Dana White: MMA training camps could learn from boxing


Dana White has never been a huge fan of what the sport of boxing has slowly turned into. This is evident by the recent trashing of promoter Bob Arum concerning his handling of Manny Pacquiao’s last fight, where scheduling a fourth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez found his top star laid out facedown on the canvas.

However, White does agree with one thing in boxing: the handling of training camps. At the end of an unprecedented year where cards were ruined almost like clockwork by injuries, White spoke to MMAFighting.com. He believes MMA gyms of today could take a page from boxing and ramp up the professionalism a bit:

“Georges St-Pierre told me a story where, he showed up to camp one time. They were going to have him spar with Shane Carwin. Georges said, ‘Why the f— would I spar with Shane Carwin? How does that help me? What does that do for me, for my career?’ When you hear stupid s— like that its like, no wonder why guys are getting hurt left and right.

“We had a situation, and I’m not singling out Greg Jackson here, I can’t remember if it was Rashad [Evans] who rolled over onto Diego Sanchez’s knee, or the other way. They were training right next to each other. There needs to be a more professional approach to training camps than there is right now.”

We had a situation, and I’m not singling out Greg Jackson here, I can’t remember if it was Rashad [Evans] who rolled over onto Diego Sanchez’s knee, or the other way. They were training right next to each other. There needs to be a more professional approach to training camps than there is right now.

Look how boxing does it. If Floyd Mayweather is training for a fight, they build a camp around Floyd. Guys come in and you have sparring partners and all this stuff. [In MMA] they have 10 guys where they’re all training for a fight. It’s so hard, its different now. They need to start building these camps around one guy.”

GSP and White may have a point here. There is no reason for GSP to risk his ultra-valuable career or even next fight by training with a monster like Shane Carwin. The benefits are just largely outweighed by the potential consequences, just like they are with Rashad Evans rolling with a man who now fights at Lightweight in Diego Sanchez. This could truly shed some light on the reason why fighters showed up hurt left and right this year. Teams are just getting too big, and fighters find themselves training with a variety of partners, for better or for worse. It is true that boxing tends to center a training camp around one fighter for one fight.

But MMA is fundamentally a more brutal sport. The simple aspect of incorporating grappling and all other martial arts adds an increased risk for danger immediately. Fighters are looking to find the best team with the best chances to get them a spot on a big card, because they are not making millions each time out like many boxers do. Still, that doesn’t mean that they should risk that chance by training with much larger, stronger fighters that are weight classes above them.  What are your thoughts on the situation? Is Dana White right when he calls for MMA fighters to tone down their training camp?

Read more about Dana White and how he got started with the UFC here.

  • "Georges St-Pierre told ME a story where, he showed up to Dana's office one time. They were going to have him fight a "Super Fight" with Anderson Silva! Georges said, ‘Why the f— would I fight with the Spyder? How does that help me? What does that do for me, for my career?' When you hear stupid s— like that its like, no wonder why guys are getting hurt left and right.

    • Lol @ Joe Boxer. That's probably the way the meeting Dana had with Georges regarding Anderson Silva went.

  • sounds good but the reality is that if UFC fighters got paid like boxers did then they could afford to do private training camps geared to focus on just ONE fighter in a more contained and safer environment.

    • The reality is there have been less than 20 boxers in our history to make a million dollars or more from fighting. The UFC alone has produced more millionaires than boxing and the sport has been around more than 10x as long under sanctions.

      • Less than 20 millionaires in boxing history? Get out of here with those made up stats

        • Don't worry, I'll handle this.

          Just off the top of my head: Ali, L. Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Tyson, Lewis, Bowe, Holmes, De La Hoya, Mayweather, Froch, Kessler, Calzaghe, RJJ, Hopkins, Trinidad, Mosley, Wright, Cotto, Margarito, Clottey, Berto, Ortiz, Khan, Bradley, Alexander, Donaire, Prince Naseem, MAB, Morales, Garcia, JLC, JLC jr, Martinez, Hatton, Gatti, Judah, Baldomir, Pacquiao, JMM, R. Marquez, Vasquez, Vargas, W. Klitschko, V. Klitschko, Povetkin, Byrd, Holyfield, and more that I can't think of at this particular moment have made more than 1 million dollars in one specific fight.
          Let alone over their entire careers

          • PWND.

          • Word I was talking out of my ass.. It is nice to see some people know what they are talking about. But. i will make one correction. This is what the Purse was. Not what they got paid after promotions. lol. Probably the richest dozen on there did not have their money stolen by their promoters. Where in the UFC, they are the promotion. So of course they are going take their cut.
            Who was richer, Don King or anybody you put on that list?

          • I probably should have stopped with talking out of my ass.. 😉 Carry on.

          • It appears you have no where else to talk from.

          • @Kaybs……don't let the truth get in the way of a good story !

          • @enjoy I never have before. I treat facts like the judges treat fights. Arbitrary until a better system in place.

          • @ Kaybs
            LOL-good response

          • PRobably should have. Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao all have more money than King.

            Take that same argument with MMA: Put every single fighters compensation together in the UFC, and then compare it to Lorenzo Fertitta. Hell, GSP, Anderson, Liddell, and Couture together aren't even as rich as Dana White.

          • Yeah but TheKaybs owned the pwnd. Gotta give him credit. Most guys here would have kept arguing and simply threw in more insults. What about Sugar Ray Leonard, Hearns, Hagler and Duran?

            Crap I hate this little teensy tiny typing box 😐

          • Probably all got a mill for fighting Leonard to be honest. Not sure if they made a mill in the Hagler-Hearns masterpiece, or the Duran-Hearns demolition.

            Leonard is a definite though. Also, IMO one of the most underrated fighters in boxing history.

          • but that was my point. The sports are about sports getting rich. Not the players. baseball and basketball really threw the whole concept of fair and value pay out the window. If you guys all believe that every single fighter, including fighters just making a contending run should earn more money than teachers, the president of the country, or even come close to making what their bosses (Dana and the Fertidas) than we won't have a very long run of financial wealth in the sport. The whole concept to any athlete in producing more revenue than their sport alone will provide for them are to earn elsewhere. Promotions and things of the such. But it seems to me that most of the people getting hurt are some of the highr paid fighters in the sport. I very rarely see the up and comers pulling out of their fights due to injury. So I don't know if I buy the entire, "Fighters need more money" theory. It simply won't keep them from over-training.

            I agree, i can't see what I am typing with this tiny typer box.

          • boom !

          • Barrera, Álvarez, Camacho, Páez, Mayorga, Arce, Finito López and I am just throwing the latino boxers you left out that came toe my mind…

          • Always knew you were at the wrong site.

          • sucks when you reply and it posts under the wrong guy.

      • TheKaybs, Where are you getting your stats from? Lol. Guys in MMA will probably never make as much money as boxers. Well, EH has pretty much covered everything.

    • Bingo!

    • exactly, I think Dana has forgotten that you can't build a whole camp around guys getting paid $16,000 to fight and $16,000 for a win. The guys at the top already have camps around them. What the hell is he talking about…? He does have a point about guys getting injured training too close together. The problem is we have seen that shit happen in Dana's own backyard, on the ultimate fighter.

    • UFC fighters get paid A LOT more than Boxers!! It's just a select few boxers that make the Monster Ca$h! the other 98% of pro boxers earnings don't even come close to what UFC Fighters make!

  • He's right and wrong. Yes the camp should work around a fighter rather than the fighter work around the camp but the fact is 99% of them can't afford it, to be fair though the ones that can afford it don't seem to do it from what you hear and see online.
    The only guy who uses that mentality seems to be GSP and maybe Jon Jones… it's no coincidence that they are probably the most prepared and gameplan orientated fighters in the world of MMA.

    But he is wrong as well because a boxing coach can basically take the entire focus of his fighter and plan training efficiently, it's hard in MMA because you have multiple coaches (often striking, wrestling, BJJ) and sometimes they aren't even in the same camps so they are focused on their training rather than the fighter's entire training schedule.

    The sport is still young though so it's not worrying these problems exist, as the sport becomes bigger and you get these young guys who live to train perfectly such as Jones and MacDonald, things will get better.

  • Spitballing solutions:

    Fighters should be required to be within 15 – 18 pounds of weigh-in weight @ all times.

    Cut camp lengths from 12 to 6 weeks.

    Camps should only be used for light spars / technique honing, game planning and getting a fighter’s cardio in shape.

    Each card or fight, should come with a pre-named /pre- identified “back-up” fighter(s), who could be called upon in the event of a fighter scratch. Those fighters should be compensated for being available.

    • "Each card or fight, should come with a pre-named /pre- identified “back-up” fighter(s), who could be called upon in the event of a fighter scratch. Those fighters should be compensated for being available."

      This is the solution to the problem I believe. Oh, Shogun is hurt you say? Ok, we have Ryan Bader and Phil Davis on stand by. What, Gray Maynard injured his knee? No problem, Joe Lauzon and Gleison Tibau were training anyway.

      To me it makes too much sense not to do.

      • @ Evan: Who pays all of those fighters for their camp when they don't fight?

