UFC rankings on the way, Rousey a headliner
UFC president Dana White, as is his custom, chatted with reporters ahead of a weekend card, this time about everything from the promotion's brand-new fighter rankings system to Ronda Rousey's debut at UFC 157 on Feb. 23. Here's the shorthand of what you need to know.
1. Fighter rankings: White announced the creation of a UFC fighter ranking system, a move he opposed for quite some time. The UFC joined with MMA statistics company FightMetrics to create the system. White says 90 media members will be invited to vote for fighters. "As the sport continues to grow and gets bigger and bigger and reaches out more into the mainstream, mainstream people understand numbers," White says. "It would be a lot easier for casual fans who are just getting into the UFC to kinda understand the sport a bit better." But don't expect UFC matchmakers to be beholden to the rankings. White says his team will still put together the fights people want to see most. The new poll debuts next Monday.
2. Kiss off, Couture: Earlier this week, SI.com colleague Loretta Hunt broke news that UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture joined the fledgling MMA promotion, Bellator. When asked about Couture's defection, White didn't mince words. "Randy Couture comes off as the greatest guy in the world, Captain America," he says. "He's the furthest thing from it. And I'm happy not to have to do business with him. Now I don't ever have to do business with him again."
3. ... And take Rampage Jackson with you: Couture's wasn't the only UFC legend leaving the company. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's defeat at the hands of Brazilian Glover Teixeira last week in Chicago marked the end of Jackon's UFC career. Let's just say that Jackson shouldn't wait for his gold watch for his service, at least not courtesy of White. "The reality is Rampage wasn't very nice on his way out," he says. "He's lost three fights in a row, which is no different than any other guy who would lose three, four, five fights in a row. The real situation here is Rampage doesn't want to be in business with us anymore. And Rampage is going out and saying stupid stuff like we lie about our pay-per-views. Any fighter who has a pay-per-view deal has audit rights. So if you really thought you were ripped off on your pay-per-view, wouldn't you be lawyering up right now and coming in with your audit team to come in and check the books?"
"Everything the guy says is complete bull," White said.
4. On a lighter note: The UFC president confirmed the promotion is investigating the possibility of a 115-pound division. The motive, White said, is global. "We eventually will [add the straw weight division] as move into Mexico and all these other Hispanic territories that we're going into. As we go into Asia," he says. "It will happen someday but we're not working on that this second."
5. What was that? White admitted to reporters he's not hearing clearly out of his left ear following surgery earlier this month to treat his Ménière's disease. White has suffered from the condition that can cause vertigo, intermittent hearing loss, the sensation of pressure in the ear and a ringing sound, for over a year. "The recovery process is a lot longer and a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be," he says. "Doctors drilled into my skull for roughly 25 minutes as part of the painful procedure."
6. Rousey as covergirl: White says the UFC has "not spent a dime or done anything to promote Ronda Rousey's fight" as of yet. But, given the amount of media attention she's garnering, he might not have to. "People can say whatever they want about her, people can say she shouldn't be headlining or whatever. I don't give a s--- if you're Royce Gracie, if you're Dan Henderson or [Lyoto] Machida, Tito [Ortiz], Chuck [Liddell], go through the laundry list of people who have been stars in this company, nobody in the history of this company will have more new media following them than Ronda Rousey will. ... If you would have told me a year ago that a female athlete would get that kind of coverage, I would have said you're out of your mind. And if they did, it would be a freak-show story. And it's far from a freak-show." White cites her inclusion in Time magazine, a feature on HBO's Real Sports, and an appearance on Forbes "30 Under 30" sports list. Should we be offended White didn't mention Rousey's landmark appearance in SI last fall?
7. Super Bowl picks: White, a devoted NFL fan, makes his pick. "San Francisco is going to win but I'd love to see Ray [Lewis] win [another] one before he retires."