Ground and Pound


We media people rarely come across an interviewee as entertaining and candid as UFC mastermind and Las Vegan Dana White. Here, he answers some questions about gambling, wealth and why he likes certain fighters.

(UFC 114 heads for the MGM on Saturday -- and the UFC Fan Expo goes to Mandalay Bay today and Saturday.)

Question: As a blackjack player, is he up or down over the course of the past few years?

Answer: I'm probably one of the biggest players in town right now.

Q: How big?

A: (Laughing) I'm not going there, man! Big. The thing about gambling is, you're gonna have your days where you go in and kick their ass, and then you're gonna have your days where they kick your ass. And at the end of the year, you find out how it all balances out. But I do pretty well.

Q: Now that he's rich and famous, does that make life easier?

A: Honestly, I don't think about it. I don't focus on it. I'm literally here in the office every day working or I'm traveling. I play cards. Everything is still normal to me.

I haven't popped my head up and looked around (at personal wealth), because it is kind of weird and kind of freaky, because I'm a normal guy, just like you or anybody else. I didn't grow up with money or any of that (expletive), so I try to keep it normal as much as I possibly can.

Q: A lot of famous people say it's better to be rich than famous.

A: It lets me 100 percent focus on what I do. ... My finances -- I don't have to pay attention to it at all. That's what'll keep you (expletive) normal.

Q: How many fighters are likable personally?

A: Most of these guys, I like them very much. I have my guys I can't stand, too.

Q: UFC announcer Joe Rogan says the best fighters are usually nice guys. Are most fighters good guys?

A: There are a lot of great guys, but also some dickheads, and some you don't get along with. But that doesn't mean you can't do business together.

Q: In Dana White's mind, what's the difference between a great guy and a dickhead?

A: You don't have to be nice to me. It's how you represent yourself. It's your attitude. Basically, what's your attitude? I'm not out there asking any fighter to kiss my ass.

The way I look at my fighters is, these guys are our partners. I do what I do, and they do what they do, and when we both do it well, it makes everything great for everybody.

You get some guys who absolutely lose their minds and think they're bigger than everything and bigger than everybody else, and it's all about them and nobody else. And in the UFC, it's not about any one guy. It's about everybody.

Q: Another UFC Fan Expo is starting in Boston in August. And other expos may go to other cities. So will the UFC always keep the original expo in Vegas?

A: We'll keep doing it in Vegas, absolutely.

I love this city. I'm not saying that because I want people living in Las Vegas to think that. I (expletive) love this city.

I've been to every city all over the world, and when we're landing in Vegas, man, and I see the Strip and the lights, I'm like, '(Expletive) yeah, man! I can't wait to get home.'

I was built for this city -- the energy and the 24 hours, everything about this city, honestly. I can't imagine I would live anywhere else.

Q: The UFC moved that big Anderson Silva fight to Abu Dhabi this year. A lot of Las Vegans would have liked to see that fight here.

A: We've gotta move the thing around. You can't keep coming to Vegas. It gets too hard to sell tickets when you keep coming to the same spot.

Q: Also, some fans also weren't happy to see WEC fights move from free TV or cable TV to pay-per-view.

A: The way you stay in business is you go on pay-per-view. You have to. You can't just keep doing free fights on free TV. That model doesn't work. It's great to do both, because when you ask for people to pay for 'X' amount of fights, you give them back a bunch of free fights, too -- good fights.

Q: Is Vegas forever the home to UFC?

A: Growing up here, we've never had a professional sports franchise. The UFC is Vegas' home team.

Doug Elfman's column appears Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail him at delfman@ reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

 

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