LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White doesn’t know if anything will put him on the brink of stress in the mixed martial arts business again – no, after everything he faced in 2020.
But this 2021 was a good year for the UFC and much of the company’s success can be attributed to its ability to navigate the pandemic of the previous year. The UFC was probably the most aggressive sports company in the world when it came to sticking to its 2020 schedule, keeping up with hosting events at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and its own UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
White insists that the main reason for operating so aggressively in 2020 was to keep his employees and athletes working during the pandemic. From a financial point of view, naturally, it paid off. According to White, the UFC fan base increased “more than 40%” this year and the UFC sold approximately 8.6 million PPV’s, which is a brand for the company.
According to White, 2022 begins in a similar way. Since the UFC pay-per-view events returned to the packed arenas, there have been eight consecutive sold-out events – and UFC 271 on January 22 in Anaheim, California, is set to produce more than $ 5 million at the box office. That figure would shatter the California mark of $ 3.24 million set at UFC 241 in 2019.
Here’s what White had to say on several of the biggest issues that will fuel the UFC this new year:
About Amanda Nunes: I spoke to her that night (her loss to Julianna Peña) and she said she can’t explain it; her body stilled. I could not do anything. He doesn’t understand it and wants to find out. You are going to dig deeper and talk to coaches to find out what happened to you. He went out looking for Julianna and the thing with Julianna is that she had it fixed in her mind that she was going to win that fight. He put pressure on Amanda and stayed on the offensive and did what it took to win.
About Conor McGregor: What I’ve been saying about him, and will always say, is that he has a lot of money but is still super passionate about combat. He is excited to be back and doing whatever it takes to get back in shape. He is telling me, and you can see it on social media and the way he sees it. If everything heals well with his leg, he will be back this summer. I have no idea what the outlook will look like upon his return. Dustin Poirier could be retired at that time. I don’t know (if I can fight for the title immediately that I come back). I will not know the answer until we are closer to the date.
On Nate Díaz, already in the last fight of his contract: There is no difference (who is facing). Every time we put it on, the main thing is that it be a fight that the fans want to see. The other, depending on how much they do, is intended to be a big fight. A good fight. A fight that matters. A fight that creates excitement, energy – and sells. But that’s always the same, whether you have 10 fights or none (on your contract). If we did not want to extend Nate Díaz’s contract, we would wait for the agreement to expire and that’s it. We’ve had fighters like that, and Nate could be one of them. Our heavyweight champion is about to end his contract. But it’s kind of subtle, because I don’t want to just sit here and act like Nate turned down one fight here and one there. I don’t want to fall for that. I say this all the time: my business is fighting. By contract, I have to offer these guys three fights a year and they can take it or turn it down. We are working on it. The trilogy with McGregor is always there. That fight could happen. We can do it.
On Nate’s brother Nick Diaz: I was very impressed with their comeback in September. I spoke to Robbie Lawler (who beat Diaz) and he only has respect for him and the way he fought. But regardless of what Diaz looked like, what he accomplished after being away for so long, I don’t think Nick should fight. He is an adult and can do what he likes. But I don’t think Nick does this because he loves him. You do it because you need to. People always ask me what the key to success is. It’s all about being happy and doing what you love. When I talk to people who are sitting in heavy traffic, for a job they hate, so I feel with Nick Diaz. When preparing for combat, you are in heavy traffic. It’s fascinating, actually. But yeah, for a guy who’s been away so long, my respects to Nick.
On Francis Ngannou, in the last fight of his contract: These things happen. Agreement is not always achieved. When you are a fighter you have to be careful who represents you. I don’t think he has the best representation. Hey, if you want to be with us, we want you to be. If not, there is not problem. It’s fine. I think his contract, and I say it from memory, if he wins he still has something with us after this fight. You probably have one more.