CHICAGO – One would be hard-pressed to find someone as passionate about MMA as Dana White. But the UFC president’s original passion was boxing.

On Thursday, White’s love of that sport gets a public unveiling with the premiere of “The Fighters,” a new reality series on Discovery Channel produced by White and Craig Piligian, one of the longtime producers of UFC reality series “The Ultimate Fighter.”

“The Fighters” debuts Thursday at 9 p.m. ET with the first of an eight-episode run. The show will document the lives of amateur boxers from rival gyms in Boston’s “Southie” neighborhood as they train prior to fighting, hoping to build a path toward a pro career.

Following a private media screening of Thursday’s debut episode in Chicago, White discussed his history in boxing and why “The Fighters” is a labor of love for him – with the goal that maybe it could be the spark that reignites the flame for the sport in the city he once called home.

But he also talked about his original hope of becoming a fighter in Boston, a dream he abandoned when he said he came to the realization he might not have what it took to reach the next level.

“All I cared about was boxing,” White said. “It’s all I thought about. I was literally obsessed with it. I quit my job because I wanted to be in the fight business. At one point, I truly believed that I wanted to be a fighter. And then one day, you realize that you’re not that guy. I wasn’t good enough to be a fighter. I didn’t have what it took. Mentally and emotionally, I feel like I wanted it worse than anybody. But then the day comes when you come to reality that you don’t have it.”

And so with that, White turned to training and running his own gyms, then to managing fighters, and the rest, as they say, is history, at least as far as the UFC is concerned.

In the video above, listen to White talk about his background in boxing, quitting a high-paying job to pursue his love of the sport and the time he nearly boxed former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.

White is in Chicago for Saturday’s UFC on FOX 10. For the latest on UFC on FOX 10, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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