        • The UFC. I'm not saying that they pay them loads of money. Just something like a G to 1500 a week for being in "camp mode" (obviously they could come up with a better name for it later). The UFC's profit margin would dip a little, but there would be fewer cancelled fights if that were the case.

          • @ Evan

            I honestly don't see this as costing The UFC a lot of money. Put it this way, they give away / spend more money per card on fight bonuses (KO, Sub, FOTN) , than this would cost.

            Cost to benefit – is low. IMO.

          • Oh, I completely agree. My comment about the UFC's profit margin dipping a little was meant as very little. Like 20-25 gs per card.

          • @ Evan

            @ Evan

            Whatever it is, I don't think it would be much and then we'd know who were were looking at, in terms of a card. No more surprises.

            Any way, we can always dream. We need a hotline to Dana.

        • You'd probably only need to supply fighters for the top of the card. So, maybe two backup fighters and you pay them 50% of the show money. If there's a scratch and they fight, then they get paid the rest. And the scratch gets nothing. Costs The UFC no more than usual.

          If you wanted to do it for the whole card, you'd still only need a couple of fighters, as most cards are usually just two weights. So, one for each.

          If you think of it as insurance, the costs per card would be reasonable considering the downside. Also, one of the biggest complaints that fans have against The UFC, right now, is lack of confidence that the slated card will materialize. If The UFC did this, the could, at least, guarantee the fights will go off and if there are any scratches, here's what will show up and what the fans will actually be getting for their money.

          It would not be cost prohibitive. Not as I see it. And it would actually work more fighters into the mix. And as Evan said, you can't turn down a fight, because you knew who the replacement(s) were. Jones could not have turned down Sonnen, had Sonnen been the pre- announced "scratch-sub".

    • It is insane that fighters cut weight. There is no real advantage since they all do it. Have the weigh in at ring side with the cup and mouthguard check.

      • Nah, that wouldn't leave enough time. The fight could get cancelled 5 minutes before it started. Have it the day of, like wrestling tournaments/meets do.

      • @ Michael Stephenson: Its seems ridiculous that fighters encounter excruciating discomfort and risk to their health by cutting such large weight only to immediately eat and drink like a horse immediately after. this will eventually cause damage to your kidneys. That guy that recently got scrapped from the card due to backstage vomitting is so common of acute kidney damage from dehydration Some of these guys will end up on dialysis if they continue. If fighters are required to weigh in ringside then they will probably be severely dehydrated just like they do with taking risks with injuries. Fighters have to be accountable for their health as well and be realistic about weight cuts. but the best way is the day before for safety.

  • I agree with Dana 100%, you can't compare the etiquette and proven methods of a long-time tradition such as boxing to current MMA. This IS why there are so many injuries in the sport and it has to be sorted out one way or the other.

  • This is what Nick Diaz has being saying for awhile, only in 209 style… Yet people now get it because Dana is stating and affirming it….pfffffffff… And that top first comment takes the cake for this article…LOL

  • From a Business Development perspective, Dana is looking at the bigger picture… Fighters will earn more money and be able to afford to have a team focusing solely on them if PPV increases. For PPV to increase the best fighters need to be having the best fights… In order to ensure this occurs they need to look at a successful working model – in this case boxing, and understand what they can safely incorporate and change based on their current budgets…

    The implication I see is that there will be a merging of clubs, closer relationships between trainers… as what we are talking about is a systemic change related to fighter routines/ training practices.

    Because the central focus of the UFC's current business development strategy (as I understand it) is to increase market share, they need to ensure that they have a consistent level of quality experience… otherwise both available and latent market share will choose not to risk their dollars on an evening of entertainment which isn't guaranteed to satisfy…

  • I really don't care about a fighters training camp. It's just like any other sport in that sense to me. When watching atheletes perform you can tell the ones who put in work and effort and you can tell the slackers and the ones who get by on pure talent or don't perform to their potential. I see it in Basketball, Baseball and Hockey players and I don't really give a fuck about their training exercises why would I care about how an MMA figher trains. Take it serious and come to win and if not why even bother. If you need 10 guys around you focusing on you alone and hyping you up for 6 weeks to perform your best, that's pretty fuckin strange.

  • Que Dana crying about hurt fighters. Im pretty sure if boxers did more than punch, they would have far more injuries, this isnt boxing Dana.

  • As an mma fighter who currently trains mma, I can say that while I am a featherweight, I often find myself sparring with welterweights, middle weights, and on one occasion, a super heavy weight. The bigger the guy, the lighter we go, its about control. If the heavyweigt threw a hard punch that felt dangerous, Id say hey man Im done. Im not going to put myself in a position where I could get hurt over a punch that is more powerful than anything ill ever see in the ring. But sparring with a big guy can be great experience. Courtesy as training partners is key though