There were plenty of topics of conversation to discuss with UFC president Dana White at the UFC 126 pre-fight press conference in Las Vegas, and Ariel Helwani was the man to ask them.
Here’s the keynotes from their chat, and you can scroll down to watch the full video for yourself…
– White dismisses the idea that Vitor Belfort may not be worthy of a title shot yet, saying that he’s a fighter who’s evolved over the years and, “can end a fight at any minute.”
– White guarantees that, despite their cool, calm exterior at the presser, both Silva and Belfort are, “under a tremendous amount of pressure,” due to the magnitude of this fight, particularly in their native Brazil.
He goes on to say that the two fighters don’t like each other, stemming from their past. “They used to train together, there was some bad blood, some things were said about what used to happen in training, and they are both upset about it.”
– Dana says one of his favorite things in all of combat sports is the staredowns, and he claims the one that had just happened between Silva and Belfort was instantly one of the top ten staredowns he’d ever witnessed.
– Asked whether the winner of Jones Vs Bader or Franklin vs Griffin is closer to a 205lb title shot, Dana admits that’s a tough one, but that they would both be in the mix.
– On the difficult times being felt in the Japanese MMA market, White says the decline has been happening for some time. “When PRIDE Didn’t work, it definitely upset the balance over there.”
Despite the doom and gloom White says it’s good that it now means we’re getting to see more of the top Japanese fighters competing in the UFC instead, and he confirms they are hoping to hold an event in Japan this year.
– The UFC president says he’s disappointed by the news that the New York governor has not put MMA in the budget, but that they will continue to push for the sport to be legalized there.
– White continues to raise eyebrows amongst MMA fans with his refusal to stick the boot in to rival promotion Strikeforce’s upcoming heavyweight tournament. “If they come up with this tournament and people are behind it an dig it, then they did the right thing.”
Helwani even gets White to admit (somewhat reluctantly at first) that he will probably be watching Fedor’s fight in the quarter-finals of the tournament next weekend, though not necessarily live.
He did however question whether the tournament will run smoothly given that many of the fighters involved are on non-exclusive contracts.
– In the recent past White seemed to be dismissing the idea of the UFC ever going on HBO, but he seems to be softening his stance following the channel recently losing the rights to boxer Manny Pacquiao’s next fight. He says that HBO are still, “No.1” despite that deal, and appears open to talking with them, though he claims that HBO have not called him.
Watch the full interview below.