by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com

Year End State of the UFC

In his
post-fight comments following UFC 79 on Dec. 29, Ultimate Fighting Championship
president Dana White not only discussed the evening’s festivities, but spent a
healthy portion of his time talking about the most aggressive year in the
history of the promotion, as well as his plans for the future.


He stated
that UFC 79 brought in a live gate of $4.9 million, which makes it the highest
grossing mixed martial arts event of 2007 and the second highest grossing in
the history of the sport, indicating that it was a strong finish to a very
active year.


“We had a
kick ass 2007. It was an aggressive year for us; buying Pride, the WEC, cover
of Sports Illustrated, moving into Europe, and next year’s going to be even
bigger,” said White.


“Every year
we’ve taken this thing to another level, wait until you see what we do with


One of the
most broached subjects is always the expansion of the territories that the UFC
operates in. White has already confirmed the promotion’s Canadian debut, which
is slated to take place in Montreal in April. On Saturday night, he also stated
that Germany is a target for 2008.


even deeper into his crystal ball, he said, “The two places we’re focusing on
right now are New York and Mexico, so I’m hoping to be in both by 2009.” Though
he said that a return to Brazil isn’t currently on the radar.


White has
made no secret of the fact that he wants Georges St-Pierre to headline the
first Canadian event. With the new interim welterweight champion coming out of
his fight with Matt Hughes relatively unscathed, the only question now is
regarding his opposition.


He couldn’t
confirm it, but is seemingly hopeful that he’ll be able to pit St-Pierre in a
unification bout against current champion Matt Serra, who is suffering from a
recent back injury.


“Matt Serra
is very confident that he will heal quickly. I think he feels he’ll be ready
for April. That wouldn’t suck,” commented White with a grin on his face.


the numerous other entities that are making a run at promoting MMA events, he
addressed one newcomer in particular, but remained supremely confident in his
promotion’s position as the industry’s leader.


“This sport
is like the ‘Wild, Wild West’ right now. The biggest guy (coming into the
sport) right now is Mark Cuban. He’s got a lot of money and everyone is talking
about what he’s going to do,” White expounded. “Floyd Mayweather is walking
around with $70 million in his pocket and we all know how Floyd loves to spend
money, so I’m sure Cuban is trying to get him to invest in it.


“I like it.
The more money that comes into the sport the better it is to help grow the
sport. More athletes get fights, make money, start their careers, and they’ll
all end up in the UFC at the end of the day.”


But he
doesn’t seem overly considered with the opposition. In contrast, he seems to
fall into the old dictum of “the best defense is a strong offense” and focused
his strategies on what his organization is doing to keep the juggernaut


“There’s still a lot more work to do,” he said
matter-of-factly. But aiming square on at rumors of a television deal with CBS,
White stated, “Could be. We’re always out to get more exposure … Not
necessarily broadcast television, but we need to get more exposure.


“In the
next few weeks we’re going to be making some announcements that are going to
shake up the entire industry again.”


In the end though, he is confident in the direction the UFC
is headed and doesn’t seem overly concerned with major corporate sponsors being
slow to climb aboard (Harley-Davidson, however, was center mat for UFC 79) or
the recent derailment of a TV deal with HBO.


“It’s taken longer than I’d hoped after the whole Spike
thing started going well, but the bottom line is, we’re not going to cut a deal
that doesn’t make sense,” declared the defiant UFC president. “I don’t care who
the deal is with. We did this whole thing on our own. Nobody helped us. Nobody
was running up trying to finance us … so it’s going to be done on our terms.”