The brand new Revel Casino will host the return of the UFC.
Dana White Credits Donald Trump with Early New Jersey Success
Many modern day UFC fans were not following the sport when the promotion found its current leader and sports marketing mastermind Dana White, let alone when its first-ever mixed martial arts event was held in November of 1993 in Denver, Colorado. White and childhood friends, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, took over the then struggling UFC in 2001, hosting their first two events together in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with the help of a well know businessman who was willing to assist a venture that was banned in as many as 36 states at one point in time.
“Donald Trump gave us our first shot over at the arena,” White said of the home venue of UFC 30 and 31, which was the Trump Taj Mahal. “Then, when we went to a bigger arena at the Meadowlands, he was one of the first guys there in a seat, watched the full card. And then when we did this FOX deal, the New York Times did a big write-up on the FOX deal. Donald Trump sent me that paper and said ‘Congratulations, Dana. You’ve come so far. I’m happy for you guys.’”
An accumulation of all those things comes together on Friday night when the UFC returns to Atlantic City for the first time in over seven years, hosting its latest UFC on FX card at the brand new Revel Resorts. The FX shows are part of the FOX deal that White referenced, which is a seven-year partnership that was inked in August of 2011.
Headlining the card will be a lightweight showdown that bears massive ranking implications, pitting two-time title challenger and once beaten Gray Maynard (10-1-1) against the high flying Clay Guida (29-12). While a win will keep the victor at the upper echelon of an incredibly talented division, both fighters are well aware that a decision in the match may simply not be enough to bring a title shot closer. The next fight for the lightweight belt takes place in August when current champion Benson Henderson defends against Frankie Edgar, whom he defeated for the title in February after the New Jersey native fought Maynard to a draw and then a follow-up victory in his previous two outings.
“Winning on Friday night against Guida isn’t good enough. I know I’ve got to knock him out, make a statement, to make my case for a title shot,” Maynard remarked. “I know it’s not likely I get another fight with Frankie so soon, but, if Ben keeps the belt, I think I make sense as number one contender. I’ve already beat Diaz, but he’s earned his spot at the top of the division, and I’d be happy to fight him for number one spot anytime.”
Diaz stopped Jim Miller on Cinco de Mayo at the UFC on FOX 4, which was held at the IZOD Center in New Jersey, and White said that night the result definitely earned him a crack at the winner of Henderson-Edgar II.
“I’ve knocked the UFC world champion down five times and probably been as close to the title as you can get without actually holding it,” Maynard continued. “I want to go one punch, one second better next time. It was very frustrating not being able to get the win despite beating Edgar up, and it took a long time getting over it. But I’m back, and I know I’m able to beat anyone in the division.”
Before Maynard can think about another shot at the lightweight strap, he must make his way through a very talented mixed martial artist in Guida, who lost a unanimous decision to Henderson at UFC on FOX 1 in his last fight.
“The lightweight division is so stacked right now, I think it is safe to say I’ve got to knock Gray out to get a title shot,” Guida stated. “There’s five or six guys right now at 155 pounds who are all one big punch or one big kick from being the number one contender. Winning isn’t enough for any of us. Joe Silva and Dana White have a very tough job here, and I want to make their jobs easier for them by not only winning this fight but also winning in a way the fans want me to get the winner of the Henderson vs. Edgar rematch.”
The UFC on FX telecast, which gets underway at 9:00 p.m. EST, will also feature the rubber match in a lightweight trilogy between Sam Stout (17-7-1) and Spencer Fisher (24-8). Both fighters own a decision victory over the other in their first two encounters.