Although mixed martial arts fans can’t stop clamoring over the unbelievable shootout Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson showcased at UFC 139 on Saturday, company president Dana White (Pictured) is relieved the brutal affair didn’t go down last weekend during their primetime television premiere on FOX.
According to White, he’s just fine with the 64-second scrap between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez as being their first foray into the mainstream market.
“If that fight that happened [with Henderson and Shogun] went on FOX for the first time ever, let me tell you what, I would not be having a good time these last five or six days,” White stated at the post-fight press conference. “We’ve got to ease our way … look, we live in this bubble that the rest of the world doesn’t live in and doesn’t understand. We’re still in an education process and educating the masses about what the sport is and what it’s all about.
“Those of us who are in this room and people who have been watching this for a long time just incredibly appreciate what those two did in there, and you can understand what they went through and what’s going on. The rest of the world would go, ‘Oh my God. What was that?'”
Interestingly enough, White made this statement after professing Shogun vs. Hendo was easily one of the top 3 scraps in MMA history. However, there is a distinct difference between diehards that aren’t going anywhere and newbies that the UFC is hoping won’t go away.
White’s mentality helps explain why the organization painted over the bloodied Octagon canvas prior to FOX’s show hitting the airwaves. Even with the benefit of hindsight, White claims he wouldn’t have wanted it to work out any other way. In fact, he reiterated the harsh message he had for his detractors from last weekend.
“I said it before and I’ll say it again, if I could go back in a time machine and do the FOX fight again, it would be done the same exact way. Exactly the same way,” White flatly stated. “The hardcores can [expletive] about that fight. I couldn’t care less what they think about that fight. I don’t care. People are like, ‘Oh, you don’t care what your fans think?’ No, I do not care what you think. That fight had to go the way that it went because none of you guys understand what goes on behind the scenes.
“Those of you that think we didn’t do the right thing on the first FOX fight do not understand what it takes to build this sport beyond national television. So shut up again.”
Just in case you were wondering, “UFC on FOX” garnered an average audience of 5.6 million viewers and peaked at 8.8 million, which makes it the most watched MMA event in television history.