UFC President Dana White Dishes On What It Takes To Be A Champ, Bringing It Back To Boston And The Future Of The UFC

It has been nearly eight years since the UFC has been in Boston, but Dana White is back in town and couldn’t be more excited. This weekend, UFC 220 will be headlining the TD Garden Saturday night when two long-awaited championship pay-per-view fights get underway at 10 p.m.

The title fights on Saturday will feature UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic working to defend his title against No. 1 UFC heavyweight and knockout artist Francis Ngannou; and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier will defend his belt against No. 2 UFC Light Heavyweight Volkan Oezdemir.

UFCPhoto Credit: UFC

We caught up recently with UFC President Dana White to find what it takes to be a champ, why he decided to bring it back to Boston and the future of UFC.

When you bought the UFC back in 2001 with your two friends, did you ever think it would turn into the multi-billion-dollar empire it is today?

I did believe it had the potential to be global and that’s why we knew we had to take a chance.

Dana WhitePhoto Credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

There were a few years of struggle after you purchased the UFC. When did you realize you had made the right decision in buying the organization?

The first season of The Ultimate Fighter. That first night, I knew it was going to work.

What do you think it takes for a fighter to become the next biggest star?

The only thing that matters is if you can fight. I call Conor McGregor a unicorn. The first time I met him, the kid had an amazing personality. I thought if he can throw a punch, he will be a superstar. The whole Irish thing was a lot of fun as well because everyone here thinks they’re Irish (laughs). I’m Irish and being Irish is so fun.

Conor McGregorPhoto Credit: UFC

Speaking of Irish, you lived in Southie and taught boxing classes at a small gym before moving to Vegas. If Whitey’s sidekick Kevin Weeks didn’t come banging on your door for $2,500 that you didn’t have, do you think you would have stayed in Boston?

If things hadn’t gone down that way, yes absolutely. Everything in life though is all about timing. It was crazy how it all happened.

After a two-year hiatus, why did you decide to bring it back to Boston for UFC 220?

The timing just worked out with the arena (TD Garden). I am so excited to be back in Boston this weekend. The Bruins are playing tonight. The Celtics are playing tomorrow. We have the UFC Saturday night and the AFC game with the Patriots on Sunday. I might not sleep the entire weekend!  I have been pumped for this weekend for a long time. I am going to Southie for some steak tips and then head over to Faneuil Hall and wreck it at Boston Chowda. It’s really going to be an incredible weekend in Boston sports.

Conor McGregorPhoto Credit: UFC

Everyone wants to know when Conor McGregor is coming back in the ring.

I have been in talks with Conor and he he wants to come back in September.

What do you think has been the greatest fight in UFC history?

That would be tough not to say Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, but I would have to say Conor McGregor at Madison Square Garden.

Dana White and Ronda RouseyPhoto Credit: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

You decided to take a chance in signing on Ronda Rousey back in 2012 as the first female fighter. Is that the fastest growing division of the UFC?

Definitely. What Ronda has done to move the sport forward and what she has done for women in general is just incredible.

What do you think is the future of UFC?

We are continuing to grow the sport in the U.S. We are working in Russia and have done a fight in Korea and will continue there. In Brazil, soccer is the number one sport, and we are number two. In Australia, we have an event next month that is already sold out. We will continue to work until it is all over the world.

Do you think in your lifetime you will ever see a woman fight a man?

I hope not. It has been done in tennis and other sports. That’s not to say a woman couldn’t beat a man, but it’s one of those things that should probably never happen.