Mixed Martial Arts

Boston homecoming shows Dana White’s rapid rise as head of UFC

30th Jan 2018

 Dana White is looking for a staircase. He remembers there are steps leading to the gym he once rehabilitated, around the corner from the justice building where Will Hunting made a mockery of the court. Had you not known White was UFC’s maestro of mayhem, he’d be mistaken for just another guy from Southie. Bald, street tough, Patriots jacket and T-shirt, poking around for a way into a building without an invitation.

But it’s Boston, so of course, White knows a guy.

The keys soon arrive — and so do a few stragglers who notice the UFC president, take snapshots and quickly lobby the leader of a $4 billion company on which dream fights to book next.

White could be one of them today, because for 10 years he was one — just trying to stay afloat in his adopted hometown. He worked as a bellhop at a swanky hotel, wheelbarrowed asphalt and busted up fights as a bouncer at an Irish tavern. A 20-something White even scrapped his way out of a job at the Black Rose.

“I actually got fired for fighting over there,” he said, laughing.

But the path from barroom brawler to blossoming businessman started down the concrete stairwell to McDonough Gym. White had befriended a former Golden Gloves champion named Peter Welch and together they turned barren space into a boxing gym. White and Welch painted the joint, secured a ring and locked up gear that wasn’t worth locking up inside a storage room that has since transformed into a snack bar. They sparred and trained kids and White knew a better life was ahead than the one he had working the front of the house at a hotel.

They are still close and Welch has since opened his own boxing gym inside a converted warehouse that served as the site of a fighting reality series.

“He’s done very well for himself. He’s got a huge gym a couple of blocks down the street,” White says.

“Please,” Welch said. “Pale in comparison to what this guy did.”

All White did was use his street-smart Boston savvy to turn UFC from a dying-on-the-vine brand to a multibillion dollar industry running sanctioned events in every U.S. state. Much like in his early Boston jobs, White did the heavy lifting, worked as the front man and yeah, still fights here and there, though he mostly keeps his smackdowns these days to the verbal kind against fighters and promoters who tick him off.

White’s triumphant return last week to Boston for the UFC pay-per-view event at TD Garden was a sublime blend of his roots and present-day reality: Eating steak tips with his “goons” at a Southie pub then sitting courtside at a Celtics game with the team owner.

But as he walked into McDonough for the first time in 23 years, White’s mouth was agape when he saw how the boxing gym he built was now a community rec center filled with a pingpong table, a pool table, a computer room and a big screen TV.

“It seemed bigger when I was younger,” White said.

White was just a wannabe boxing trainer begging for a break when he was introduced to Welch by a mutual friend.

“Everybody has a friend who wants to box,” Welch said. “I just figured it was another guy who was interested in getting punched around until they feel what it was like to get hit. Then they go the other way. But this guy, he wasn’t that guy. He took his first beating and kept coming back. I took a liking to him.”


White’s taste for the squared circle dried up the day he saw a punchy pugilist stumble around a heavy bag.

“I remember looking at him thinking … what if it happens to me?” White said. “The minute you think that to yourself, you’re not a real fighter.”

The Mike Tyson junkie never laced up as a professional. He quit on his own much and thinks retired athletes should take personal responsibility for their health in the same way, knowing that fighting careers can be punishing.

“I was just telling these guys the other day, I got a CT scan on my head. It looks like a … Dalmatian,” he said. “I’ve got spots all over my brain. I wouldn’t take back one punch.”

UFC has yet to become seriously slogged down in lawsuits the way the NFL and NHL have over the thorny issues of concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

“Nobody forced you to play in the … NFL. It’s what you wanted to do,” White said. “At that time of your life, that’s the deal you signed and that’s what you did. Just like me. I’ve got spots all over my head. Who the … am I going to blame? Me, that’s who I’m going to blame. I did it because I wanted to do it.”

White’s love for fighting was passed down to his 15-year-son, Aidan. Aidan White is set to make his amateur debut at a South Boston gym on St. Patrick’s Day with his father and family cheering him on. White said he’s never pushed his athletic son into lacing up the gloves. But the MMA mogul was proud his son was going to fight in the gym run by his mentor.

“As a father, it’s your job to teach your kids how to fight,” White said. “My younger son is super aggressive in everything. He’s a really good snowboarder. He’s a really good skateboarder. Pretty much everything that kid does, he’s very good at it. All sports just come really naturally to him. So does fighting. This was his thing.”

White sits in the middle row of an SUV when his phone rings. Sure, TD Garden is a sellout and would draw a $2.45 million gate and Dana’s extended friends should help pack the place. But when three-time New England Patriots Super Bowl champion Willie McGinest is on the other line, there’s room to squeeze in one more sports great.

“I’ll hook you up with a couple of tickets,” White said over the phone. “No problem.”

White, who can add Boston ticket broker to his Linkedin resume should he move back, makes a quick call to the person who will actually leave McGinest tickets. Then he gets a quick update on what time he needs be at the Garden for the ceremonial weigh in.

