Following the cancellation of original card main-event fighter Jon Jones, is White toning down his expectations of pay-per-view buys for this card now headlined by champion Renan Barao of Brazil and top-ranked veteran Urijah Faber?
“Not at all, are you crazy?” White answered in a telephone conversation with The Times on Monday.
“We got Renan Barao, who finishes everybody and hasn’t lost a fight in eight years, going up against Urijah Faber – this will be his fifth fight in 10 months and he looks better than he’s ever looked,” White said.
Barao (33-1) beat Faber by decision in 2012, and was elevated to bantamweight champion last month when champion Dominick Cruz suffered another injury to further delay his return.
“Barao’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” White said. “He’a finisher, he goes in and murders people. He can submit you, knock you out, won his last fight by a spinning kick.”
The 34-year-old Faber (30-6) won three submissions with four victories total in 2013. The former World Extreme Cagefighting champion from Sacramento has lost five consecutive UFC title shots, but White says Faber’s impressive run is like nothing’s he’s ever seen in the organization.
“It’s unbelievable the run this kid’s on – as long as you’re healthy, when you stay active, your timing, your cardio, everything is better,” White said. “I love this, and Faber coming off the best year he’s ever had, going to be a great fight.
“He always steps up, to fight big fights.”
The card will also include featherweight champion Jose Aldo of Brazil against top-ranked Ricardo Lamas, with pound-for-pound entrant Aldo anticipating a big year that could include dates with Chad Mendes, Cub Swanson of the Coachella Valley and the Frankie Edgar-B.J. Penn winner.
“That division is so stacked,” White said.
Also, heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir square off in a bout that could leave the loser mulling retirement.
“No way Alistair wants to go to the ground, and Frank doesn’t want to keep it standing, for sure,” White said.
Whatever happens with the Super Bowl, White, a Boston native, said he’s not going even if he does have an “in” with broadcast partner Fox.
“I would’ve gone if the Patriots won,” White said. “I’ll watch it on TV at home. I’m not
going to freeze my [rear] off for a game I’m not into. I’m into the Patriots.”