UFC president Dana White visited with "Boston Sports Live" Tuesday to talk all things UFC and preview Saturday’s fight card as the most prestigious MMA league returns to Boston this weekend.
The UFC is planning a series of events, beginning Tuesday, to lead up to Fight Night 26, the first UFC event in Boston in three years.
“This is an important city to me," said White. "I love this place, I spent many years here, I have a lot of friends and family here, I am happy to be back.
"You think about where we started, we weren't allowed on pay-per-view, and now the fact that we are on Fox and have a deal with Fox, that they’re launching their new sports network with the UFC, means a lot to me.”
The main event on Saturday's card, which will mark the debut of the Fox Sports 1 network, is Mauricio “Shogun” Rua taking on Chael Sonnen. Rua will be fighting for the first time since his December 2012 loss to Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson, while Sonnen is looking to bounce back from back-to-back TKOs at the hands of Anderson Silva and Jon “Bones” Jones.
Rua, a 31-year-old Brazilian, comes into the fight with a record of 21-7-0, including 10 TKOs in his last 22 fights. Sonnen, a 36-year-old American, holds a record of 28-13-1.
“One of the things that makes this such a fun fight is they’re both aggressive fighters, they are both going to move forward with completely different styles,” White said. “In no way shape or form is Chael going to want to stand up too long with Shogun.
"Shogun’s muay thai is nasty and he has been working with Freddie Roach on punching [and] increasing his punching power, which is scary because the guy hit like a truck before, and now Freddie Roach says he hits even harder. So Chael is going to want to get in there, he’s gonna want to take him down and rough him up on the ground and win the fight there.”
White also spoke about a bill in the works in Congress that could ban people under 18 from attending events such as UFC fights without adult supervision.
“It’s ridiculous," said White. "This is a sporting event, just like any other sporting event.
"You see what goes on there at the Red Sox-Yankees games, the things that are said in front of children, the fights that break out in front of kids, and that’s real violence. That’s two people fighting because one guy has one jersey on and another has another jersey on.
“When you come to a UFC event, there is no atmosphere like that at all. I’d like someone to tell me where there is more sportsmanship displayed than in the UFC. These guys go in there and fight each other, and after they are hugging and congratulating each other whether they win or lose.
“It’s these politicians who try to jump up on a soap box and act like they’re doing something. You’re not helping society by saying that someone 18 and under can’t go to a sporting event. These politicians are becoming worse and worse at the things that they try to battle and the things that they try to do.”
On Tuesday, the first event counting down to Fight Night 26 takes place when Irish featherweight Conor McGregor holds an open-to-the-public workout at Peter Welch’s Gym in South Boston at 3 p.m. McGregor will be taking on Max Holloway in a preliminary bout Saturday.
“[McGregor] is the man in Ireland, he is the new big thing coming out of Ireland,” White said. “This kid has got a great personality, and I love his mentality about fighting: He likes to come in and he likes to finish people.”
On Wednesday, the UFC will hold open workouts at TD Garden from 1-3 p.m. At 7 p.m., there will be a charity dinner to benefit the Shawn Thornton Foundation featuring White, UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin, and an appearance by UFC Octagon Girls.
The Fight Night press conference, featuring all of the premier fighters, with White hosting, will be Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Wang Theater.
The official weigh-ins will be Friday at TD Garden at approximately 4 p.m.
Other bouts on the card include Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem; Iuri Alcantara vs. Urijah Faber; Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle; Uriah Hall vs. John Howard; and Michael “The Menace” Johnson vs. Joe Lauzon.
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer