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UFC's Dana White on 'Rampage' about Elite XC

October 13, 2008 |  5:19 pm

UFC President Dana White

Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White came on the phone to talk to The Times about Saturday's middleweight main event in England between Michael Bisping and Chris Leben (9 p.m. PDT, Saturday on Spike TV).

But White soon changed gears from calm and enthused to irate and ballistic as he addressed the Florida State Boxing Commission's investigation of rival MMA fight promoter Elite XC.

Last week, victorious Elite XC fighter Seth Petruzelli ignited an uproar when he told a Florida radio station that Elite XC promoters approached him before his fight with star Kimbo Slice and directed him to keep the fight a stand-up clash, paying him extra for the effort.

Stand-up is Slice's strength as a former street fighter. It mattered little, with Petruzelli quickly knocking down Slice and winning in just 14 seconds.

White railed at follow-up comments in The Times by former Elite XC executive (and current consultant) Gary Shaw, who said he wouldn't hesitate to direct a fighter to keep the bout standing up. "You're talking about a fan-friendly fight," Shaw said.

"That sport is kick-boxing, not MMA," White said. "What makes MMA so exciting is that anyone can win on any given day. Even a guy who's losing badly can pull a submission out ... and win. That's what's been going on in my sport for nine years, and it's why I love it.

"These guys are selling the sport because it's popular, but now they're trying to change the rules. ... If you think wrestling and jiu-jitsu is boring, you're in the wrong ... business, brother."

White proceeded to say Petruzelli's comments, which were later amended to say he was only referring to a knockout bonus he earned, deserve a criminal investigation, and a formal inquiry in all states where Elite XC has staged fights. White said if Florida requires a formal complaint to amplify its current probe, he will "look into" making one himself.

"This is illegal, these guys should go to jail for that," White said. "You could bet on this fight in Vegas. It's no secret Kimbo stinks on the ground. It's no secret Petruzelli should take him to the ground. But what you didn't know is that the scumbag promoter had told him not to.

"If this happened in Nevada, or if it happened with me, the FBI would be investigating it. If this thing does not get investigated properly, it's the biggest slap in the face to sports."

Meanwhile, White discussed his organization's own drama with former light-heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson of Irvine. During the summer, Jackson was arrested after driving recklessly in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, nearly running over pedestrians and evading arrest. He has been criminally charged.

White said Jackson is part of an "insane" UFC fight card on Dec. 27 in Las Vegas, where he is slated to fight Wanderlei Silva. The card is also set to feature a light-heavyweight title fight between champion Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans and a heavyweight title defense by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir.

White said Jackson is training in England, and has recovered fully from the bout of delirium caused by dehydration and exhaustion that led to his reckless driving. White picked Jackson up from jail and said, "it was scary. I didn't know whether to call a doctor or an exorcist."

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo:  Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, shakes hands with fans during a weigh-in at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Oct. 13, 2006. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times