Following the latest installment of the Contender Series, Dana White tackled Jones vs. Cormier 3, and said he won’t argue with two of the greatest ever on what weight class it should take place at.
Las Vegas, NV — Three contracts, one developmental deal. That’s the latest tally from Dana White’s Contender Series, which was back in action on Tuesday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. But that was far from the only subjects tackled following the fights this week. Also under discussion, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, and what weight a potential third fight might be at. And a new generation of fighter coming up, full of UFC dreams.
UFC President Dana White tackled those subjects and more with media outlets including Cageside press following the Contender Series Season 3 Week 8.
“It’s something that Lorenzo and I used to talk about,” White said, regarding fighters dreaming of getting into the promotion from an early age. Tony Gravely, who earned a contract Tuesday, was one of those. “The key in the early days was to get back on television. Because once you get on television, that’s when dads and uncles and brothers are watching the big fights, and little kids get caught up in the energy, because there’s nothing like the energy of a fight, and people who are fight fans watching fights. That’s what ends up creating fighters. And The Ultimate Fighter too I think.”
White has always been supportive of the show he credits with saving the UFC over a decade ago. And he was quick to plug it again on Tuesday. “If you listen to interviews with fighters, or you talk to fans, that say they got into the UFC, it was because of The Ultimate Fighter. So many people say that.”
What retains them as fans are compelling fights. And the biggest one looming is Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 3. Jones once again holds light heavyweight gold, while rival Cormier has the heavyweight title. He’ll defend that against Stipe Miocic this weekend at UFC 241, but after that, many are hoping to see the trilogy completed.
“I think that, I’ve been asked many times about that fight. Do I think that fight needs to happen? I don’t,” admitted White. “But do I think it should, and do I think people want it? Absolutely.”
Jones, of course, won the pair’s first meeting by unanimous decision in 2015. He would have had a second win over D.C., but his fight with Cormier at UFC 214 in 2017 was overturned to a no contest when Jones failed a drug test. Jones was later stripped of the title, but would go on to win the vacant light heavyweight belt upon his return to action late last year.
“I want that fight at heavyweight so bad, they won’t— not only has Jon said no, Cormier has said no,” White said in regards to the weight class he wants the fight to be contested at. Reason being, “because Cormier doesn’t want to beat him at heavyweight, and then— I was just like ‘if you beat him at heavyweight you can fight him at 205.’ I’d probably watch that fight ten times if the guys want to fight ten times.”
Essentially, Cormier doesn’t want weight class to become an excuse. In any case, said White, “they won’t do it.” Which is fine with him. “I’ve got Jon Jones, who is the greatest ever. You’ve got Cormier, also one of the greatest ever. Both been champions forever. I’m not going to f*cking fight with them. If they want to fight at 205, I’m not going to argue with them. Two of the biggest kings ever in the history of the sport. If that’s what they want, that’s what they get.”
Time will tell if the fight ever does happen. However, a number did happen on Tuesday. Some impressed White more than others. Despite the dearth of talent at 205lbs in the UFC, Julius Anglickas vs. Karl Reed, the night’s featured fight, didn’t win him over. Anglickas won the fight with a third round submission.
“I said it earlier, Reed was tired in the fist round,” White pointed out. “You should know by now, when you come here, go for broke, man. And if you don’t feel like it, go for broke.”
On commentary, White noted, “even Bisping was like, ‘are they serious right now?’ They’ll go back and watch the tape and realize what they did wrong.
Other fights did impress, resulting in Brok Weaver, Tony Gravely and Sarah Alpar earning UFC deals. The Gravely fight, against Ray Rodriguez, was especially impressive. “Two guys that are super experienced, and have won titles on the smaller shows, and finally get this opportunity on the big stage. And you get a guy who finishes a guy who’s never been KO’d or TKO’d in twenty fights. It was an impressive fight for both guys. I loved that fight,” said White.
As for Sarah Alpar, “I like her style, I like the way she takes risks,” White stated. But size may be an issue. “I think she needs to drop a weight class. I think that in the UFC, her at 135lbs — you guys have all seen Amanda Nunes and some of these girls at 35 in the UFC. They’re big.”
You can get away with fighting up a weight class in other shows, White noted. But not in the UFC, so he’s aiming to have Alpar head over to the UFC PI, something he called a “game changer.”
Another name who didn’t earn a contract, but still came out on top, was William Knight. He earned himself a developmental deal after a third round finish. Because, as White explained, “you take a guy who’s fought for 15 months and throw him into the light heavyweight division in the UFC, that’s just f*cking mean.”
“We’ll move him the way we’ve done a lot of guys, including [Greg] Hardy,” he added.
Watch the full press scrum with Dana White from Contender Series Season 3 Week 8 above!