LOS ANGELES — Dana White is a passionate man. Most who follow the UFC and mixed martial arts know this to be true.
While some might call him delusional for the proclamations he’s made in the past — everything ranging from the UFC being bigger than the NFL to who he thinks is the pound-for-pound best fighter — he’s rarely, if ever, backed off his stance.
This week was no different.
White said he isn’t worried about his company’s recent loss of star power stemming from the departure of Georges St-Pierre and gruesome injury to Anderson Silva. Both are out of the Octagon for indefinite periods of time, but White says his company will weather the storm of missing its two biggest pay-per-view powerhouses.
“Until Anderson Silva kicked Vitor Belfort in the face, nobody cared about Anderson Silva. Then he blew up and became this huge star,” White said. “Now everybody is like, you’re [expletive] dead when he leaves. What’s gonna happen? This is a professional sport. The window of opportunity for athletes [is only so big]. There’s always the next guy and the next guy and the next guy.”
White pointed to past experiences of UFC stars departing from the company as examples that show his company will remain strong in the pay-per-view market and on FOX networks.
“Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, and many other guys who helped build this company, everybody asked me, ‘What are you gonna do when these guys leave?’” he said. “They’re all gone. They’re all retired. And here we are talking about the growth.”
The brash UFC boss predicted critics will change their tune if someone like UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman finishes Vitor Belfort in their upcoming main event this summer.
“People are like, ‘Can Chris Weidman carry this thing?’” he said. “If Chris Weidman beats Vitor Belfort, people are all gonna be going, ‘Holy [expletive], Chris Weidman … ‘”
The unexpected superstar is something White has stumbled upon time and time again, most recently, he said, with Alexander Gustafsson. Critics slammed the UFC and White for matching light heavyweight champion Jon Jones with the Swedish fighter, predicting the champ would easily walk through Gustafsson in their fight.
That was far from the case when their UFC 165 fight was all done.
Gustafsson put on a performance that turned doubters into believers, and although he lost a decision, he gave Jones the toughest fight of his career.
“Overnight, Alexander Gustafsson becomes a star,” White claimed. “All the people that were bitching that we made this fight – we don’t do the rematch, [and they said], ‘What the [expletive], how can you not make this rematch?!’”
And new shining stars keep popping up in the sky that is the UFC roster, according to White. He went down his list of titleholders and hyped his fighters as being capable of making blockbuster fight cards.
“Anthony Pettis, if he can stay healthy, is a [expletive] superstar,” he declared. “Ronda Rousey is a massive star, arguably one of the biggest stars in the UFC right now.”