UFC Unfiltered: Dana White on COVID vaccine, Miocic vs. Jones, Fedor vs. Time

UFC Dana White
Jul 9, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; UFC president Dana White reacts during weigh ins for UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dana White won’t force COVID-19 vaccine

UFC President Dana White has taken a ton of hardline stances in his tenure only to change his mind time and time again (see: female fighters in UFC, title fights for No. 1 contenders, everything involving Jon Jones) but it seems like the coronavirus vaccine won’t be one of them.

In an interview with Aaron Baronsteter of TSN, White has gone on record saying that the UFC won’t be forcing a vaccine shot on their fighters.

“I would never tell another human being what to do with their body. If you want to get vaccinated, that’s up to you. That’s your choice. You’re never gonna hear me say I’m gonna force people to get vaccinated. Never gonna happen.” [H/T MMA News]

Across the nation, state authorities and private organizations have begun to enforce rules that will keep unvaccinated citizens from working. And while the UFC has been hit hard recently with fight cancellations because of a resurgence of the virus, White isn’t ready to wave the white flag.

“I think a lot of people are doing that. They’re telling you in New York you can’t go into a restaurant or a gym unless you’re vaccinated and can prove it and things like that. Some people are getting fired if they don’t get vaccinated. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen here. You wanna get vaccinated? Get vaccinated. If you don’t, that’s your decision, your body.” [H/T MMA News]

DW: Miocic has accepted Jones bout, just waiting on Bones

Sticking to Dana White news (the guy is making the media rounds), White has stated that one half of a super fight has come together letting it be known that former UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic has accepted a fight with Jon Jones.

UFC unfiltered Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic is awarded the championship belt following his TKO victory against Daniel Cormier during UFC 241 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to the Nelk Boys’ Full Send Podcast, White shed a little light on what’s happening between himself, Jones and Miocic.

“Me and Jones have had that type of relationship his whole career. When he’s ready to fight we are ready to go. He’s talking about fighting at heavyweight… But, in the heavyweight division right now we are going back to Houston, Derrick Lewis is taking on Ciryl Gane and whoever wins that fight will fight Francis Ngannou. Whoever wins that fight, if Jon Jones wants to come back he can fight one of them. Or, he can fight Stipe Miocic. Stipe has accepted that fight and will take that fight.” [H/T BJ Penn.com]

White and Jones have a special love-hate relationship going on as of late. Jones wants an immediate Heavyweight title shot and a Brinks trunk full of cash to make his debut. White likes to remind him that other fighters (Lewis, Gane, Miocic) are happy to take his place while he waits. And back and forth like an unending Candace Cameron Bure Hallmark movie.

White also went on to say that Jones won’t be fighting until 2022, so the guessing games will continue ad nauseam until later this year.

The Last Emperor gets an opponent

Former UFC heavyweight Tim Johnson has been signed to face Fedor Emelianenko in Russia for the Bellator Moscow event planned for Oct. 23 at VTB Arena.

Emelianenko (39-6; 1 NC) is 3-1 in his last four fights with stoppage wins over Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir and Rampage Jackson. His lone loss was a knockout to Ryan Bader. Johnson (15-7) is also 3-1 in his last four with victories over Tyrell Fortune, Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo with his loss coming at the hands of Valentin Moldavsky, a protege of Emelianenko.

The former Pride champion has flirted with retirement over the last few years, each time being lured back into the cage by the siren song of glory and sweet capitalism. But, even at 44 years old and with his time finally coming to an end, the platform of a main event fight in his homeland that will be broadcast on a major American network (Showtime) is just too good to pass up.

Let’s hope the Last Emperor can turn back time for the evening to give us the knockout we so desperately want to see.

Finally… Derrick Lewis, underdog?

Derrick Lewis, the heavyweight owner of the most knockouts in UFC history (12), once again finds himself as a betting underdog as he heads into his main event showdown against Ciryl Gane at UFC 265.

UFC derrick lewis
Derrick Lewis (red gloves) fights Ilir Latifi (blue gloves) during UFC 247 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

At one point Lewis was close to a +400-underdog but the numbers have closed a bit although just slightly.

Throughout his career betting experts have routinely bet against the Houston-based fighter only for Lewis, and that weapon of mass destruction called his right hand, to beat the odds.

While the betting lines are crazy to me, I can understand where some of these folks are coming from. Although he tips the scales near the top of the heavyweight limits and is an imposing 6’3″ with massive shoulders and fists the size of cinderblocks, Lewis has never boasted the build of fighters like Gane, Todd Duffee or even Stipe Miocic.

He’s a deceiving sort of “big” that you can’t really appreciate until you’re next to him. Even then his quiet demeanor and humor are quick diffusers though his power could put anyone out in the blink of an eye.

Lewis has been close to title shots before and owns some of the most spectacular knockouts in UFC history, but he doesn’t publicly press for the attention. He’s happy to punch some lights out and collect his checks. Perhaps now though, at 36 years old, Lewis is finally realizing that he may not have too many of these opportunities left, to both get paid the money he desires and the championship gold that has so far eluded him.

The popular knockout artist is riding a four-fight win streak into this weekend’s matchup for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship and a unification bout with Francis Ngannou later this year.

Odds be damned though as I’ll be pulling for “The Black Beast” to pull an upset in violent style and claim a piece of his first-ever championship.