Dana White more than bullish on UFC’s Mexico future after P.I. opening

MEXICO CITY – Now that the UFC finally has its oft-discussed Performance Institute in Mexico, Dana White thinks it is the start of a game-changer for the promotion and country.

UFC CEO White cut the ribbon for the new P.I. in Mexico City this past week ahead of UFC Fight Night 237, which marked the promotion’s first trip to Mexico since before the 2020 pandemic. White said COVID-19 threw some wrenches into the works and delayed things, but now that the facility is open, he thinks big things will continue to happen for Mexican MMA fighters shooting for the UFC.

“There’s going to be a combine there and we’re going to decide which guys we’re going to keep to train there at the Performance Institute,” White said after UFC Fight Night 237 on Saturday at Mexico City Arena. “But the other thing that we’re going to do is look for people that we think have potential to break into the top 10 or potentially be world champions someday, just like we did with the the other program that we built before the Performance Institute here in Mexico.

“The other thing that I’m excited about with it is the work that it’s going to do in the community to bring kids in off the streets and have the opportunity to learn how to train, learn how to do jiu-jitsu, wrestle, box, muay Thai, nutrition, strength and conditioning – it’s going to do a lot of good things for a lot of young people in the community here in Mexico City.”

The UFC’s Performance Institute in its home base of Las Vegas has become a crucial facility for many of the promotion’s fighters. A normal UFC fight week in recent years typically features several fighters talking about their training experiences at the P.I.

Now fighters in Mexico will have that same opportunity for high-level development in their own country, where the sport has grown by leaps and bounds in a culture that has thrived on its love of boxing for generations.

“When you think about when we started and what we faced going head-to-head with boxing, which was so ingrained in our culture – I was driving to the arena the other day. There’s this huge playground – swings, things that spin around, and a boxing ring in the middle of the playground. Like a little kid playground. That tells you how crazy it is for us to be down here and doing what we’re doing (with boxing so big). There’s still a lot of work to do down here. This is just the beginning.”

In Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 237 main event, former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno, from Mexico, was upset by recent title challenger Brandon Royval. In the co-feature, two-time title challenger Brian Ortega returned from a 19-month layoff and upset former interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez.

Mexico City Arena filled in early in the night and by most accounts was one of the UFC’s most raucous and energetic crowds of recent memory. If the P.I. opening does what White hopes, Mexican fans can plan on a surge of the UFC there.

“With the opening of the P.I., we have huge plans for Mexico – and it’s not just Mexico City,” White said. “I want to go all over Mexico. … The UFC is officially here in Mexico now. We actually planted a flag here. We have a our own building here now. We have our facility. We’re going to be doing a lot in this country now. We’re here.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 237.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie