Dana White Confident in UFC Star Power Even Without Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva

January 31, 2014
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Ronda Rousey UFC 157LOS 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 LiddellMatt 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.”

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  • brad king

    rousey a ppv commodity will never fly. UFC is soon to fall into 2nd place behind bellator.

    • Mark Bazid

      Thats just a stupid comment.
      Bellator is no where even close to the UFC in terms of audience size.
      You should educate yourself on the sport before embarrassing yourself with comments like that.
      Although Rousey will NEVER be a star like GSP she’s a bigger star then anyone in Bellator.

      • Rouseylicksballs

        Don’t agree Ronda isn’t a bigger star then anybody bellator why because Dana white said so your delusional

        • Mark Bazid

          Because Dana said so? No! Because she’s in Fast 7, Expendables 3, and on dozens of magazine covers. Because UFC 157, the PPV that she headlined sold 450000 buys. Bellator can’t even put a PPV together without a couple of washed up UFC fighters. How many guys in Bellator are on non mma magazines and in major motion pictures? You’re talking out of your ass!

          • Eric Desmarais

            You’re right Mr Bazid, but a change is very possible ! It is always a question of time ! Fighters want money and respect ! As soon as Bellator would be able to give them both, it’s a new Era !

          • Mark Bazid

            If you look a few posts above I said something very similar. I don’t think that the UFC will hold their grip on the sport forever. At least I hope not. I would like to see other organizations showcase the kind of talent that you see in the UFC. I would also like to see unified titles like in boxing. For example, it would be great to see a unification bout between Eddie Alverez and Pettis. I think that it would be great for the sport. I think your right in that it’s only a matter of time. But it’s not today and probably not for a few years at the very least.

          • Eric Desmarais

            Pettis vs Alvarez Epic !

      • brad king

        Rousey cant draw a crowd. Without Henderson and Machida as the co-main event, the night would have been a joke, just like you and your thoughts of being intelligent.

    • Stefano ‘Zwonimir’ Sega Nogaro

      I don’t think a UFC without starpower athletes will fall into a #2 place …
      instead is highly possible that MMA will never become a major sport in any country of this world and will stay as a niche sport

    • Eric Desmarais

      Yahman, if the fighters don’t feel the respect from the Boss, they will go to fight in Bellator, and it only takes a couple of High Level Fighters to invert the Market Position and than the salaries will follow pretty fast ! Competition is good for everyone ! Even for Mr White to grow up a little !

  • Sir_Roy

    Hate to say it, but Dana’s right … to an extent. It’s the sport we all love, not just the athletes that make it great. But the two are mutually inclusive.

    Chuck, Randy, Hughes gave way to Silva, Jones and GSP … so yeah, there will always be others to carry the sport to new heights. However, not if Dana treats them as disposable there won’t. Not for the UFC. The sport needs its superstars. They are not disposable. I think that’s the point we fans want to impress most heavily onto Dana White who has a tendency to treat them like a disposable commodity just a tad too much. There will always be fighters looking for their chance in the Octagon. Sure. But, when it comes to “superstars” Dana needs them more than they need him … he needs to learn that lesson a little more quickly than he has thus far.

    • Mark Bazid

      Great comment. I agree with you. The only thing is that until there is competition that has a comparable audience size, Dana wont learn that lesson because if fighters wont have a choice if they want to earn the kind of living that the UFC can provide. A UFC fighter will earn anywhere from $150,000 to several million a year in the UFC. The earning power in other orgs is not even close.

      • Sir_Roy

        Agreed. Which is why I specified “super star”. Because, ostensibly, by that point they will have already made millions. GSP and Silva are set for life (unless they spend foolishly). Unfortunately they’re the exception and not the rule.

    • james j

      Comment is to wordy. Brief it up so it is readable

    • Baller31

      Well said

  • Austin Clay Cooper

    I think Anthony Pettis has more potential star power than GSP and Silva. His ability to mix in flashy moves in such an effective manner makes him a natural fan favorite and he’s also brash and always looking for a fight. As much as I want to see him fight Aldo, the UFC would be wise to give Pettis some time to build up his resume as champion before letting the two fight. But I do understand putting the fight on sooner rather than later given how recently they planned on fighting and how dominant Aldo has been. I also would love to see Mendes get another shot at Aldo before Aldo moves up. The point is, fighters like Anthony Pettis, Ronda Rousey, Demetrious Johnson, John Dodson, Urijah Faber (if he wins on Saturday), Chad Mendes, and Chris Weidman have all proved that they have the ability to put on entertaining and exciting fights consistently. The UFC is in no short supply of exciting talent.

  • Eric Desmarais

    UFC will survive for sure. But money entries will go down for sure. Eh come on, GSP and Silva the two best pound per pound out almost at the same time ! Don’t ask why White is working so hard to get Lesnar back !

  • Cirric Fylenco

    If Dana wasn’t confident, think he would admit to it?

    • Slicer
  • BobLemons

    The Alvarez fiasco ruined Bellators reputation as a good employer, the Askren stuff too, I don’t see an awful lot of high profile fighters in their prime wanting a Bellator contract..

  • The Man

    This m*therf*cker is delusional. First, his mouth is too big and the act is getting old. Do some research and see what Silva and St-Pierre’s PPV buys are and the % of UFC $ that is.This is not the NFL, the drop off level of talent is much higher in MMA. This sport is slowly dying but Dana’s trying to tell you it isn’t. “Fastest growing sport” means what? Compared to??? There are no major stars anymore and Jon Jones has one main competitor. It’s so obvious to see that the UFC’s best days are behind it. Guys get hurt too much and the replacement fights are a joke. I’ll bet anyone that has UFC stock is selling right now.

    • The Man

      I didn’t mention that the women’s matches suck. They’re trying to blow up a one-trick pony. Zzz…

    • kale

      Fastest growing sport thing got old 5 years ago for sure

    • kale

      I dont see any good ppv fight coming up that id pay for. They better start putting on “freak shows” again and have daina doing major announcements in the middle of the shows. Maybe even do a big rule change like having “soccer kicks” i know its to violent for the tv networks but you know what.. i definitely would start paying for ppv again.. i gurenty john jones wont be starting his fights with his hand on the ground anymore.. theres some stupid rules in ufc.. its not ultimate fighting championship its more like ultimate fighting entertainment. . UFE

  • Denny Swain

    Dana, hey dana!!!!!!!!!! No one likes women fighting, it’s basically just ok. Fighting fans want to see bad tough guys going at it. Women fighting should always be the opening act. Pleasedont ever make women fighting a main event because you wont make any money, unless you have a great undercard.

    • opposition13

      Women fighting are so fkn boring!!!! And making it a main event is definetly the worst move by the UFC ever!!!!

      • Greg Wong

        Completely disagree, alot of these girls are shit loads more aggressive than heaps of the guys and seem to roll through massive barrages of punches, they are pretty tough and exciting to watch, since its so new to ufc we havent seen enough talent roll through yet, as it progresses its going to get even better, there are girls that fight like dudes, just saying

  • brad king

    should tell it to the UFC so maybe they can pay there fighters a decent pay rate

  • Michael

    There won’t be unified titles in mma because they’re promotional titles. There should be international sanctioning bodies whose titles are competed for in any promotion.

  • uncle

    The star power for today what about the future no freak nature athlete is going to do MMA when they could
    get paid way more from NFL NBA please pay the fighters

  • Marc

    The UFC is in a dry spot right now what with Cain, GSP and Silva OUT. Apart from Sports Bar PPV Buys, not too many are going to hit the Button and see $49.95 added to their monthly TV Bill.

    Don’t know what Dana is waiting for and not doing a Jones vs Texteiri (Sp.) match unless the former won’t go near that Brazilian (which may be the case)?