MANILA, Philippines – Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White admitted he was embarrassed in the aftermath of UFC 149, especially as the fights in the main card failed to live up to expectations.
Last Saturday in Calgary, Canada, Brazilian Renan Barao outpointed Urijah Faber in the main event to become the interim UFC bantamweight champion.
But while Barao was celebrating inside the cage, the fans inside the Scotiabank Saddledome were booing and chanting "Refund, refund."
In the post-fight press conference, White admitted he was embarrassed at the way the UFC 149 main card played out.
"We broke the gate record tonight and I'm embarrassed by it. I was excited when I heard, and now I'm embarrassed," he said. "The undercard delivered, they were awesome. The main card did not."
"I'm bummed out about it, I don't know what else to say. I'm pretty honest about it. I'm not out here saying that’s the greatest show you’ve ever seen. It wasn't," White added.
The undercard featured a seven-second knockout win by Ryan Jimmo in what was his UFC debut, as well as a compelling fight between Bryan Caraway and Mitch Gagnon.
But the main card was woeful, with Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan preferring to clinch rather than strike in the heavyweight clash, and Hector Lombard and Tim Boetsch circling each other cautiously for three rounds.
White blamed referee Yves Lavigne for his "horrendous" officiating during the Kongo-Jordan bout, which Kongo won via unanimous decision.
"This isn't the ultimate clinching championship, it's the fighting championship," he said. "And when you see two guys just clinching for three rounds... and this idiot is standing around looking at them. As a referee, your job is to enforce the rules and make sure that these guys fight."
"And if they're not fighting, you break them up and you make them fight... Yves Lavigne was horrendous tonight," White added.
Meanwhile, he admitted that he expected the Boetsch-Lombard bout to be "a real war."
Instead, Lombard – who entered the bout unbeaten in his last 25 fights – was cautious, rarely initiated the offense, and content to counterpunch while looking for a knockout. He paid for his conservative approach: Boetsch won via split decision.
The crowd – which numbered over 16,000 – booed noisily throughout the Kongo-Jordan and Lombard-Boetsch fights.
The blog MMA Fighting said the UFC 149 fight card was "cursed," given the multitude of changes it went through due to the fighters suffering all sorts of injuries.
"UFC 149 was supposed to have Jose Aldo and Mauricio Rua, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but they and many others never made it to showtime," wrote Miek Chiappetta.
"The hex... carried right into the Scotiabank Saddledome and sat right in the middle of the octagon for most of the event,"” he added.
The curse seemingly went on after the event as three fighters -- Faber, Boetsch and Kongo -- suffered injuries during their respective bouts.