The press conference turns testy when White is prodded with questions about why sidelined superstar Conor McGregor hasn’t been stripped of his lightweight championship. Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic stirred the pot a night later when he snatched the belt from White and refused to let him perform the traditional wrapping of the title belt around the winner’s waist. Even homecomings have headaches.

Yet, the 48-year-old White never considered cashing out on the company he ruthlessly ruled, rebranded, reorganized and built into a juggernaut that sold for $4 billion in July 2016.

“Why would I do anything else?” White asked. “The day I walked out of the Boston Harbor hotel, it wasn’t about the money. That’s the job guys die for. It still isn’t about the money for me. But the money came.”

White bristled at criticism that UFC had leveled off with the absences of stars such as McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones by noting — thanks in large part to its hefty cut of the outlier McGregor-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight that grossed more than $600 million — the company had its best financial year in history in 2017…



source/read more: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/other/2018/01/boston_homecoming_shows_dana_whites_rapid_rise_as_head_of_ufc?

Why Robert Whittaker is destined to become one of Australia’s biggest sports sta

10th July 2017

AUSTRALIA is still getting to know Robert Whittaker — the 26-year-old from Sydney who became the first man from these shores to wrap a bit of UFC gold around his waist in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The nature of Whittaker’s victory in his interim middleweight title bout against physical freak Yoel Romero at UFC 213 — coupled with his exemplary three-year body of work since moving to the 185-pound division — has made him a favourite with MMA fans.

But the former sparky — who can forget about his finances for a few years after pocketing half a million Aussie dollars for one day’s work — has more than enough going for him to become one of the country’s biggest sports stars.

He’s clean-cut and classy

Humble origins. Respectful in victory and defeat. Ability to fight through injury. Whittaker ticks every box Australians generally require of their champions.

Hell, he’s even got a southern cross tattoo over his heart if that’s your thing.

He’s not going to excite you with trash talk or make headlines for bad behaviour. And while that may inhibit his pay-per-view potential, it should be an advantage when the corporate world comes knocking.

If the Aussie public is honestly tired of our diva tennis stars it needs to put its money where it’s mouth is and back an athlete who is doing everything right.

He’s as mentally strong as anyone in Australian sport

It’s hard to compare standing toe to toe with a beast like Romero with say, pushing up the steeper climbs in the Tour de France or making a putt to win the US Masters.

But what’s become abundantly clear during Whittaker’s rise to the top is his mental approach to fighting is on par with anyone in the game.

Consider the discipline he maintained to avoid being caught by the creative striking of Uriah Hall. Or the composure he showed to survive an early Derek Brunson storm. Or the dexterity needed to escape “Jacare” Souza on the ground.

But all those performances paled in comparison to what he produced against Romero. After copping a savage kick to the front of an already-injured knee in the opening round, Whittaker was forced to fight another 20 minutes against the most-feared man in the division with limited movement.

After dropping the first two rounds, his margin for error was razor-thin. But he put all that behind him to snatch the third round and then held firm when Romero gave everything in an attempt to win the fight in the fourth. He never looked back. It was inspirational.

He’s only 26 years old

Whittaker joined UFC luminaries like Jon Jones, Jose Aldo and BJ Penn by winning his first strap in his mid-20s.

He needs to knock off undisputed middleweight champion Michael Bisping to cap his rise to the top — but from that point anything is possible.

Producing an extended reign as champion won’t be easy in a division that has treated its belt like a hot potato in recent years. There’s a murderer’s row of potential opponents, including former champions Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman and the greatest of all-time Anderson Silva, who are all looking for another shot.

But with his best yet to come Whittaker figures to be at the top — or at least very near it — well into next decade.

He’s a complete fighter

The team behind the man known as “The Reaper” — or more recently “Bobby Knuckles” — received well-earned recognition during Sunday’s broadcast.

For the eighth fight in a row, Whittaker came in with a perfect gameplan and executed it to a tee.

His knockout power and submission skills have been evident since the very early days of his career, when his first nine wins all came inside the first round.

But Whittaker has improved with every showing — from the takedown defence Dana White describes as “ridiculous” to the diverse kicking game he used to take Souza’s head off and sap Romero’s energy.

Whittaker always comes prepared, has no obvious weaknesses — and most importantly is bloody exciting to watch. Five of his past seven purses have been topped up by fight of the night or performance of the night bonuses.

He doesn’t have to promote his next fight

Whittaker has already done a lot of the heavy lifting required to establish his career by overcoming two extremely dangerous opponents in Souza and Romero.



source/read more; http://www.news.com.au/sport/ufc/why-robert-whittaker-is-destined-to-become-one-of-australias-biggest-sports-stars/news-story

Ronda Rousey’s Mom makes a statement after UFC 207 loss to Amanda Nunes



1st Jan 2017

I have this to say about my daughter, Ronda

Like every mother and daughter on the face of the earth, Ronda and I don’t always see eye to eye. However, there is one situation where I am pretty certain.

