Dana White and UFC Vice President of Operations and Production Craig Borsai break down just what the plans are at the new UFC Apex.
Las Vegas, NV — Goodbye, TUF Gym. Hello UFC Apex. Dana White’s Contender Series is back tonight, and ahead of the first episode of the season — the show’s third — UFC President Dana White and Craig Borsari, UFC Vice President of Operations and Production, previewed the cutting edge facility that has been designed solely with fighting in mind.
Although, as it turns out, there’s a good chance that more than just fighting will be hosted at the UFC Apex.
The move has been, perhaps, a long time coming. “If you look back, in hindsight, I wish in 2007, 2008, 2009, when the economy crashed, I wish we bought a big piece of property and built something then. But we didn’t,” White told media outlets including Cageside Press on Tuesday. “Everything’s about timing. Right now’s the time and the place. With us going digital, with the initiative we have with UFC Fight Pass, now was the time for this. This was the perfect time.”
One of the main differences between the old and new facilities? “We own everything in here now. We didn’t at the old place,” revealed White.
Borsai pointed out that the new facility has 75,000lbs of rigging, with the ability to double that. LED lighting. And with full control over the venue, there’s the possibility for other productions, outside of the fight game. Battle Bots, comedy acts, and musical acts are all possibilities, Borsai suggested.
“Initially, that was not the intention, to make it a multi-purpose facility. It was all about fights, as Dana said. It just happened to be kind of stumbled upon, an opportunity,” explained the VP. “In Vegas, it’s pretty unique. Especially once the control room comes online. There’s really not a facility like this around here.”
“Plus even in L.A., there’s only like two or something like that,” White interjected. “They’re slammed busy in L.A.” Which has led to organizations like ATP Tennis considering utilizing the facility. Another possibility, smaller promotions doing shows at the APEX.
“We’ll hold boxing events here,” White revealed. “Think about this, right. Say you’ve got a bunch of fighters who are up-and-coming guys in Russia. We can put on a fight here, prime time in Russia, then turn this thing around again and do a boxing match three hours later. We can do anything here. Anything.”
When White said months ago that he’d reveal the future of fighting, the Apex was what he was referring to. “There’s never been a place that was built and designed for fighting. We can go to the nicest arenas in the world. The O2 in London. MSG, which they just redid the whole place. You can go right down the street to T-Mobile. None of them were designed for fighting,” he explained. “This place was built and designed for fighting. These young guys that come in tonight, throughout the rest of Contender Series, they’ll never fight in a nicer venue. One that’s actually laid out for fighting and thought of and deigned for fighting. You’ll see that with the warm-up rooms, the bathrooms, the showers, the extra warm-up space if we have bigger fights. Cut men. There’s a cut men room. Usually we’re in a room that they give us, and the cut man brings whatever is in his bag. This place will be stocked with everything that they need.”
One thing that won’t change: no music. At least for the Contender Series. Nor will the commentators be cageside. “It will be exactly the same [as the earlier seasons]. I love the style of the show right now, the way that it is. You don’t hear the commentators, none of that stuff.”
As for the public, a bit of a surprise. “People can come to these fights, people can come to these fights and this place can hold 1500 people,” White said. “We can make it bigger. Right now family and friends are coming to the fights but yeah, people can come to the fights.”
“We’re not even selling tickets.” So just when did that start? According to White, “Today. Five O’clock. Hopefully a bunch of people don’t show up, because we don’t have things set up.”
“I’ve never said the public couldn’t come see it,” he added. “I think the last season of the Contender Series, the thing was so popular and successful that, people used to show up all the time. I used to say ‘let ’em in. Let ’em in.'”