President Dana White
London Press Conference interview
as the UFC Press Conference was finishing
SFUK managed to grab UFC President Dana White
for a quick interview about the UFC UK and
the future of the worlds best known
MMA event. After the press conference Dana
came up to London
Shootfighters to do a little training
after class. Kamal
Lock took him on the pads and then we
all chatted MMA for an hour or so. What really
came across is how much this man loves MMA.
His enthusiasm for the coming fights, determination
to bring the best fighters, make the most
exciting match ups and general love of the
sport were refreshing to see in someone who
has the job that he has. This man is no mere
suit brought in to run the show, hes
one of us, a fan and a nice guy to boot, with
him at the helm the UFC is going places. This
is the transcript of our conversation at the
Has it always been part of your vision
for the UFC to bring it to the UK or is this
a more recent development?
White : Actually we have a global
strategy right now, the UK, Brazil, Japan
we just did, Germany, France, the Middle East
gonna be in about 25 countries by the end
of this year.
That sounds amazing.
White : Yeah but we had to get
it in the UK though (laughs)
Did you have a body of market research
to suggest the size of the potential audience
in the UK?
White : Yeah we did. We worked
here with the companies RDA, Clear Channel
and Sky Box Office. We got together and kind
of figured out the logistics of this whole
thing and we got a great response. They didnt
announce it today, I thought they were going
to, but the show (on Sky) is being bumped
from one hour to two hours now on Thursday
nights. Weve had that good a response.
How come youve had such a good response?
I mean from the advertising angle there hasnt
been a great deal of publicity about it.
White : No, no, we did a soft launch.
Everything weve done so far has been
a soft launch. After this press conference
today youre going to see it get very
aggressive, were going to get very,
very aggressive here now.
Did you have any problems with the licensing?
Getting the Royal Albert Hall was amazing,
I mean we heard rumours ages ago and we were
like "No, no, no, well believe
that when we see it". How the hell did
you do it?
White : Thats the way we
operate. If youve ever seen since weve
taken over, we dont mess around, we
dont go small, we come in and we do
things the right way. Just like our first
show, we did our first two shows at the Taj
Mahal and then our third show was at the Meadowlands,
you know, thats big (laughs). We wanted
to come into England with a bang and theres
no better way to do that than the Royal Albert
(Laughing) You might as well do it in
the Queens garden, I mean, thats
White : No, I agree (laughs)
And no problems at all? Not with the licensing
White : No, weve really
got this thing down to a science now, weve
really got it figured out. Just like you said
there hasnt been any aggressive marketing
until now, now were really getting aggressive
with it. The only resistance we had was we
were calling it "The Royal Albert Brawl",
they didnt like that so now its
"The Brawl in the Hall" or something
Do you think the UFC coming here is going
to take the MMA scene in this country to a
pinnacle, create a make or break situation
for us over here? Weve suffered from
a lot of bad press, like you have in the States
in the past, I mean this could catalyse great
things or it could get us banned.
White : I know, exactly. Not only
in the UK but all over the world, in these
25 countries that were going into and
the US, this is definitely, I mean not to
sound arrogant or anything like that but right
now Zuffa is spearheading the movement of
mixed martial arts. Were reaching out
to all the different countries and were
really making a splash, if we can make this
thing work in the next couple of years then
this sport is going to be here for a long
Are there plans to continue to show the
UFC on pay-per-view after the live show over
here? Will subsequent events be available
on TV in the UK?
White : Yes, absolutely.
One of the things thats been a problem
for UK fans is the difficulty in getting the
shows on tape and that once you get them you
already know the results and so on.
White : No no, we hoping to have
the whole thing up and running so if a show
goes off in the US or the UK, I mean were
going jive live from the UK to the US, so
theyll be able to see it live also.
Thats what were trying to do right
now, were trying to link this up so
theres no delay. So if we have a show
in the UK, the US, Japan, Brazil, everybody
sees it. Were just trying to dial this
thing right now.
I want to ask you about the pricing for
the event in London, weve had a lot
of feedback from die-hard fans who would obviously
sell a kidney to be there and then there are
those who are real fans but they all think
its we bit too expensive.
White : Yeah, our shows in Las
Vegas, ringside tickets are $300
Yeah, thats about the same but the
other tickets work out about 30% cheaper in
White : The thing is if you guys
have ever been to a live UFC event, its
worth every penny.
Of that I have no doubt - but do you not
think, I mean you must be confident youre
going to sell out anyway, but possibly you
will miss out some of the people that are
White : Its a possibility,
we dont know, were testing it
out and well see what happens and well
go back to the drawing board if it doesnt
Lets just say as a hypothesis that
you dont sell out, how will that affect
the future of the UFC over here? Will you
be coming back?
White : Were confident.
Weve pretty much got the ticket selling
thing to fine art. In Vegas, the casinos and
stuff love us. The reality is: We sell tickets.
Boxing events they give away most of the tickets,
we sell a lot of tickets.
The fan base, its been underground
for so long that its developed really
White : It really has. Its
like we were talking about earlier, do we
think we can do this, were spearheading
this movement, this is a sport that wont
die. The biggest politicians, the biggest
media conglomerates, you name it, all tried
to kill this sport a few years ago and they
werent able to do it. I really dont
think this sport is going anywhere it doesnt
Have you had any feedback from politicians
over here about it?
White : Not yet. I read this thing
in the Guardian this morning about those people,
its the same thing weve been facing
in the states, its people who are uneducated.
I challenge anyone, come down and meet these
guys, see what real athletes they are. I dont
have to preach to you guys, you guys know
it but I challenge any of them, any day, to
come down and meet a couple of these guys
and tell me these guys arent good people
and good athletes.
Do you have plans to do live shows in
other European countries?
White : Absolutely, this things
gonna be global and were gonna take
Thank you very much Dana. Good luck with
White : Thanks guys, its
been a pleasure.