UFC president Dana White confessed at the weekend that he was completely unaware of Poland’s burgeoning MMA scene.
Talking to Fighters Only after Saturday night’s UFC on FUEL 5 event, White was running through a list of future UFC live show destinations. He concluded with his customary “we are going everywhere” promise. But when Poland was put to him, White said it hadn’t been on the radar.
“That’s a good question. that’s about the only country we haven’t talked about is Poland. Poland is like the only one we haven’t talked about. We have no plans whatsoever right now for Poland. We have got France, China, India, Italy and a lot of stuff going on here in the UK,” he said.
Informed that Poland had a thriving MMA scene, White’s interest was piqued. “Really? I didn’t even know that. You’re educating me. I like hearing it,” he laughed. And while he didn’t then make any concrete promises to investigate further, the information has surely lodged itself somewhere in the back of his mind for future reference.
White is fond of saying that there are three ‘no brainer’ countries for UFC shows: the US, the UK and Mexico, all of which have a long association with boxing and fighting in general. Canada turned out to be a fourth place for that list and Poland, unbeknownst to White, is surely a fifth. Ironically the UFC has twice ventured to Poland's neighbouring Germany twice, but that territory has turned out to be a non-starter.
Poles are a robust bunch and share a lot of cultural similarities with the Irish and the British. This includes a fondness for drinking and a love of a good fight, be it boxing or something else. And so the native Polish promotion KSW has done extremely well on television there, with MMA turning out to be a sport ideally suited to the Polish male mindset.
Interestingly the UFC recently went after KSW champion Mamed Khalidov but he isn’t making the move - at present anyway - because he can actually make more money fighting for KSW than he could for his first two or three UFC fights (wins would put his purse up with each consecutive victory).
That does beg the question - is White as completely unaware of Polish MMA as he makes out (it is Joe Silva who does the talent scouting for the UFC after all) or was he being tactically coy?