November 13, 2011
UFC president Dana White had to know what was coming.
A 64-second knockout of Cain Velasquez by Junior dos Santos in the one-fight UFC debut on Fox was going to draw strong reaction from both ends of the spectrum.
But 30 minutes after the Fox show ended, the UFC president had already heard enough negativity and seen too many critical comments on Twitter.
So White lashed out during the UFC on Fox postfight press conference.
"For anyone to [expletive] about this fight because they didn't get to see [this fight or] that fight ... shut up! You should've bought tickets if you wanted to see all the fights," White said. "And you don't like to watch them on Facebook? Seriously, shut up."
"Every weirdo comes from everywhere, [talking] about how bad fighting is and joining the 'Coalition of I Have Nothing Better To Do With My Life,'" said White. "These are the stories we have to tell to mainstream America. Because most of us in this room live in this bubble called MMA. It's a world of triangle chokes and arm bars, all the [expletive] people have never heard of. They don't understand it. They don't know what it is. We have to ease people into this, so that's what we did tonight."
White said it was also important to expose the new fans to the kind of fighters featured in the heavyweight title fight. Junior dos Santos grew up in a poor city in Brazil but never turned to crime. Instead, he sold ice cream and newspapers as a kid and turned to fighting for discipline. Velasquez, a first generation American from Mexican immigrants, eventually made his way from junior college to Arizona State, where he earned a degree in education.
"We have to educate people. We had to show features about these two guys tonight. They're two great athletes. They're two great human beings," White said. "We explained what this sport is and who these people are who are involved in it. They're not what you think they are."
At the end of the press conference when White had cooled down a bit he made sure to thank the media in attendance who've covered the sport since it's infancy.
"I want to thank of all you guys, the guys who've been around for a long time. [You've been] working hard in the sport, just as hard as we have. Going to podunk here and there and on the same travel schedule we're on. I appreciate you very much."
One can assume he was also talking about the fans who helped to turn the sport from an Internet sensation to one that truly arrived on the U.S. sport scene on network TV on a Saturday night.
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