The Best of Dana White on the Joe Rogan Podcast: From Liddell to Ortiz to Tyson

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IFebruary 25, 2013

Dec 29, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC president Dana White speaks during post fight press conference at UFC 155 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Rogan is known for not only being the color commentator voice for UFC broadcasts, but he also hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the world, "The Joe Rogan Experience."

Late last week with the UFC in Anaheim, just minutes away from Rogan's studio in Los Angeles, it was a perfect time for the comedian's two worlds to collide when he welcomed UFC President Dana White.

White joined the podcast for over two hours, telling stories from the early days of when Zuffa purchased the UFC to the latest happenings in the sport going into last weekend's UFC 157 card.

Here are the highlights from White's appearance on the show and if you'd like to watch the show, tune in here.

Why Doesn't the UFC Play "The Star-Spangled Banner" Before Fights?

When Dana White and the Fertitta brothers invested and purchased the UFC back in 2001, they put a lot of effort into re-launching the failing brand that found the sport of mixed martial arts banned in numerous states all over the country.

For UFC 33: Victory in Vegas, the promotion pulled out all the stops to put on a huge show to help bring the sport back into the spotlight.

They stacked the card with three title fights including Tito Ortiz, who had become the face of the UFC, as well as future champion and star Chuck Liddell who fought on the undercard that night. 

What proceeded to happen was an epic failure for the event, with every fight on the televised card going to decision, which led to the show running over its allotted time on pay-per-view, so many fans missed out on even seeing the entire main event.

"Every fight sucked and then we went over on the pay-per-view.  I'm a pretty upbeat person, I don't get depressed. I was seriously thinking about f—king killing myself that night," White said talking about UFC 33.

Like most major sporting events, the UFC kicked off the night by playing a rendition of the "The Star-Spangled Banner."  Unfortunately after the event unfolded in disastrous fashion, White let superstition get the best of him and said never again after that night.

"We did it that night, and I completely f—king blame that.  That's why it happened because of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,'" White said with a laugh.

The Early Days of Big Fighter Entrances on the Ramp

If you watched any of the early Zuffa-era UFC events, one of the biggest differences between then and now were the splashy, loud entrances fighters used to have walking down a giant ramp way complete with big explosions and fiery pyrotechnics.   The fighter walkouts were essentially something akin to a WWE show.

Eventually, the ramp went away and the fighters now do a more traditional walkout with their coaches and trainers down a tunnel leading out into the arena. 

The reason why the UFC had the ramp in the first place may surprise you.  It had nothing to do with putting on a grander show or making an impact when a fighter first appeared. Nope, it was only because they couldn’t fill the seats in the arena.

"Because we didn't sell that many tickets back then," White explained.   "You could cut off a quarter of the building. That's how you made the place look full back then."

Another Reason the Ramp Had to Go

Making an arena look full was the reason the UFC had the ramp and the flashy entrances in the first place, and as ticket sales increased, the need for the space filler was no longer necessary.

It also doesn't help when the pyrotechnics almost set your light heavyweight champion ablaze.

"We almost lit Tito (Ortiz) on fire in the Meadowlands," said White.

Needless to say, over time, the ramp and the pyrotechnics were gone from UFC broadcasts forever.

Dana's Ongoing Battle with Meniere's Disease

UFC president Dana White has had a very public battle lately with his health after revealing that he suffered from the effects of Meniere's disease.

The inner-ear disorder got so bad that White had to miss a UFC event for the first time ever in 2012 before finally having surgery to try to make it easier to deal with the crippling affliction.  White even documented the surgery during one of his famous video blogs, taking fans inside the operating room while he went under the knife.

As White revealed when talking to Rogan, the bad news is the surgery (which he said before had only had a 70-percent success rate) failed and his attacks have gotten even worse lately.

"There's no cure for it, but they have these real controversial surgeries that you can go in and do.  I'm a f—king lunatic so I'm like I don't give a sh-t, I'm getting this surgery.  I just went in yesterday, this was my first follow-up and the f—king surgery was a complete disaster.  That's why I've been so f—ked up lately," White stated.

