The UFC President tackles front kicks and unions while facing the same 10 questions we always ask everyone!
Photo by Buda Mendes/ Getty
You have Benson Henderson defending his lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez on Saturday (Fox, 8PM ET) – who’s your money on?
I have no idea. I don’t ever make predictions, but here’s what I believe: I believe that in this fight, stylistically, both guys match up very well. Many people believe that Melendez is the best 155-pounder in the world, and has been for a long time, so on Saturday he’s going to get the opportunity to prove it.
So you’ve really never made a bet on one of your guys? Not even secretly?
If I ever do, I’ve never said it!
You guys are working on making MMA legal in New York. Do you see New York as having an in-built audience for UFC?
Oh yeah, there’s no doubt about it. You know why we’re not there, right? It’s not even a law. It’s the Las Vegas Culinary Union.
It’s the Las Vegas Culinary Union that’s keeping us out of New York City. My partners, the Fertitta Brothers, they own the fifth largest gaming company in the country, based in Las Vegas, and they’re non-union. So the Las Vegas Culinary Union is using its muscle in New York to keep us out, and they write letters to all the senators out there, they write letters to sponsors and television networks and all these other people. Do you see them writing any letters to the MGM grand? Do you see them writing any letters to Mandalay Bay, or any other place in Vegas? No, because we kill it here in Las Vegas, and the city makes a ton of money. It’s great for Las Vegas, but not for New York. And every other city in this country.
You would think that people wouldn’t want to mess with a company that specializes in highly trained fighters.
Well, these culinary unions are gangsters anyway, so what do they care?
Something we’ve always wondered from watching UFC – are you a fan of pro-wrestling?
I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of it, but I wouldn’t say that I dislike it.
It seems like you’ve appropriated some of its showmanship.
It has tons of showmanship, but it’s fake, you know? And if you look at boxing, boxing is real but doesn’t have a whole lot of showmanship. The UFC is real and it has tons of entertainment value.
Within the last six months, you guys have begun including female fighters on your cards. What prompted that decision?
A girl named Ronda Rousey! She was an Olympic medalist in Judo and has been on a tear, and she caught my attention.
And how’s that been working out for you guys?
Not bad at all!
Do you think MMA could ever become an Olympic sport?
Yeah, of course. I think we’ve done a lot of work to educate the Olympic committee, although it’s just not something that I’m out trying to do. I have enough stuff to do!
Could you see yourself being a spokesman for it if it happened?
With the financial times that we’re in right now, it’s about generating revenue, and if you look at our sport, obviously people know how exciting it is and what a draw it is. If you were an Olympic committee and you wanted to bring in an exciting sport with great athletes that draws well on television and live, I think you’d be crazy not to look at the UFC or MMA.
Do you have a favorite fighter of all time?
Yeah, in boxing it would be Mike Tyson. In mixed martial arts, it would be Anderson Silva. They both go in there to finish fights - they go in there to completely dominate and destroy their opponents.
And what about from the current crop of fighters?
There’s a kid out of Ireland, his name is Connor McGregor. It was his first fight in the UFC, big hype over this guy, the entire country’s going crazy for him. He gets his first fight in the UFC and he wins, and he wins the bonus - you know, we have “Knockout”, “Submission”, and “Fight of the night” - and it’s $60,000. So at the press conference, they said, “What are you going to do now that you won the $60,000?” He says, “I’m going back to Ireland and I’m going to tell welfare to fuck off.” He’s awesome. He’s my new favorite up and coming guy.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen happen in the octagon?
When Anderson Silva kicked Vitor Belfort with a front kick. It was the first time it had ever been done. Anderson Silva does things to people that other people can’t do.
What was your reaction when you saw that?
The same as everybody else in the arena! It was one for those “holy shit” moments, where everybody just jumped up at the same time and said, “Holy Shit!” you know? And everybody was looking at each other with their jaws open.
What makes a great fighter?
A great fighter is a guy who was literally born to fight. And when I say that, I mean, no matter what happens in their life, they know that that’s what they’re meant to do and it’s their one focus and it’s all they care about and they sacrifice, they work hard, they do everything it takes to make it.
Do you ever miss the early days of UFC, before MMA was even considered a fighting style, when you’d have, say, a sumo wrestler go up against a kick boxer?
Not at all. That was part of the evolution - at one point, they wanted to see which style was the best. But no one’s style is the best, you’ve got to have a little piece of everything to be a complete fighter.
Do you have any advice for guys who are just starting to get into the MMA world right now?
You know, there’s lots of smaller shows out there, so get out there, get some experience, and hopefully try to get on the Ultimate Fighter when your weight class is up.
For guys that are trying to get into the business and failing, what do you think they’re doing wrong?
They probably suck.
Photo by Jim Donnelly /Landov
What was the last thing you had to apologize for?
The last thing I had to apologize for was saying the F-word, and I’m not talking about “fuck”. I wanted to apologize to the gay and lesbian community. I’m the furthest thing from a homophobe.
What’s your favorite curse word?
Fuck. Fuck is my favorite word. I love it. I fucking love it.
What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?
Oh my God, I’m such a puss. Every time I drink, I get the worst hangover I’ve ever had. I’m one of these guys where I’ll go blow off some steam and I’ll drink and I’ll have a two-day hangover and I won’t drink for a couple weeks.
What was your first car?
My first car was a Jeep, you know, with the roll bars and everything - a big, nasty 1970s jeep. The thing was a piece of shit, it broke down every other day.
Do you still have it?
No, thank God. Every car I had when I was younger, we didn’t have any money, so every car I had was a piece of shit. Now it’s nice driving cars that don’t break down all the time.
Do you have a scar that tells a story?
Yeah, I got a scar right on my lower back. When I was a little kid, I had bunk beds and I fell off one night. You remember those metal radiator heaters? I landed on that thing and that scar stayed with me forever.
Do you have a party trick?
A party trick? You mean a trick that I do every time I’m drinking? No. Thank God I don’t. When I’m drinking I don’t do any of that shit. If you are ever out with me, and you see me dancing, get me in a taxi and send me home, because I’m way too drunk. I don’t do any crazy shit when I drink. I just kick back, have a good time, laugh, you know, hang out with friends. I don’t do anything, no tricks.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
Hahaha, that is fucking funny, man! I don’t even know how to answer this question! I would have to say it would have to be a fucking ice cream or something. Actually no, I do know the answer to this question - Carnegie Deli in New York, one of those sandwiches. Trying to stuff that thing in my mouth, that was the biggest thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.
What’s the one thing to remember in a fistfight?
The first thing to remember in a street fight is, there are no rules.
What about if you’re in the octagon? What should guys not forget?
Who was the last person to see you naked?
That would be my wife.
Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…
I would dismantle the Las Vegas Culinary Union.