UFC president Dana White stopped by “The Herd” on Wednesday to talk UFC 210 and update host Colin Cowherd on what’s going on around the UFC. Here are the biggest takeaways from their conversation.
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The transition to New York has been 'great
The UFC returns to Buffalo, New York for the first time in over 20 years this weekend at UFC 210 but it will be the fourth time the promotion has visited the state since the ban on MMA was lifted in 2016. The UFC held successful pay-per-views in Manhattan and Brooklyn while also hosting a fight night in Albany and it doesn’t appear they’ll be stopping anytime soon.
Colin Cowherd: You’ve done a lot in Nevada and LA but you’re transitioning to New York. How has that been behind the scenes?
Dana White: This is actually our fourth fight in New York and it’s been great. It’s been a long time coming and it’s actually been really good. Buffalo is going to sell out this weekend, too, and yeah, New York has been good to us so far.
Mayweather is worth the headache
The UFC is putting a lot of the line by allowing its most popular fighter to potentially face all-time boxing great Floyd Mayweather later this year. But according the UFC president, the financial implications of the matchup far outweigh the negative impact of any perceived negative associations with Mayweather.
Colin Cowherd: Another story came out about Mayweather today where his daughter lost some competition and it was really an ugly moment. I wonder is Mayweather necessarily important or good for your business? His brand now, Dana, is getting so bad and so negative, I wonder if Mayweather is even worth the headache for UFC?
Dana White: It’s a fight that people do want to see. It’s intriguing and obviously it a fight that Conor wants because financially, it’s going to be massive for him. McGregor is a fighter I have a lot of respect for. He has stepped up in time where people who were at his level would never step up. I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it again -- I’m the guy in the room, im the guy on the phone when these guys are looking down the barrel of a new opponent a week before the fight, and Conor McGregor doesn’t flinch. This kid steps up, he’ll fight anybody, anytime. You know, a lot of people say it, very few really mean it. Conor McGregor -- I can him the unicorn, man -- I’ve never dealt with a kid like this. So for him to have the opportunity to make this kind of money and this type of a fight that people are so interested in, worldwide, I almost feel like I have to make it.
Jeffrey SwingerJeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
The UFC will always have stars
Colin Cowherd: How do you ensure that you have six more McGregor’s in the next seven years?
Dana White: I’ll probably never have another McGregor. Everybody’s different in their own way, everyone’s unique. I’m not going to have six more unicorns, I can promise you that, but I will have other stars. People have been saying to me since, ‘Oh my god what are you going to do when Chuck Liddell’s gone, what are you going to do when Matt Hughes is gone?’ or ‘Oh, what’s going to happen to the UFC once GSP is gone?’ The list goes on and on, I’ve been hearing this stuff for years … that’s what I do -- that’s my job is to go out, find new talent and build it.
Colin Cowherd: Where do you go to find it?
Dana White: Everywhere, well, it’s getting easier now. Nobody knew Conor McGregor four years ago. Four years ago people didn’t even know who Conor McGregor was. Now that the sport is getting bigger and its global, men, women and children from a young age are training in mixed martial arts. Kids that would have played soccer or basketball or football or baseball are training in mixed martial arts, all over the world. I’m going to continue to find the best fighters in the world, male or female. It’s what I do.
Adam HungerAdam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Dana White is all in on women in the UFC
It seems like an eternity since Dana White said women would never fight in the UFC but it was really just under four years ago. Since then, White has completely changed his tune. Not only are their women on the roster, but the promotion has two women’s division, a third on the way, and their fights have been some of the most captivating in recent memory.
White hasn’t regretted his decision one bit.
Colin Cowherd: Was there a moment for you, where you left an event and thought, ‘God, this is real, these are skilled, world-class athletes.’
Dana White: Oh yeah, absolutely. Obviously the men have been at this level for a long time, what’s really blown me away are the women. Like I said, I didn’t see the women thing coming and their so tough, so technical, so talented and it just keeps getting better and better. It’s funny because on this card in Buffalo this weekend, there’s a girl, she’s from Team Alpha Male, her name is Cynthia Calvillo. She fought on the Wonderboy Thompson-Woodley card. I was so blown away, I was so impressed by her that I’m actually bringing her back already, if Buffalo. She’s taking on a girl named Pearl Gonzalez and I’m actually really excited for that fight. You know we got Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi, we got Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson, Myles Jury is coming back, he’s in the main event on FS1, and I’m more excited about the girl’s fight.
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Dana White agrees, Daniel Cormier is underappreciated
UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is one of the UFC’s best fighters and an absolute model citizen. Yet, he’s struggled to gain much traction amongst UFC fans. That might have a little something to do with Cormier’s longstanding feud with fan favorite Jon Jones.
Colin Cowherd: How big is style to your fighters? Because clearly Cormier is a monster but, he wrestles, he pins, the crowd sometimes hisses. Is part of McGregor just the dude is interesting?
Dana White: It’s the weirdest thing ever that he has not been embraced by the fans. He’s a great guy, he’s very well spoken and his fights are exciting. Cormier is an exciting fighter. It’s a weird thing. They like the bad boy Jon Jones. Last time we had a press conference with those two, they were cheering Jones and booing Cormier. It’s fascinating. I don’t get it. It is what it is.