Dana White in the Boston Herald
01-29-2007 07:20 PM
Dana White in the Boston Herald
This has some good stuff about UFC on ESPN. Dana also has some funny comments about Crocop. He says Rampage will probably fight Chuck in June and Crocop will probably fight Sylvia after Sanchez. Most importantly, read his comments at the end about new talent.
BostonHerald.com - Ultimate Fighting
UFC might be in ESPN’s picture
By Herald staff
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Picture this: You’re watching your nightly dose of “SportsCenter” and the Top 10 plays are ticking down:
# No. 3: Another dunk that looks slightly better than the dunk that logged in at No. 5.
# No. 2: Another home run that looked a lot like the one that left the park at No. 6.
# No. 1: Chuck Liddell pounding unmercifully on some poor guy’s face before the ref finally pulls him off.
That’s right. ESPN may soon hop on the UFC bandwagon.
“All the top meetings over there are about the UFC,” said UFC president Dana White, who is flying to New York soon for meetings with the network. “When they start talking about this stuff on ‘SportsCenter,’ that’s really going to help us. That’s going to help us get to the next level.”
The next level, of course, is the mainstream sports world. For all the ratings, recognition, coverage and popularity the UFC has enjoyed the last couple of years, that mainstream sports world is still a ways away, according to White.
“That’s the beauty of the business,” White said. “We’re the biggest thing on pay per view. We’re bigger than boxing. We’re bigger than WWE. But we’re so (expletive) far from mainstream. Mainstream is Shaquille O’Neal. If Shaq is walking down the street, everyone knows who he is.
“The weird thing about this is Chuck Liddell is one of the biggest superstars in other places. We went to Ibiza, Spain, and he’s getting mobbed there. We couldn’t go anywhere. He goes to New York and people are all over him. I mean, it’s tough to miss a guy with a Mohawk and Chinese writing on his head. They might recognize him, but they don’t immediately know the UFC.”
Then again, not many knew the UFC just a mere few years ago. Now, fights like the Dec. 30 Liddell-Tito Ortiz card is drawing attention everywhere, and making giants like HBO and ESPN stand up and notice.
“That fight was a huge moment for us,” White said. “It was a big turning point in the pay-per-view industry. But the funny thing is I say that every time we have a fight. We just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
White thinks the UFC will soon be able to consistently stage upward of three fight cards per month. With HBO soon to be in the picture -- televising live fights as Spike TV already does -- and with the huge pay-per-view interest, there will be a lot of demand for fights. With that many fights, you need fighters. To that end, White and his crew have been working to bulk up on the talent. The UFC already has a talent relations department, and that’s only going to grow.
“Going out and acquiring guys is huge,” White said. “I’ve got guys in here making more money than NBA players. The talented, athletic people out there are going to start coming out and doing this.”
UFC 67, set for Feb. 3 in Vegas, will feature two such talented, athletic fighters. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Croatian Mirko Cro Cop will each make their UFC debut be on the undercard of the Travis Lutter-Anderson Silva match.
Rampage’s reputation precedes him. He is an exciting, charismatic, popular figure. You’ll probably see him fight twice and then take on light heavyweight champ Liddell for the title in June. Cro Cop, meanwhile, was the 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix champ while fighting for the Pride organization. He takes on Eddie Sanchez Saturday and then will probably find himself head-to-head with heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia right after that.
“Wait till you see Cro Cop, he’s a straight killer,” White said of the 6-foot-2, 220-pound 32-year-old. “Never in your life will you go to a fight live and see or hear what it sounds like when he kicks people. When he kicks to an opponent’s body, it immediately turns black and blue. It’s like getting hit with a baseball bat.
“He fought this guy in Japan (while with Pride), and every time he kicked him, you just heard this crack, like when you’re at a baseball game and there’s a real, nice home run. That’s what it sounds like when he kicks a guy. They instantly turn black and blue.”
Place to be
Rampage’s contract was acquired when the UFC bought a smaller organization, the WFA. Cro Cop’s contract with Pride expired and the UFC was where he wanted to be next.
“I talked to his manager. It was simple. He wanted to be with us,” White said. “Pride is our big competition and I’m out there trying to lock up their big talent as soon as their contracts with them are over. I want them in the UFC.”
With the media attention and exposure on the rise, and with the biggest names gravitating toward the sport, it can only get better for mixed martial arts fans.
“Over the next couple of months, you’re going to see us starting to grab up everybody,” White said. “We’re aggressive anyway. But as this thing becomes more successful, we want the power and leverage to take over different parts of the world.”
01-30-2007 12:47 PM
Maybe UFC will get Shogun, Arona, Silva, and hopefully (eventually) Fedor...
“Pride is our big competition and I’m out there trying to lock up their big talent as soon as their contracts with them are over. I want them in the UFC.”
01-30-2007 02:57 PM
Nice post Beo. Sounds like he has big plans. 3 shows per month would be a lot. They don't have the talent for the level of shows that have now either.
01-30-2007 04:57 PM
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