Some notes from the radio interview:
He talked about how he got interested in the UFC (mentioning fighter John Lewis by name).
He talked about how ‘the old owner’ (Bob Meyrowitz) burned so many bridges and did things the wrong way. White claimed UFC was supposed to be a one-time show, but did so well that they ran shows over and over again and the old owners didn’t realize that they were creating a new sport. It was bad to market it as “two men enter the cage, one man leaves.”
When asked about the position of UFC as a sport in America, White said that UFC will never be as big as the NFL but “we’re NASCAR-big now, we’re MLB-big now, we’re NBA-big now.” He said that unlike the NFL, which isn’t popular outside of North America, the UFC product can cross cultural barriers and be global. White made an analogy to someone going to England to watch cricket and not ‘getting it’, but everyone gets UFC.
Dana talked about how UFC PPVs outsell WWE and boxing. He says that the UFC PPV audience comes from both industries. When asked what is more dangerous (MMA or boxing), Dana hesitated at first but stated that 5-6 boxers die a year and that more people die in football (on the high-school level) but nobody complains about that because it’s football.
White claimed that 85% of the fighters in UFC are college-educated and that they include guys who were Olympic wrestlers and went into martial arts (which he stressed required money). He said the fighters are good human beings and once again brought up the Haystacks Calhoun comparison to Matt Hughes (one’s fictional, one’s real). “Reality is better than anything you can write.”
He said that the blueprint of UFC was based on the business of boxing and what not to do. White said that Don King and Bob Arum destroyed boxing and that nobody in boxing has done anything to secure the future of the sport. He stressed that UFC is ran like a real business.
When asked by Jim Rome how he was able to build UFC into an empire with no college degree and no formal business training, White responded by saying “I know fighting” and “I know what fight fans want to see.” When pressed to give an example of where boxing has gone wrong, he brought up the De La Hoya/Mayweather event on May 5th. White said that seats were $2,500 USD a piece and the PPV cost $55 or $60. He said that Oscar De La Hoya has many fighters under contract (like Shane Mosley), but chose not to put the best fights on a single card and stack the line-up. White juxtaposed UFC events in comparison to boxing by stating that he builds entire cards that fans want to see and that when prelims start at 5:15 PM, 75% of the fans are already at the build ready to watch.
Dana shyfully thought that Rampage/Liddell lived up to the hype and made the claim that Chuck Liddell is the best or one of the best MMA fighters in the world. White said that he is still in shock that Chuck got knocked out, and he also deflected criticism of Chuck staying out late at night before fights by stating that Liddell has always done that and “gotten up at 3 or 4 PM in the afternoon the next day.” White also stressed that his intention is to book Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, claiming that “it will probably be the biggest fight in MMA history.”