When UFC President Dana White discusses the success of his series “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight,” he makes it sound so easy.
“I had a concept for the show, I grabbed the two people that I thought would work, we went out on the road, and it worked,” White said Thursday during a media luncheon in New York City.
But if the 17-hour days, two to three days at a time, required to film each episode weren’t enough, consider that White is also running the biggest promotion in mixed martial arts at the same time. So it’s not easy, but he sounds like there’s nothing he would rather be doing.
“There are so many different things we can do with this show that you couldn't do with other shows,” he said of the series, which features White, his longtime buddy Nick the Tooth, and former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra as they travel the country looking for new talent while also getting in their share of trouble themselves.
“This show should be called midlife crisis,” said Serra, 41. “What's the matter with me? I'm over 40 -- I shouldn't be doing this. But we travel, break some chops, eat some food, do some wacky s**t and watch fights.”
Viewers on YouTube have responded to the tune of 1.5 million views so far for the pilot episode, and the reasons are simple. It’s not scripted, it’s genuinely funny and the chemistry between the trio is something a show either has or it doesn’t, and they have it.
“I've been waiting to do a TV show with Matt for about five years,” White said. “I had a guy in LA that wanted to do a sitcom with a fighter, and I said Serra's the guy. This guy was working on it for a while, and he just couldn't get the deal done. So I said I'm gonna be greedy here and I'm gonna steal Serra and take him on this show with me. And I knew Nick would work.
For good reality TV, you've gotta have this contrast in personalities, and there's no more contrasting than those two. I knew it would work.”
Calling him “the Kramer of the show,” Serra and the modern day Renaissance man known as Nick the Tooth are often clashing, but always entertaining. And with White as ringleader - “I usually come up with all the stupid s**t that we do,” he said with a laugh – it looks like the show should be around for awhile.
That’s the plan, as White expects to release one show per month, with the first season focusing on the United States and the next going abroad to other countries.
Yet while watching White, Nick and Serra take in local eats and push themselves to do things you would only do if dared by your buddies is enough reason to tune in, the name of the show is “Lookin’ for a Fight,” and each episode sees the trio at ringside scouting for possible UFC fighters.
So far, Sage Northcutt has made it to the Octagon, Randy Brown is about to follow suit Saturday in New Jersey, and next week, Mickey Gall gets the opportunity to secure a fight with former WWE superstar CM Punk if he can defeat Mike Jackson.
“These guys know that we're there, and this is their opportunity,” said Serra, and White, who used to scour local shows for fighters in his early days at the helm of the UFC, sounds genuinely excited about the chance to do it again.
“Obviously, the game has escalated, but one of the (early) shows I went to, I found Robbie Lawler, who is now a world champion,” he said. “That's where it's at. I think it's imperative that you go to these small shows and scout talent. Baseball scouts go to all the games. There's something about being there live that you will never see on a tape.”
White talks of seeing a crowd full of fans with Mickey Gall shirts on for the New Jersey welterweight’s fight last November, and of course there was his first meeting with the 19-year-old Northcutt and his family in Texas.
“Sage is the nicest kid in the world,” White said, a statement backed up by Serra.
“That's an understatement,” the Long Islander added. “He's like Brady Bunch nice. Such a nice, nice kid. I think this kid has been so nice his whole life that when he gets in that cage, he's an animal. He's not a nice guy in the cage.”
“His whole family was there,” White said, “and as they come, they get nicer and better looking. They're the nicest people in the world.”
And while Northcutt, Brown and Gall have showed that they have the talent to fight, what may be more important is being able to handle everything else that comes with being on the sport’s biggest stage.
“That's part of the deal,” White said. “You find these guys and you have seen throughout the years, the people that I go out and find and bring in, they've got a target right on their back. Paige VanZant, Sage Northcutt, Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey. You are marked the minute you walk in, so they're gonna have to deal with it.”
They usually do. Only now, with “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight,” we get a peek at the whole process. Oh yeah, and there’s some good stuff with the three amigos on the way as well.
“When you guys see what's coming in the later episodes, it's crazy,” White said.