According to the UFC president, the only other surgical option is to actually have the nerve in his ear severed and repaired, but that would result in him having to learn how to walk all over again.  He's already lost most of the hearing in his damaged ear, but right now he's just trying to deal with the attacks day by day.

Anderson Silva's Retirement and a Dream Match with Jon Jones

There may not be a bigger fan of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva than his boss Dana White.

He speaks often about the incredible things that Silva does in the cage, and while they are still negotiating to re-sign the champ to a brand new 10-fight deal, at 37 years of age, he knows the champion's days in the UFC are numbered.

"I dread the day that guy retires," White said about Silva.

There has been non-stop talk about Silva being involved in some sort of UFC super fight in 2013, and the two biggest names for potential opponents are either UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre or light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

No deal is done or even close to being completed to make either fight a reality, but White seems to have a preference on which one he'd like to see.

"I have to make him and f—king (Jon) Jones happen," White said about the potential super fight.   "I have to make that happen. That's the one fight (I have to make)."

The Party Life of Chuck Liddell

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell was the most recognizable name in the sport of MMA for several years.  His jaw-shattering knockouts were the stuff of highlight-reel legend, and he was by all accounts the face of the UFC for quite some time.

Eventually, however, time and fighting caught up with Liddell, and the former champion petered out at the tail end of his career, going 1-5 over his final six fights with the UFC.

Dana White was with Liddell every step of the way through his career because before he was the president of the promotion, he was Liddell's manager in the fight business.

As legendary as Liddell was at the time, White says his after-hours routine may have cost him a few additional fights or even wins.

"Partying kills fighters. I saw it happen to Chuck (Liddell)," White said.   "The whole Chuck Liddell era, when Chuck beat Tito (Ortiz) that night it was crazy.  After his fights, everybody wanted a piece of that guy, it was insane."

White admits that he saw Liddell's night life get the best of him in a fight, however, especially at UFC 43 when he lost to fellow UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture.

"The night before he fought Couture, it's like 2:30 in the morning at the Hard Rock and I'm walking through the Hard Rock and he's f—king there at the Hard Rock.  I go 'what the f—k are you doing?  Why are you here?'. It was just such a given that he was going to win this fight and then boom," said White.

Liddell lost the fight to Couture by TKO in the third round the next night.

The Best of the Rest

Dana has become close friends with former boxing champion Mike Tyson over the years, and will actually be making a cameo appearance in his new reality show that begins filming in 2013.

It was revealed that Fedor Emelianenko's manager and M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelstein recently attended the UFC on Fuel 7 show in England.  White said he had no idea he was there, and obviously he attended just as a fan.

When Chuck Liddell first signed with the UFC, he fought for $2000 to fight, and $2000 to win. (Liddell's final fight at UFC 115 paid him $500,000).

Dana White's sons both play football, but he says with all of the injuries and damage football players go through in life, he'd rather they did mixed martial arts.

It's a well known fact that Dana White is a regular in the Las Vegas gambling scene.  Rogan asked the UFC President about his biggest loss in a single night and his answer: "A million bucks."  His biggest single-night win was $6 million.

Beyond being the head of the biggest MMA promotion in the world, White is a lifetime fan of boxing and has attended many major fight cards over the years.  One interesting show that White attended happened in 1996, long before he was an owner of the UFC.

White was at the Mike Tyson/Bruce Seldon fight card in Las Vegas: the scene where hours later, rapper Tupac Shakur was gunned down and killed in his car.  The mayhem that happened before, during and after the fight was something White couldn't even believe.  As bad as the reports were about the insanity, White says it was much worse.

"They didn't report how bad it really was," said White.   "People were f—king grabbing chips off the table, people were jumping on top of the tables.  People were just going f—king crazy."

To check out Dana White's entire appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, check out the link here or to listen go to Rogan's website for a listing of his podcast.

Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report


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