Dana White: The man, the sport, and the money
Former street tough Dana White rescued the Ultimate Fighting Championship and transformed the mixed martial arts organization into the hottest sport in America. Get out of his way because he's not stopping now. And besides, you just might get hurt.
Most corporate titans don't look like this. It's hard to picture Donald Trump rolling into a shareholder meeting sporting a fresh shiner from one of his employees. And you definitely won't see Warren Buffett tossing up 300 pounds on the bench press. Thirty-eight-year-old Ultimate Fighting Championship(UFC) president Dana White may now have the boardroom cred of other business bigwigs, but with his round-shouldered build and two faint but permanent red lines along the edges of his nose (courtesy of a sparring partner), he mostly resembles just another fighter. And that's perfectly fine with him.
Indeed, White's tenure as the guiding force behind the rise of the UFC as the newest "fastest-growing sport in America" is best described as a knock-down, drag-out brawl in which he's now the undisputed champion. Nearly worthless and tainted by controversy less than a decade ago (the sport was not sanctioned by most states), White has helped elevate mixed martial arts (MMA) into the mainstream and transformed the UFC, the first MMA organization, into the biggest—and most surprising—success story in sports.
Acquired in 2001 for $2 million by White and other investors, the UFC now fills arenas in North America and Europe, produces a hit cable series (Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter) and has smashed the all-time pay-per-view record. In 2006, the UFC generated more than $200 million in pay-per-view revenue, outperforming boxing and pro wrestling. Last year, Time magazine estimated the UFC's value to be over $1 billion.
MMA Quick Quote: Tom Atencio walks the walk, Dana White talks the talk
“I want to thank Prize Fight as well as Fight Force for putting on this card. I’ve been seen in front of the cameras before as far as the business side, but it’s time to fight. I’m doing something Dana White won’t do and that’s fight. He talks like a fighter, so why doesn’t he fight? I’m stepping up to the plate and win, lose or draw I attempted it. I don’t ever think he would fight.”
– Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio takes a rare stab at his UFC counterpart, Dana White, during the press conference to promote his upcoming welterweight fight against Randy Hedderick at “Ultimate Chaos,” which is scheduled for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss., on June 27. This will not be the first time that the 42-year-old steps into the ring — Atencio made his mixed martial arts debut back in 2005 and has competed sporadically ever since. He currently runs Affliction MMA, staging two major pay-per-view (PPV) events within the last year. During that time White — who was at one time an aspiring boxer — has been vocal about the “t-shirt” guys wasting gobs of money and running a poor operation. Atencio, for the most part, has bit his lip … until now.
Fedor vs. Barnett Possible For August
According to a Russian MMA news site, the long-rumored matchup of WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett for the title may finally happen (again) in August. A loose translation suggests it will be at the 3rd M-1 Global/Affliction event planned for early August.
Jason MacDonald Cut From UFC
Apparently when Dana White says UFC needs more guys like you, it doesn't necessarily mean UFC needs you. Such is the case with UFC veteran Jason MacDonald, who despite being the subject of said praise from Dana has been released from the promotion.
10 Great Freak Matches: Part 1
Here’s something wonderful about disavowing any responsibility to your fellow man: You can throw any two people in a ring, instruct them to smack each other in the head until one falls down and then count the gate receipts. (Toughman’s Art Dore -- your patron saint.)
JORGE GURGEL VS. CONOR HEUN STRIKEFORCE JUNE 19
A lightweight contest has been added to the upcoming Strikeforce ShoMMA event set for June 19 in Kent, Washington as submission specialist, Conor Heun, returns to action against former UFC fighter, Jorge Gurgel, in a bout that will in all likelihood wind up on the main card for the televised event.
Trainer John Hackleman: Chuck Liddell has "more than one fight left in him"
Dana White's message to Chuck Liddell was clear before UFC 97: Don't just win, but bring it again. Following "The Iceman's" first-round TKO loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, White was adamant that one of the most storied and famous careers in mixed martial arts has ended.
Or has it?
John Hackleman, Liddell's longtime trainer and close friend, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) – with confidence – that Liddell isn't done yet. Liddell has one more fight on his UFC contract, but Hackleman hinted that the fighter would explore competing elsewhere if White keeps the door closed.
Sengoku Gets TUF with "Project: Gold Rush"
At a press conference yesterday, World Victory Road announced that Sengoku is currently developing "Project Gold Rush," a new Ultimate Fighter-style portion of their SENGOKU-G TV series which will see new and debuting fighters from gyms like GRABAKA, Yoshida Dojo and PANCRASEism competing for spots on the Sengoku roster.
