Below you’ll find the keynotes from Dana White’s customary UFC 144 pre-event interview with Ariel Helwani.
Also, scroll down to watch the full interview for yourselves thanks to MMAfighting.com.
– Dana loves Japan and thinks it’s a cool place to come and visit. He also likes how organized and efficiency the people are here.
– Asked why it took so long to come back to Japan, White says they had to focus on building the business in the U.S first and then ventured out to countries like the UK where there were less obstacles to doing business than there are in this neck of the woods.
– White claims the event will be a 22,000 seat sell-out a the Saitama Super Arena (though it should be noted that the arena can host, and has done in the past over 50,000 fans…but that was never planned for when the UFC arrived).
– The UFC president acknowledges that since the death of PRIDE in Japan there has been a dip in the number of people who are following MMA closely, but just like in the U.S he feels that as they get more exposed to it again then it will grow and get better television deals, etc.
– White briefly switches over to the situation in the UK and says he’s going to keep fighting to get the best television deal he can for the region, but acknowledges that it’s not easy to do so.
– He doesn’t believe the UFC ‘dropped the ball’ by not including more former PRIDE fighters on the card. He says that’s not how they operate. As with any other international event they have included a number of local fighters on the fight card, but they had no intention of attempting to recreate a bygone era and are always going to focus on bringing fans the best talent they have at this moment in time.
– Though he admits Frankie Edgar isn’t yet one of the ‘huge superstars’ of the sport, White does believe that people do respect the lightweight champion, particularly after his last fight with Gray Maynard.
– The UFC had tried to get ‘Rampage’ Jackson to fight Ryan Bader on a recent ‘UFC On FOX’ show, but the former champion insisted that he wanted to fight in Japan.
– Dana has been asking Yoshihiro Akiyama to move down to 170lbs since the first day he joined the UFC, but it’s taken a long time to finally convince him.
– The Culinary Union are trying to lobby for an ‘MMA Bill Of Rights’, but White is not interested in what they have to say, pointing out that this is all part of a long-running campaign to try to attack the Fertitta brothers due to a dispute they have with the way they operate their casino business.
– Talks with Carlos Condit about whether he’ll fight again before facing GSP or not should take place this weekend as the interim welterweight champ is in Japan for the event.
– Nate Marquardt’s manager MC Hammer tried to broker a deal with Dana White to get him back in the UFC soon after he was fired from the promotion, but it was turned down. Zuffa have now relented and let him sign for Strikeforce however.
– He doesn’t appreciate Floyd Mayweather’s manager getting involved in a recent war of words between the two and tells him in no uncertain terms to “shut up.”