute stud for us and has done anything we’ve ever asked of him, calls me up and says, ‘I want Diaz.’ You going to tell him no, you’re fighting Johnny Hendricks? No, I’m not going to tell him no. You want Diaz, you’ll get Diaz. And trust me when I tell you, people want to see that fight.”
– On possibility of Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman on July 4th weekend: “That’s what we want, but no we don’t have it yet. We’ve been talking to Anderson, but it’s not done. We’ll get it done.”
– On if the UFC is a sport, entertainment or a business: “What exactly does that mean? It’s different, it’s not football or basketball. We’re talking about combat sports. So you have either this or boxing to compare it to. And if you look at boxing, you have twenty different rankings and guys are all over the place. And it doesn’t mean that just because a guy is ranked number nine – this isn’t a guy that was on his way up. He’s like going up like a missile and we’re like ‘That’s it. He’s at number three, cut that guy. He’s making too much money.’ The guy is on a skid whether you want to admit it. You want to look at his record or however you want to do it, a skid is a skid. A draw, two losses, and a win. And the win is over a kid who hasn’t fought anybody.”
– On other guys being on skids and not getting cut: “But I did just say that. I said first and foremost, don’t ever think this isn’t a business because it is, number one. Number two, Jon Fitch makes a lot of money AND he’s on a skid. He’s on his way down. I don’t care if he’s ranked number nine in the world or not. It doesn’t mean that he’s going to stay around here. There’s a hundred more guys that gotta go. Did you hear that? So it’s not over. Some of the names that are thrown up there – Che Mills, super nice guy, I like Che Mills. Che Mills showed me that night that he does not want it. And I go back to Bobby Green. Bobby Green fought Jacob Volkmann. Bobby Green did not quit in that fight. Referee screwed him big time, right when he gets top position and is doing damage, she stands them up. The kid stayed in there and he fought to the end, and he fought until he won. If you want to stay in this company, that’s how you better fight. That better be what you do. Be Bobby Green man. Those kids that came in that night from Strikeforce were so hungry. They were hungry man, and that’s what I want. I want guys that are hungry. Do I like Jon Fitch, yes. Do I dislike him in any way? No. Do I respect him as a fighter? Yes I do. But (this is) not the biggest tragedy on earth. He will end up somewhere else and if he keeps on winning, he will come back. If he does end up somewhere else, he will become a champion. No one will beat him in any other organization.”
We’ll have live notes and additional coverage from the weigh-ins on Friday and the fights on Saturday, so be sure to follow along on twitter.
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