MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani caught up with Dana White following today’s UFC 124 pre-fight press conference to talk about UFC 124 and a variety of other topics. More tidbits from Dana White below.
—Dana proclaimed that the North American MMA attendance and worldwide MMA gate records will be broken this weekend at UFC 124. He expects 23,000+ attendees and a $5+ million gate.
— Dana doesn’t know when Brock Lesnar will return or who he will fight next.
“Brock’s in the woods somewhere,” White said after a UFC 124 press conference. “I haven’t talked to him. He gets back this week or next week. I actually talked to his [manager] as I pulled in here. We’re going to talk on Monday and figure out what’s next for Brock.”
“We were going to to do the Frank Mir fight and that wasn’t very popular,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. It could be Frank Mir. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. There’s a lot of things I have to work with, injuries. Shane [Carwin] is out right now. This [legal issue] is going on with Big Country [Roy Nelson]. There are a lot of different courses that are against you at times.”
Dana also made it clear that he’s not going to let Brock do anything with the WWE because he doesn’t want “to blur the lines” between real and fake fighting.
— The judging and officiating problem in MMA is the athletic commissions’ problem, not the UFC’s.
“My job isn’t to figure out the scoring, how to train refs and how to do all these other things,” White told journalists Thursday, after a press conference for the upcoming UFC 124 show in Montreal. “That’s why we’re under the athletic commissions. That’s what these guys do. Believe me, I have enough jobs already. They need to figure out how to fix it.”
“I feel like we don’t get the same respect from these athletic commissions that boxing did all these years,” he said. “This is a real sport that continues to grow, that has millions of millions of fans, creates tons of revenue for all these different states. Get in there. Figure this thing out. Get to work. Start training some referees. Start doing some judging courses.”
“In my opinion, the ref thing is so easy,” White said. “Not everybody that has been involved in fighting is going to become a world-class professional fighter. Some of them become promoters. Some of them do other things, the guys that never to make it. Start hiring some of these guys.”
— Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is still on track for a March return.
“Rua looks good,” White said. “He was there at the [World MMA Awards last week]. He’s in great shape, walking up and down the stairs really well. What happened with Shogun was, the last couple times his knee went, he had surgery down in Brazil, didn’t do the proper rehab, started training too early, and ruined his knee.”
“This time, he had the best doctor in the United States do his knee,” White said. “He went through an incredible rehab, a perfect rehab. He took his time to rest and heal and do things the right way, so this one should work, this one should last.
“He’s ready to get back in training now.”
— Dana White isn’t sure how many seats the Rogers Centre will be configured for when they go to Toronto for UFC 131, but he won’t sacrifice the experience for a giant attendance number.
“I don’t want to ruin the experience,” White said. “But I tell you what turned me a little bit was when I went to Cowboys Stadium. There’s things that you can do with technology now to make it feel a lot better.”
“I’d want to go there with the right fight,” White said of a trip to Dallas. “As soon as I have the right fight, we’ll go there. I thought I had one, and then it fell through. I was going to do Dallas, Texas, this year or next year.”
Dana confirmed he’d like to bring GSP to Toronto. He also said Cowboys Stadium is still a possibility if he can get the right fight to headline like a GSP vs. Anderson Silva super fight.
— Dana says three international versions of TUF are planned for 2011. Canada will get the fourth. He hasn’t decided on coaches for TUF 13 yet, however everyone thinks it will be Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva after a twitter war erupted between the two in the past week.
— Dana says GSP is the most famous athlete to come out of Canada. Everyone says what about Wayne Gretzky?
— Dana talks to Heavy.com’s Megan Olivi below