Dana White admitted that Tuesday night’s Contender Series lineup was one of his deepest in the history of the show. With that said, he didn’t award contracts to all of the victors.
Four of the five winners—Jamie Pickett, Rafael Alves, Jeffrey Molina and Colin Huckbody—all punched their tickets to the UFC at DWCS Season 4: Week 4 in Las Vegas. The other fighter to get his hand raised was top-ranked Canadian lightweight Anthony Romero, who defeated a very tough Mike Breeden via unanimous decision.
Following the event, White spoke to reporters backstage at the UFC APEX and addressed why he didn’t sign Romero.
“The kid is 8-0, he’s from Canada and was in a tough fight against a really tough guy,” White said. “When I looked at certain things, he couldn’t finish with that leg kick, was going for takedowns and he really had a tough time when the kid switched to southpaw. I actually told Breeden after the fight, ‘You should fight southpaw. You looked good southpaw.’
“He’s 23 years old, he’s 8-0. He’s got nothing but time. That kid’s gonna get better and he’s gonna be great some day. He’s not anywhere near his prime yet. He’s still a young kid.”
There have been other fighters who have competed on the show that the majority of fans and media members alike felt deserved contracts after victories. Austin Vanderford, Sidney Outlaw Brendan Loughnane, Thanh Le and Chris Curtis are a few examples of competitors that delivered impressive performances that were not parlayed into contracts.
While Vanderford and Outlaw signed with Bellator, Loughnane and Curtis headed to PFL, and Le has found success with ONE Championship following their DWCS opportunities, White is encouraging other promoters to take a flyer on Romero.
“The other thing this does: it gives some of these promotions an opportunity to pick this kid up,” White explained. “Pick him up, make him your star. Maybe he becomes a world champion in one of these other organizations and can get some experience.
“If you’re another promoter, and you’re not watching this show, and not picking up what I don’t, you’re an idiot.”
White was then asked if there was frustration surrounding the fact that he provides the platform for these fighters to get out there on a big stage just for other promotions to snatch them up. The UFC president believes it’s smart for them to do so, mostly because they don’t have the wherewithal to build that kind of platform themselves.
“I just think they don’t know how to,” White stated. “Out of the 20-year history of being in this sport, the answer is they don’t know how to. That’s the only thing I can come up with is that they’re not good enough to do it so everybody waits until someone gets let go here then they pick them up.
“But that would be the smart thing to do. Grab that 8-0 Canadian kid and build him. That’s the other thing they’re not very good at, either.”