Dana White has been out of the loop for the past couple of weeks after battling an inner-ear problem known as Meniere’s Disease, but he’s back for this weekend’s big fights at UFC 146 and Ariel Helwani managed to grab a word with him to find out his thoughts on a number of the big talking points in MMA at the moment.
Below you’ll find our keynotes from their conversation, plus scroll down to watch the full video for yourselves courtesy of MMAfighting.
– The UFC are currently trying out a new pre-fight press conference format with Jon Anik leading Q&A sessions with the fighters on stage along with taking questions from the media. White says he likes it and it worked well for the Jones Vs Evans event, though he admits he didn’t see yesterday’s one and heard some “bitching” about it from the fans and media.
As for the fact that he didn’t make an appearance himself, he says he’s been very busy and there’s a lot going on at the moment.
“It’s been a sh*tty month here at the UFC,” White admits.
He confirms the new presser format isn’t neccessarily the way they are going to continue to do things, it’s just an experiment and if people don’t like it then they’ll make changes.
– Discussing his own battle with an inner-ear problem known as Meniere’s Disease which he was recently diagnosed with, White reveals that he was supposed to go in for surgery to help alleviate it, but his doctor refused to do it as he felt he could treat it in other ways instead.
The problem with that is the alternative treatment only has a 50% success rate and with White’s hectic globe-trotting schedule he doesn’t want the risk that he’ll have more episodes with the disease in the future so he’s still battling with his doctor to get the surgery.
White’s confident he will get the surgery, it’s just a matter of when, but it comes with problems as for one thing it’s not a guaranteed cure either. The process would cut a nerve dealing with equilibrium so it would entail him having to re-learn how to walk and regain his depth perception so it’s not something you can just schedule in for any day of the week.
– White didn’t attend ‘UFC On Fuel 3’ due to his illness – the first event he’s missed during his long run as the head of the UFC, and it’s something he’s not proud of. He says he had planned to go, but was just to ill, and in fact didn’t start to feel like himself again until just a couple of days ago.
He liked sitting at home watching the fights from a fans perspective and “terrorizing” the Zuffa staff with his suggestions of how to improve the show such as broadcasting the fighter walk-ins.
– White recently hinted that he might retire from his position in the UFC at the end their current deal with FOX (don’t panic, the FOX deal is seven years long!). in this interview he confirms that it’s “what’s on my mind”, though it seems to be dependant on him reaching the goals he has planned for that period of time in terms of the sport’s growth around the world.
– There’s more interesting stuff from the UFC president when he discusses a recent video blog he put out blasting the media for criticizing the ratings the promotion has been producing for it’s big shows on FOX and FX.
He believes he wasn’t too harsh and suggests there’s more going on behind the scenes than people’s realize and that journalist Dave Meltzer who received the most criticism from him was wrong to start asking questions in an article such as whether MMA was a fad and is in danger of being taken of FOX.
“Without getting into all the bullsh*t, there’s a war going on here right now. There’s a war a-brewing, and people are out there pushing buttons and people are out there firing missiles over here.”
It’s somewhat of a cryptic message, but later he maybe gives an insight into what he means when he questions where people are getting all these numbers from and says it’s only happened since they left Spike TV. That would suggest that the “war” he’s referring to might be with Viacom who own Spike TV and are going to start airing the Bellator Fighting Championships on the station in 2013 as a direct competitor to the UFC.
– The UFC’s heavyweight division has not always been the deepest in the sport, but White always envisaged that they’d get to this stage where they were able to field a full main card full of the heavyweight’s.
– White believes Junior Dos Santos can hold onto the heavyweight title for a long time, but acknowledges that you can’t rule out Frank Mir who’s won before when he’s been counted out and has both KO power and dangerous submissions.
– As much as he admires JDS’s skills he questions his claims that he’d be able to beat the Klitschko brothers in the boxing ring, believing that while they have a boring style to watch it has been proven to be tremendously successful and “people don’t beat them.”
– Strikeforce crowned Daniel Cormier as their heavyweight grand-prix winner last weekend and while he’s still got one fight left over there he will be coming to the UFC after that, and White doesn’t rule out the possbility that he could fight for the title when he does make the switch, though he suggests that Cormier would be better as a 205lber.
– Who is next for the winner of tomorrow night’s JDS Vs Mir fight? White admits he doesn’t know the answer to that question yet.
– While White is not a fan of the physical appearance of both Roy Nelson and Dave Herman, he’s willing to overlook that since both guys always come to fight.
– Dana has talked to Jon Jones about his DUI charge at the weekend, and he still feels he’s “a good kid” and that though this is a bad situation it’s going to end up being a positive thing for him as it’ll have been a lesson learned.
White does see this as another reason why Jones isn’t the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world yet however, noting how Anderson Silva has been at the top of the sport for a long time yet has also kept out of trouble out of the cage too.
He’s not too clear on the ins and outs of Jones legal case against the charge, but he is able to confirm he will still fight Dan Henderson in September.
– White confirms that the UFC are looking at how they can conduct further drug testing within the organization to try to stamp out PED use which they feel is harmful to the sport and bad for the longevity of fighter’s careers.
– The UFC president is “bummed out” about Nick Diaz’s one year suspension, lamenting the fact that he won’t be fighting GSP as they had originally planned when he signed from Strikeforce, but he accepts the ruling since smoking marijuana was against the rules.
– Finally, Dana is still angry with Alistair Overeem after he failed a drugs test and was also suspended for nine months. He says the fighter lied to him, assuring him that he wasn’t taking any illegal drugs, and so he’s not dealing with him – that’s UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta’s job now.