Dana White split time defending pay-per-view costs and bashing the competition Tuesday during a media conference promoting WEC 48. The April 24 event in Sacramento will be World Extreme Cagefighting’s first foray into pay-per-view. The promotion previously aired its events free on the Versus network.
In the headliner, Featherweight Champion Jose Also will fight WEC poster boy Urijah Faber for the 145-pound title. In the co-main event, lightweight champion Ben Henderson fights Donald Cerrone in a rematch of WEC 43, a bout many felt was the best fight of 2009.
“You have to make that jump to pay per view at the right time and right way,” the UFC president said. “I truly believe this is the card to do it with. This card is stacked with great talent. These guys deserve to be on pay per view.
“I want to get this fight on as fast as possible and erase what happened the last two weeks.”
White referred to Anderson Silva’s bizarre non-fight against Demian Maia at UFC 112 on April 10 and the post-fight melee at Strikeforce on April 17.
“This has been a bad couple weeks for MMA,” White said. “It really has. We couldn’t have a better fight following all this crap. Aldo-Faber will be a sick fight. The co-main event is awesome. Thank god this fight is happening.”
Here are the condensed thoughts of White and the main event fighters of WEC 48:
The always colorful, f-bombing UFC president dominated much of the conversation Tuesday.
On the pay-per-view price – “Should this card be less than what normal cards are? This is a great card. If Roy Jones- Bernard Hopkins (did) 90,000 (pay-per-view buys) and these guys don’t double that, it’s terrible. A night of great fights for 45 bucks? Come on.”
On merging the WEC and UFC lightweight divisions – “As we add more weight divisions (to the WEC), it would make sense to put that 155-pound division in the UFC.”
On including Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg and Bruce Buffer at WEC 48 – “We’re the pay-per-view team. The other team is the Versus team. They will still do what they have always done when it’s on Versus.”
On WEC pay scale – “The WEC fighters on this card will make more money than they’ve ever made before.”
On post-fight brawls – “There is a reason you don’t see that stuff in the UFC. Mayhem Miller would never run into the Octagon at our event. There would have been a limited amount of corner men. When you get that many people in the cage at the same time, bad stuff is going to happen.”
The WEC featherweight champion is on a nine-fight win streak, including six in the WEC. The Brazilian finished all six of his WEC opponents by TKO. Aldo (16-1) won the belt with a second-round win over Mike Brown at WEC 44. Brown beat Faber twice.
On pay-per-view pressure – “I don’t feel any extra pressure. I’m here to defend my belt as an employee of Zuffa and the WEC.
On preparing for Faber – “It’s no surprise what I am going to do. I come in aggressive. I’ve put a good strategy together. As a mixed martial artist, you have to be prepared for wherever it goes.”
On differences between Faber and Mike Brown – “Yes, I’ve watched the fights with Mike Brown against Urijah Faber but like Urijah Faber said, a fight is a fight and anything can happen in there. Mike Brown was a great champion and same thing with Urijah. The biggest difference between Urijah and Mike Brown is that I think Mike Brown may be a little bit slower. Urijah is quicker.
On life as a champion – “Quite a few things have changed in my life. Now every time I have a match I don’t look at it like I am defending the belt. I look at this like it like I am wining a brand new belt. I am always trying to get better and put on the fight the world wants to see.”
On immediate post-fight challenges – “I don’t mind it at all. Once you become a champion you put a target on yourself. At the end of the day if a guy wants to come in and challenge you, it’s a good promotion and you have to expect that.”
The “California Kid” has been the face of the WEC for three years and heavily marketed by Zuffa. He also defended the featherweight title five times before losing to Brown at WEC 36 and again at WEC 41. Nine of Faber’s 11 WEC fights have been for the title.
On preparing for Aldo – “I don’t know exactly what I am going to do different. I’m going to make sure I’m ready for anything. We are the best guys out there; the most interesting guys out there. I’m willing to get a little crazy. That’s what this sport is about. I will fight until the bitter end, if my hand’s cut off, my leg’s cut off, one eye… I don’t care.”
On pay-per-view pressure – “I’m fighting one guy – one guy who will be trying to beat me up and I’m trying to beat him up. It’s pretty primal to me. It hasn’t been different to me. The differences have nothing to do with me really.”
On pay-per-view financial rewards – “The more money you can make for your boss the more they can kick you down. I’ve tried to be a great employee. I’ve put my heart and soul into everything. I want to prove I can make some money and hopefully I can get some in return. This is what I’ve been working towards: to prove I can make some money.”
On fighting in Sacramento – “I don’t care where we fight. Wherever we go I’d be a fan favorite… well, maybe not in Aldo’s hometown in Brazil (Manaus). It just comes down to two guys wanting to fight and make it as big as possible.”
On similar opponents – “This sport is about match-ups. I think I have the tools to beat Mike Brown, but one mistake and some bad luck was really the difference in those fights. The bottom line is I’m a whole different fighter than Mike Brown. This is a whole different match-up. I’m an able-bodied top-level athlete ready to go out there and get a belt.
On the post-fight scuffle in Strikeforce – “The only thing that was 100 percent sure of, always, was that the Diaz brothers would jump in to help out their buddy. That was the one thing I was sure of.”
Henderson (11-1) is a 10-fight win-streak and is 4-0 in the WEC. After beating Cerrone for the interim lightweight title, “Smooth” won the belt outright by submitting Jamie Varner at WEC 46.
On replicating their 2009 fight – “I know Donald is bringing his A-game. You better believe I’m bringing my A-game. We’re going to go out there, rinse and repeat.”
On being champion – “Life is pretty much the same. The biggest part is getting fan mail. That’s pretty humbling. As far as training camp and having the bullseye on my back, I love it. I relish it. Knowing there are 100’s of guys out there having day dreams of (fighting) me. I love it.”
On the first fight – “The closest (I was to being finished) was the guillotine in the first round. I was going for a takedown and thought this is getting tight, I’d better start defending it. I thought I had won the fight. I knew I won rounds one, two and three and Donald kicked my butt in the last two. That’s the fight people want to see. I was glad I was a part of it.”
On the WEC and UFC merging lightweight divisions – “If it did happen and did go through I’d love to fight some of those guys. I’d be all for it 100 percent.”
Four of Cerrone’s (11-2-1) last five WEC bouts have been main events. The “Cowboy’s” only two losses: Henderson and Varner in lightweight title bouts. In each fight, Cerrone has the eventual champion in severe trouble and decisions could have gone either way.
On the first fight with Henderson – “I feel like I won the last two (rounds). I felt like Ben won the second and third and the first one could have gone either way. After the fight was over, I was like hell yeah, (f-yeah). That’s what it’s about.”
On replicating their 2009 fight – “I don’t feel any other added pressure to put on the same show, another fight of the year. We’re going to go out there and let it all go and see what happens.”
Learning from their 2009 bout – “Looking back to see what he did to counter what I did. Just going out there and letting it all go is what I plan on. My takedown defense has been something I worked on for years. Bring that shit on Ben.”
On the WEC and UFC merging lightweight divisions – “I’m comfortable where it is right now. If (the WEC) does merge with the UFC one day, awesome. It’s a great honor for us all to be at the same level.”