UFC President Dana White spoke with MMAfighting’s Ariel Helwani yesterday about all the big talking points leading up to UFC 167 on Saturday night, and you can read our full keynotes below and scroll down to watch the full interview for yourselves.
– White says the focus of this event, their 20th anniversary show has been the legends of the sport from it’s early days. He says many of the big stars from back then will be in attendance on Saturday night and he’s going to put on a “bad-ass experience” for them, though Bob Marowitz, the co-creator of the UFC, won’t be able to make it which is a dissapoinment for White.
– It doesn’t sound like he’s going to do anything special during the actual fights though like bring in the legends to the cage, etc. He says he’s learned over the years to just put on the fights without any interruptions.
– There’s been some talk of GSP “pass the torch” to Rory MacDonald, but White says that MacDonald has yet to prove that he’s the fighter who can be a world champion.
– As for the rumors that GSP could retire on Saturday night, White claims not to have heard about it, but notes that GSP himself hasn’t given any indication that’s the case. He does say a little later that if anyone has the bank account to be able to retire then it’s GSP.
– GSP has hinted in the recent past that he has “big plans” that he hasn’t shared yet, but might do after the fights on Saturday night. Again, White is adamant that he has no clue what that could be.
– White claims that Nevada State Athletic Commission head Keith Kiezer is “always doing things to tarnish the sport of mixed martial arts”, but he claims not to know the reason why that is the case.
– Most of the questions posed to Chael Sonnen in recent days have been about his forthcoming stint on TUF: Brazil opposite Wanderlei Silva and the fact that he’s juggling so many different responsibilities heading into his fight on Saturday night. There’s not been a whole lot of questions about his fight with Rashad Evans in just a few days time though, and White feels that’s a reflection of how Evans’ stock has dropped in recent times to the point where he’s being overlooked.
Having said that, he still feels Evans can get back to the top and hopes that claims that he is now remotivated are true.
– He thinks that Rory MacDonald Vs Robbie Lawler is the perfect fight for both men at this stage in their careers.
– Cain Velasquez is currently doing a media tour down in Mexico. The champ is currently starting rehab his shoulder, but there’s no indication of when he might be fully recovered yet.
As for his rumored fight with Fabricio Werdum, White hints that it’s quite possible that the Brazilian will have to take another bout while waiting for Velasquez to heal up.
– White is convinced that Anthony Pettis is definitely going to need surgery on the torn PCL knee ligament he’s been suffering from recently.
That means it’s highly likely that Josh Thomson will have to take on another fight in the mean time too.
– Miesha Tate beat Ronda Rousey in a recent fan vote to determine who’ll appear on the cover of the EA Sports UFC video game and White seems happy enough about it, saying that the woman’s division now seems to have two stars rather than just one.
– It sounds as if the UFC is interested in signing up Dan Henderson to a new deal.
– Dana absolutely agrees that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva played a major role in getting the UFC to where it is today. He says he is the first person he went after when they bought the company.