White shares thoughts on UFC 263, latest on Jon Jones, Paul vs. Mayweather fight
Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori will come full circle from their first meeting this Saturday when they clash in a rematch in the main event of UFC 263 with the middleweight title on the line.
The pair will fight in the same city and venue as their first meeting, Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., where Adesanya three years ago earned a split decision victory that kept his then undefeated record in tact and helped propel him towards his eventual title reign.
Neither man has lost in the middleweight division since that night and UFC president Dana White believes that much improved versions of both fighters will enter the Octagon in Saturday’s headliner.
“If you look at the first fight it was a very, very close fight; neither one of them are the same fighter, they’ve both gotten better,” White told TSN. “I expect an absolute war on Saturday night, I’m excited about this fight.”
While both men have maintained spotless records at 185 pounds, Adesanya does have a failed attempt to capture the light heavyweight title on his ledger. Though light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and Vettori do have comparable aspects to their game, White does not think any conclusions should be drawn from the middleweight champions’ loss in the 205-pound division.
“We can’t underestimate how hard it is to move up a weight class,” said White. “When you move up a weight class in this sport it’s not like moving up one or two pounds, these guys move up big weight. It’s very hard to do and you can’t judge this fight on his last fight.”
White was also quick to pour cold water on the idea that former middleweight champion and current No. 1 contender Robert Whittaker didn’t want to fight for the belt following his victory over Kelvin Gastelum in April.
“It’s not that Whittaker doesn’t want to fight Israel, he wants to fight Israel, he wants to get his shot at the title again,” said White. “Timing wise, Whittaker is one of these guys, when something is going on in his personal life that he has to deal with, he deals with it. A lot of other guys put personal stuff on the back burner to get in there and fight.”
“He’s the number one guy in the world, that’s not going to change during this fight and whoever wins, Whittaker will be next. But in no way, shape or form is Whittaker not trying to fight Israel Adesanya.”
Another middleweight fighter making headlines is recent title challenger Paulo Costa, who pulled out of his Aug. 21 fight with Jared Cannonier. Costa tweeted that the UFC needs to pay him “as main fighter to have fighting in main events.” and that “Youtubers are showing all disgrace on this business.”
White points out that his obligation is to offer Costa three fights a year that he does not have to accept if he doesn’t want to, and a little tongue-in-cheek career advice if he’d like to up his worth.
“Guess what? You should’ve started a YouTube channel when you were 13-years-old and built your name up and everything else and you could’ve had the fight on Saturday night, but you didn’t,” said White. “You’re not a YouTuber, you’re a fighter and this is what you do for a living. Or you don’t, it’s up to you. And you’re in no position to be talking about crazy money after your last performance.”
Costa’s performance that White is referring to is his one-sided loss at the hands of Adesanya.
As for the fight he could’ve had on Saturday, that would be the pay per view bout between undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather and YouTube star Logan Paul.
Both men are expected to cash multiple millions for the eight-round exhibition draw. White says these types of fights will always take place, but he won’t be promoting them.
“These guys figured out how to get people to pay $50 for it and good for them,” said White. “When you put on these kind of fights, there is always going to be a market for these type of fights. Imagine if Kim Kardashian wanted to fight Amanda Nunes, how big do you think that fight would be? It would be crazy.”
“There is always going to be market for those kinds of fights and if you can pull them off and get people to pay $50 for them, good for you. It’s not what I do, it’s not the business that I’m in.”