LAS VEGAS - UFC president Dana White held his annual Fan Expo question-and-answer session with the fans on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. As usual, the event was a mix of the serious, the less serious, and the absurd, ranging from detailed questions about the company's business to painful-to-watch attempts at business pitches.
One thing the UFC boss did indicate, however, is that he could very well by on the same wavelength as the fans who want the much-discussed potential Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz megafight.
"Him and Nick Diaz want to fight each other," White said. "And I think people what to see that fight. So we'll see what happens."
Silva, the former longtime middleweight champion, is recovering from a broken leg suffered at UFC 168 against Chris Weidman. Diaz, meanwhile, has been holding out for more than a year in search of what he considers the right opponent and payday. Silva is one of the few fighters who fits the bill.
White said Silva is well on his way to a return.
"He's great," White said. He's recovered, he's training, hopefully, he's going to be back at the end of this year, the beginning of next."
Likewise, White went a few rounds with a Vancouver-area fan who questioned whether declining gates in the city meant there would be fewer shows.
White also fielded questions about Fight Pass and growing concerns the company's event schedule was becoming oversaturated. White said the company is filling the void that used to be filled by companies that have gone out of business, then went on to say that live Fight Pass events are geared towards other markets, not the U.S.
"There used to be a ton of organizations that had a lot of guys coming up," White said. "We're the ones generating the new talent. In the last four weeks we put on six events. If you take six events, 13-14 fights per event, all those guys got experience, got paid, built their records, and 60,000 people attended live.
"The people here in the United States, I know people come to this from all over the world, but, we get events all the time here in the United States," White continued. "People in New Zealand don't get to go to events all the time. People in Australia don't, people in China don't. And they're starving for it. I got so much response from people in New Zealand who watched the events for the first time."
Among other notable moments:
*A boy who appeared to be about five years old asked White to please bring back Chael Sonnen, which got a huge cheer from the crowd. Later, when White asked a four-year-old girl who was her favorite fighter, she answered "Chael Sonnen," to another big cheer.
*White fielded questions from Canadian fans who weren't happy with the Jon Jones-Alexander Gustafsson rematch being placed in Las Vegas instead of Toronto. White said a Sept. 27 card in Toronto was never officially announced, and noted that the first Jones-Gustafsson bout, which was held last year in Toronto, failed to sell out the Air Canada Centre.
*A Vancouver fan engaged White on declining gates in his hometown, with the most recent event being UFC 174 last month. White noted the UFC had been to nearby Seattle three times before heading back to Vancouver, and that the company has done a gate over $1 million each time they've been in town. "We did a million dollars. When does a million dollars suck?"
*White shot down an internet rumor that announcer Joe Rogan would fight on an upcoming UFC card.
*When asked about the possibility about a potential third Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate, White was negative, noting it's rare to make a third fight when one fighter took the first two in a convincing manner.
*A fan from the Philippines was told the company came close to holding an event in his homeland, but the deal fell through at the last minute. He termed Asian expansion "A hardcore focus over the next 3-4 years."
*Asked about Scott Coker taking over the reins at Bellator, White spoke well of his former employee. White said he was not a fan of Bjorn Rebney, whom he called "a bad guy," and added "I have no problems with Scott Coker. He's a good guy, a standup guy."
*Among the business pitches from the audience, an announcer from Canada asked for the UFC to start "an Ultimate Fighter for announcers. White responded "I don't know how exciting that show would be."
*On negotiations with Gina Carano: "Gina Carano has a Hollywood lawyer. That's hard to deal with. But we've been through worse."
*Asked about whether Georges St-Pierre would get an immediate shot against Johny Hendricks if he returned, White pointed out that the division moves fast, and the GSP's ACL injury will keep him out quite some time. He added "We'll see what he wants to do. I'm confident GSP will be back.