(Although, unlike the mother of all MMA reality shows, "P:GR" will presumably focus more on the prospects' training and less on bodily fluids / beverage hurling.)
There will be 4-5 fighters from each gym spread across the bantamweight (60kg / 132 lbs), featherweight (65kg / 143 lbs) and lightweight (70kg / 154 lbs) divisions. Beginning later this month.
Liborio named National Coach for USA Grappling
USA Wrestling is excited to announce a new alliance to provide leadership for USA Grappling, its national program in the sport of Grappling.
International respected coach Ricardo Liborio of Coconut Creek, Fla. has been named the National Coach for USA Grappling.
“Ricardo Liborio brings credibility to our Grappling program,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. “We are confident that we will not only sustain our competitive excellence but will take it to a new level with Ricardo on our team. USA Wrestling is committed to maintaining our dominant position in international Grappling.”
(Over?)Analyzing Omigawa: A Success Story for Japanese MMA
Four years ago, I was in an MMA pick 'em pool with four acquaintances. UFC and Pride cards, $20 buy-in, points for winner-method-round, and the total points winner took the pot.
It was May 2005, and Pride's Bushido 7 was on the slate. I could already feel the 100 bones making the act of sitting down near impossible, almost Costanza-like. Being a massive MMA nerd and with Dream Stage Entertainment having retooled the Bushido program to heavily feature lightweights and homegrown talents, I figured I had a natural leg-up on my pool contemporaries who didn't feel the need to maniacally obsess over the sport.
Naturally, I lost the Pride Bushido 7 pool. Actually, I didn't "lose" per se; I came in second place, by one point -- a fate infinitely more excruciating.
Within the pick 'em pool, I was the only person who took the debuting Michihiro Omigawa over Aaron Riley. None too surprisingly either. I still consider it one of the worst fight picks I've ever made (maybe this is a column idea in and of itself), not just because of the fact that it robbed me of $100 but because it's as classic an example of overanalysis as you can get.
Here was my idiotic rationale, as best I can recall: Omigawa's debut was coming on the heels of his teammate Makoto Takimoto getting a generous decision over sumo Henry "Sentoryu" Miller on New Year's Eve. As another pupil of Hidehiko Yoshida, one of DSE's few major domestic stars whom they wanted to keep happy, I expected Omigawa to be given considerable latitude for the officials. I anticipated that he would avoid mucking about on the feet with Riley, a battle-hardened brawler, and instead would quickly get some takedowns, at which point he would attempt to smother him with his gi and be given a gift decision by the judges due to the politics of the fight game.
Anyone with a scintilla of common sense would've looked at the fact that Omigawa was a debuting judoka and that Riley was one of the sport's toughest customers, then would’ve commented it was a good thing Omigawa brought his pajamas with him: He was going to be put to bed -- which he was at six minutes even of the first round.
However, with his recent underdog run halfway through Sengoku's featherweight grand prix, Omigawa now strikes different thoughts in my head.
Renzo Gracie: Don’t sleep on Matt Serra
People take Matt Serra lightly … In our sport things don’t happen by chance. Luck has nothing to do with it … He’s one of the best fighters I have ever seen in my life. He has huge heart, never quits, he can win a fight at any moment. His jiu-jitsu is unbelievable and his punching power is very strong. He’s a guy that can always surprise someone. It will be a very action-packed fight. I can’t wait to watch.
Frank Mir: ''I Would Like To Coach Brock''
Frank Mir is not bothered much by Brock Lesnar’s trash talk. The UFC heavyweight champion is just a garden variety bully, he says.
“It’s like when you go to school and you’re not comfortable with yourself, you tend to pick on other people to take the attention away from yourself,” the interim UFC heavyweight champion told MMAWeekly.com.
Lesnar challenged the validity of Mir’s belt, and the rescheduling of their second bout from UFC 98 to UFC 100 in an interview with Inside MMA.
“In my mind, is it, is Frank really hurt, or is he scared?” Lesnar told Ron Kruck.
UFC Looking at Entering the Magazine Market?
As MMA has seen an explosion in popularity one of the market segments that has been lifted with this tide has been the MMA magazine industry. The magazine publishing field as a whole is seeing a general weeding out of titles (once popular titles like Blender are being shuttered), MMA-specific titles like Fight! Magazine are reaching new sales heights, while other titles like Fighters Only are expanding into the US and new titles like MMA Cage are being planned and launched. With the newsstands bulging with MMA material, the 800lb gorilla may be making their move to enter the market.