Fans may push UFC prez to jump

NEIL SPRINGER, SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 7:50 PM ET

LAS VEGAS -- Tell your friends: if you want to see UFC president Dana White jump from the top of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, buy UFC 100.

Following the UFC 100 press conference, the outspoken MMA figurehead told a group of reporters he would go through with the stunt if the company achieves 1.5 million pay-per-view buys Saturday night.

"Let me tell you what – if we do 1.5 million buys, I will do a backflip off the Mandalay Bay and I'll live, believe me," White said laughing. "1.5 million buys – I'll jump. I'll BASE jump off the Mandalay Bay. I promise."

This could just be a load of bull on White's part, but the projected number of pay-per-views buys for the UFC's milestone event at the Mandalay Bay isn't too far off.

"By all the polling that we've done, pre-buys, UFC.com hits -- we have a whole formula where we can tell how many buys we're going to get -- we're at over a million," White said. "We're in the worst economic disaster in history. For us to do a million pay-per-view buys, or anywhere near it, is amazing."

Amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.

For a sport that wasn't even on pay-per-view a few years ago, this type of progress is almost unheard of. White said it was only a matter of time before people would watch mixed martial arts for the first time and get hooked.

"MMA is the most exciting live sport," White said. "I always believed in this thing and thought that we could get here. You never know if the timing's right or if everything is going to click, but thank God it did."

UFC 100 is the biggest show in the company's history. The event will be seen live in 51 countries and another 24 on tape delay. It will also be the first UFC card shown in both China and Mexico.

In the lead up to the event, White has had a number of media outlets attempt to get him to delve into the past. But that's just not his style.

"This week, doing all the press stuff, everyone's trying to get me nostalgic," White said. "I'm one of these guys – I don't look backwards, I only look forwards.

"I do remember the beginnings when nobody gave a s***. It wasn't even on television or pay-per-view and nobody wanted to watch it. So (UFC 100 is) pretty cool."

In 2001, White and the Fertitta brothers, Lorenzo and Frank, bought the UFC from struggling SEG Sports for US$2 million. The first event promoted by the new company was UFC 30 from the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J.

After getting MMA back on pay-per-view, the next step was to tackle Las Vegas, a move that initially blew up in White's face.

"The first show we did in Las Vegas was (at the Mandalay Bay)," White said. "That show sucked – UFC 33. Every fight went to a decision.

"I can count on one hand the number of bad shows we've had and that's because of (the fighters). Every night they come out and deliver."

Following its disastrous Vegas debut, where many cable companies cut the show off during the Tito Ortiz-Vladimir Matyushenko main event due to the show running long, the UFC rejigged its pay-per-view formula. The number of broadcast fights was reduced to five and the number of title fights was kept below three.

The company moved forward for a number of years, gradually increasing its fan base. However, it wasn't until it first aired The Ultimate Fighter reality show – and the epic battle between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar in the season finale – that MMA truly took off in the United States.

Though White will sit back and revel in UFC 100 on fight night, he's not getting too comfortable.

"As big as this thing is, there's so much more work to do," White said. "We're trying to build a sport that plays by the same rules all over the world, in every country. We continue to grow, educate and deliver the sport to more and more people.

"I don't ever want to look back because to me we're not there yet. We're not even close to being there yet."


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