All of those who have criticized Ronda for taking a loss so to heart, for not just ‘shrugging it off’ don’t understand that what made Ronda so successful is that she cares DEEPLY about winning to an extent that I don’t believe the average person can wrap his/her head around.

Caring deeply about something and working your hardest to achieve it doesn’t mean you make the right decisions 100% of the time. Wouldn’t it be a nicer world if it did?

Those of you who want to criticize Ronda, I just want to point out a few things. First of all, I know her better than you and she is a smart, kind, talented, generous, hard-working person.

Second, I’d like to list some of her accomplishments, and note that she isn’t yet 30 years old.

  • Junior World Judo Champion
  • Panamerican Games Judo Gold Medalist
  • First American woman in a decade to win a world cup in judo (and then she went on to win several more)
  • U.S. Open Gold Medalist
  • World Judo Championships Silver Medalist
  • Olympic Bronze Medalist
  • U.S. Senior National Champion
  • First UFC World Champion
  • First woman to make a million dollars in martial arts
  • Co-authored sports book of the year – My Fight/ Your Fight
  • Acted in three movies

That’s just a partial list, but let me suggest that someone who has been world level athlete in two sports, written a best seller, acted in movies and made millions of dollars, all before the age of 30 has a pretty darn good track record. On top of that, Ronda has been part of the USADA drug testing since she was 16 years old, never failed a drug test,  always paid her taxes, never been arrested, never been to rehab, has zero divorces, zero DUIs and zero children. While you might think that is to be expected, look how many celebrities (heck, look how many of your neighbors) can say that.

I am very proud of my daughter.

As my other wonderful daughter, Maria, told her ,

“We love you just as much 10 minutes after every fight as we did in the 10 minutes before.”

Edit: Since so many people asked me “What do you mean zero children? Children aren’t a bad thing.” I agree.  I have four. I meant that she did not have children before she was able and willing to raise them. 





Ronda Rousey Gets Immediate Rematch After UFC 207


21st Oct 2016

The UFC women’s bantamweight division gets the main event slot at UFC 207 on December 30, rounding out the year with a monstrous title fight. Returning after a year-long absence will be the pioneer of the division, Ronda Rousey, attempting to win back the belt from Amanda Nunes. After Holly Holm planted Rousey in Australian soil at UFC 193, the belt switched hands again at UFC 196. Miesha Tate choked out Holm in epic fashion this past March 5, but the travelling of the w-135 gold was not done yet.

Facing ‘Cupcake’ in the UFC 200 main event, Nunes brought the belt to Brazilian surroundings with a first round decimation of Tate. Now set to fight arguably the most dominant female fighter ever, certainly in UFC history, ‘The Lioness’ faces a career-defining opponent in ‘Rowdy.’ Although she’s not blasting Rousey with both barrels, Nunes has been frank in her opinion of the former champion.

Immediate Rematch

Recently saying she felt Ronda Rousey was ‘mentally weak,’ Nunes has now changed the tide somewhat. As per MMAJunkie.com, the women’s bantamweight queen says she will grant Rousey an immediate rematch after UFC 207:

“Ronda Rousey has every right to fight for the belt. She was dominant for a long time in this division and also, Ronda was one of the biggest pay-per-views ever sold. There’s no way to even explain it – of course she has the right to fight for the belt. She only lost once, and took some time off to rest. If you look at it on the internet, everyone is waiting for Ronda Rousey to return.

“Today, the UFC has women’s MMA because Rousey managed to change (UFC President) Dana White’s mind and put it in the UFC. I think she has the right to fight for the belt – not only once, but twice. I’ll beat her and give her a rematch right after that if she wants.”

Taking Advantage

Although Nunes clearly acknowledges the influence her opponent has on the sport, the Brazilian also points out multiple holes in Rousey’s game. ‘The Lioness’ feels that the longer the fight goes on, the more she’ll be able to take advantages of the mistakes Rousey will make:

“Ronda has all the holes,” Nunes said. “In her striking, in her ground game, and even her timing. The longer the fight goes, she loses her timing – and that’s where I grow. Every time she loses a position that she gets countered, through time her level drops. So all of this – I’m going to take advantage of that. I’m going to take advantage of all of her mistakes and try to finish the fight as soon as possible.”

Referring to Nunes’ previous comments on an immediate rematch, Cris Cyborg and Julianna Peña will likely be very upset if this happens. ‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ stated she’s considering leaving the UFC over the decision to give Rousey an immediate title shot. After years of feuding with ‘Rowdy,’ Cyborg was typically furious when the UFC 207 main event was announced. Showing many similarities to the situation with Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez, and the fallout with ‘The Eagle’ and Jose Aldo, is this a sure sign of things to come?

Perhaps this trend is just temporary, if not, get ready for a crazy year in 2017.