Backstage following UFC 133: Evans Vs Ortiz in Philly, UFC president Dana White took time to talk to MMAfighting’s Ariel Helwani about all the big talking points emerging both from the event itself, and MMA in general over the last few days.
Check out the keynotes below and scroll down to watch the video for yourself.
– Dana starts off the interview by admitting that he was “horrified” by the micro fight trunks sported by Dennis Hallman in his main card bout. He then confirmed he gave his opponent Brian Ebersole a $70,000 “Holy sh!t, thanks for getting those trunks off the TV as soon as possible” bonus award.
The UFC president is legitimately pissed that the backroom staff allowed Hallman to fight in that attire and says that wearing trunks like that is now banned. “Those shorts crossed the line…it was borderline disgusting.” Despite his annoyance White says he wouldn’t cut Hallman over the incident – he’d only do so based on his performance.
– Beyond his head kick KO over Sean Salmon, Dana believes that this is the best Rashad Evans has looked in the Octagon. He notes that he looked good both physically, but also in his all-round performance and credits him for not showing any signs of ring rust despite his 14 month absence.
– Despite the boos that Evans got last night White doesn’t believe that he’ll always be a figure that’s disliked, stating, “I think that’s going to change,” and adding, “It’s kind of hard not to like Rashad Evans now, it’s hard not to respect him after what he did tonight.”
– The UFC president credits Tito Ortiz for having good jiu-jitsu and believes he almost had Evans in real danger when he caught him in a guillotine choke.
– White points out that if he hated Ortiz he could have cut him instead of granting him one last fight against Ryan Bader and no one would have questioned the decision. Instead he granted him that fight and Ortiz has made the most of the opportunity.
– Looking forward to Evans taking on the winner of Jon Jones Vs ‘Rampage’ Jackson, White feels that’s a win-win situation for the UFC given that Evans has a genuine rivarly with both men.
– White agrees with the assessment that Vitor Belfort still needs more fights before he can fight for the title once again despite a good showing at UFC 133. He notes that if Belfort’s original fight with Silva had been a back and forth war it would have been easier to grant him an early rematch, but as it stands, “Vitor’s got some work to do.”
– Dana appears reluctant to cut Yoshihiro Akiyama despite his KO loss – his third defeat in a row in the UFC. He says that in the past he’s begged the Japanese fighter to compete at 170lbs, so that could still be a possibility.
– Rory MacDonald is singled out for praise from the UFC’s main man. “This kid’s very impressive and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do in the future,” white said of the 22 year-old’s display against Mike Pyle.
– Noting Bernard Hopkins u-turn this week, going from being an MMA detractor to a fan, White says that it’s impossible not to be a fan of the sport once you give it a chance.
– Moving on, White confesses that he loves to “stick it to the Fedor fans because they are such lunatics man, they go crazy and they flip out.” However, he claims he doesn’t dislike Fedor, but says his frustration lies with people claiming he was the best when he didn’t come to the UFC and fight the best.
He says that the UFC made Fedor “a crazy offer” a few years ago to prove that he was the best in the world, and he declined. Talking directly to the camera to “the crazy Russians” he then added that if they did genuinely turn down the offer due to the UFC’s refusal to accept a co-promotion deal then they “destroyed” Fedor’s chance to prove he was the best.
White’s frustration with the whole situation is clear to see as he once again talks about giving Fedor’s management everything they were asking for and still have them turn the deal down. If they had accepted it then Fedor would have come in and fought Brock Lesnar, the champion at the time, straight away.
Despite being fired up White won’t reveal what the exact details of the deal, but describes it as a “ridiculous offer.”