NEW YORK – Regardless of how it shapes up over the coming weeks and months, Dana White said the UFC’s return to Boston could be a special card on a number of fronts.
The new FOX Sports 1 cable network will launch on Aug. 17, and as part of that launch, the UFC will move the programming currently on FUEL TV and FX over to that station, including live events.
The centerpiece of the first day of the network will be a live show from Boston, right now dubbed UFC on FOX Sports 1 1 until a headliner is named. The show will take place at TD Garden in Boston.
“FOX has big, crazy plans for that week,” White told a small group of reporters following a Thursday press event for Saturday’s UFC 159 card in Newark, N.J. “The fight’s in Boston, but we’re doing a ton of cool stuff in New York, too. The (New England) Patriots have a game on FOX on Friday, a preseason game. Saturday, the day of the event, the Red Sox play the Yankees. So it’s a pretty cool weekend.”
The UFC most recently was in Boston for the UFC 118 pay-per-view in August 2010, which had a UFC Fan Expo that coincided with it. That card was headlined by a title fight between then-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and former champ B.J. Penn.
White hinted that the potential for a title fight to headline the UFC on FOX Sports 1 debut in Boston is there, but it may be a few weeks before he can announce a main event.
“I haven’t even made the card yet,” he said. “A couple more fights need to happen and we’ll build the card, but I’m telling you – it’s going to be the best television card we’ve ever done.”
The UFC has done free TV cards with title fights, including the heavyweight championship between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX 1. So the UFC president is putting a lot of pressure on the show already four months in advance.
The card may wind up taking on some extra meaning, though, for White and potentially many other fighters on the card and in the UFC. A Boston native, White reiterated Thursday just how upset the recent Boston Marathon terrorist bombings had left him.
White said he plans to visit the city after UFC 159, and he, the UFC and FOX are helping the recovery efforts financially, as well.
“This thing in Boston for me, it’s just really personal for me,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “It impacted me big time. I’m going to fly in there Saturday after the fight, and I just talked to the best friend of the dad that lost his son and the little girl, and I’m going to go meet with them and meet with Mayor (Thomas) Menino on Monday. FOX gave me some money for this thing, too. The UFC is kicking in some money. I’m excited to go.”
And though there aren’t any official plans in place for the UFC to do any type of particular community outreach in Boston for potentially still-recovering victims, it’s almost a given something like that will take place.
“This show was always a big show for us,” White said. “It’s the launch of FOX Sports 1, it’s in Boston, which is home for me. But this whole thing has been really terrible. When it happens in your home town, it’s just crazy. I think about all the times I went to the Marathon. It’s a holiday, kids are off school. It’s so cowardice.”
For the latest on UFC on FOX Sports 1 1, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.