KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello is in Las Vegas for UFC’s International Fight Week, and went one-on-one with UFC president Dana White Saturday night. Here’s the exclusive interview.
Rob DeMello: How’s it going everybody? Aloha from the ninth island of Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC International Fight Week. I’m here with the boss, UFC president Dana White and sir, there and two questions asked every morning in the state of Hawaii. 1. What’s the surf look like? 2. When’s the UFC coming to town? Max Holloway yesterday told me that in his heart of hearts he feels like 2018 is the year that his dream comes true the UFC finally comes to Hawaii what do you think of that prediction?”
Dana White: “Listen Max Holloway doesn’t want us to come to Hawaii as much as my people do. Believe me everyone wants to go work on UFC Hawaii. I don’t know we’ll see. Where would we hold it?
RD: “Well there’s the outdoor venue Aloha Stadium which you’ve talked many times over the last decade of why you do not want to hold an outdoor event.”
DW: “It rains every ten minutes there.”
RD: “There’s also the 8,000 seat Neil Blaisdell Center which you’ve been to. Superbrawl, ICON Sport, Rumble on the Rock. Then there’s the 10,000 seat Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawaii campus which has only held a K1 event in 2008. Would either of those be viable options?
DW: “Blaisdell is too small. Rains every 10 minutes in the other one, and 10,000 seats isn’t big enough. The last time we did a 10,000 seat arena at a place with the potential of Hawaii was like Mandalay Bay which is 12,000 seats. If Hawaii had an arena we’d have been there already.”
RD: “So the thought process is if you guys ever make it to Hawaii it’s pay-per-view or bust. There’s no option for a Fox Sports 1 FightPass Fight Night kind of card?
DW: “Its just tough its tough to do one of those types of cards when you look at how much it costs to fly everybody over to Hawaii. Hotels and everything else, plus if we did that Max Holloway wouldn’t be able to fight in Hawaii.”
RD: “When you look at the state of Hawaii this is a state that paid the National Football League for many many years to hold the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Is there a scenario that would increase the chances of you taking that chance?
DW: “See I like the Pro Bowl there because it doesn’t matter if it rains doesn’t matter if it’s sunny if it’s this or it’s that. That doesn’t matter when you play football. That actually works, the Pro Bowl works there. But if you guys had a real arena we’d be there in a minute.”
RD: “So it’s pretty much a stadium needs to build a dome is what needs to happen right?”
DW: “Yeah throw a dome on that thing and I’ll be over there.”
RD: “Max Holloway, could you give us any update on what could be next? He said yesterday he knows it’s not Hawaii he wants to fight before the end of the year. Do you know who that could be and where it could be?”
DW: “Yeah were looking at Frankie Edgar but we don’t know where.”
RD: “Before the calendar year ends I imagine?”
RD: “Alright. Real quickly, whether or not there’s ever an event in Hawaii, the relationship between the UFC and Hawaii is a strong one, always has been. What is it about the island fighter that has you tapping into that pipeline for as long as you have and as frequent as you have since you became UFC president?”
DW: “And the fans. Since before we ever bought the UFC the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC has been huge in Hawaii. And Hawaii even though I keep saying it’s tough we don’t have an arena or whatever has been very good to us. Not only in pay-per-views but in ratings too. Hawaii is incredible, and has been very good to us.”
RD: “Were in Vegas, where better place to get the odds percentage chance UFC in Hawaii let’s say in the next five years.
DW: “What are the odds Hawaii has a stadium in the next five years?”
RD: “So the state of Hawaii is kicking around the idea of knocking down the current Aloha Stadium and building a new one that might be smaller maybe 35,000 or so, but has all of the bells and whistles. If they do that and there is a retractable roof would the UFC be there?”
DW: “If they do that I’ll be one of the first events there if not the first!”