Less than a week ago, UFC president Dana White was starting to question why he would bring his show to Boston after all the hoops and hurdles that his company faced in pulling off UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen on Saturday night at the TD Garden.
When asked if the issues the company had to deal with affected his thinking about returning, he couldn’t deny it.
“I’d be a liar if I said no,” White said during a Monday conference call promoting the event.
But after persevering and pulling off what was a success at that box office and in the TV ratings – Shogun vs. Sonnen served as prime time launch programming for the new Fox Sports 1 network – White has changed his tune a bit.
UFC Fight Night 26 drew a live audience of 12,539 for gate receipts totaling $1.53 million. The telecast on Fox Sports 1 pulled in 1.78 million viewers, well above the 1.29 million viewer average for comparable fight night event on FX.
Now White is ready to return to Boston.
“I love this city. It's a great city. It's a great sports town,” he declared at the post-fight press conference. “All the things that were said this week leading up to this fight, I wasn't talking about the athletic commission here.”
He was talking about a certain union faction and a certain politician, but now actually credits a modicum of the event’s success to those folks that tried to trip him up.
The Culinary Union is waging war on UFC co-owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta’s other business, the non-union Station Casinos in Nevada, and is trying to force the Fertitta brothers’ hand by attacking the UFC. The Boston politician in question is city council president Steven Murphy.
The Union filed various complaints from trying to trip up Chael Sonnen’s participation to trying to ban minors from attending the show. Although he denied knowing anything about the union, Murphy fell in line, backing the campaign to ban minors.
White last week sounded rather frustrated in having to deal with the headaches the Union and Murphy hurled his direction, but after a successful event, he’s throwing a little credit their way.
“I love when these guys come out and do stuff like this. My media schedule got even bigger. And it didn't just last one day, it lasted four days,” said White of the effect the Union and Murphy had on the attention the event garnered.
“These guys, they come in and they do stuff like this and it just makes everything bigger. People that wouldn't cover us here for this fight, everybody covered this fight because of what Commissioner Knucklehead was doing. This guy comes out and was doing what he was doing and it created a lot more awareness for the UFC,” he continued.
“Everybody that I came into contact with here in Boston had heard about what was going on. Then you know we're in town.
“So, I would just like to thank all my friends at the union for really helping us with the PR push this week,” White's Cheshire grin widening as he spoke. “It was a huge success and I can't thank you all enough.”