'Fight geek' Dana White willing to give out five contracts at every Contender Series event

LAS VEGAS – History was made on Tuesday night as each and every one of the night’s winners at Dana White’s Contender Series 19 earned a UFC contract, and the UFC president was still buzzing when he chatted to media backstage at the UFC’s Apex facility after the fights.

“It’s a no-brainer when you have a night like tonight and kids show up and perform like they did,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, as he explained why he gave contracts to all five winners. “And it’s not just about the way they performed, but who did they fight and how did they perform? You couldn’t ask for a better night than tonight. It was incredible.”

Handing out contracts may seem a simple enough gesture, but UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard have to keep their respective rosters lean and balanced, so was the influx of five new athletes after one night a potential headache for the matchmakers?

No, said White.

“They feel the same way I do,” he explained. “At the end of the day, me, them, you, we’re all fight geeks, that’s what we are, and when we see a night like tonight, it fires me up. I get excited, and every one of these kids came in and did what was expected of them to come in and get a UFC contract.”

The night, itself, proved to be the perfect advertisement for what White, Shelby and Maynard are looking for from prospective signings with all five fights offering all-out action and each fighter putting it all on the line in a bid to earn not just the win, but a UFC contract.

“They say it at the beginning – it’s a little corny, and whatever, but it’s the truth – this is the hardest job interview ever,” White said. “You know what you’re here to do. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. You know what I’m looking for.

“If you don’t know what I’m looking for by now – I’m not looking for guys that come over here and try to win the opportunity to get into the UFC to play it safe to win. You’ve got to decide whether you want to do that the rest of your career, but you don’t do it here. It’s not what this is about, and it’s not what I’m looking for.”

The Contender Series is proving to be a hugely popular platform for White and the UFC to identify and sign exciting prospects to their roster. But while the UFC president stated he would continue to sign fighters based on performance, regardless of the current roster size, he did warn that the number of incoming arrivals would mean that existing roster spaces would need to be opened up to accommodate them.

“I’ll give out five deals every week for the rest of this, for as long as this thing goes on, if they deserve it,” he said. “If you deserve it, you’re going to get a contract. I’m not going to go, ‘Well, this guy deserves it, but I don’t want to give out three contracts this week.’ I’m going to give it to whoever deserves (it).

“Listen, we’re not doing fewer fights. Fewer people aren’t getting injured each month. We’ll make it work. And we have to make tough decisions, because guess what? If I bring in 15, 15 have got to go. That’s how it works.”

To hear more from White, check out the video above.

For more on Dana White’s Contender Series 19, check out the MMA Events.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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