For UFC president Dana White, Trinity Sport Combat’s “Trinity Kings 8” wasn’t just an opportunity to scout the next generation of local MMA talent in Hawaii. It was an opportunity for him to come full circle.
“Back in the day, in 2001-2003, when we first bought the UFC, I used to come out here every month and go to fights,” White said in an interview with KHON2 Saturday night. “There’s so many fights out here that wasn’t legalized in a lot of places. It’s good to be back in Hawaii. I love this place and obviously taking in another fight at the famous Blaisdell.”
White was in Honolulu to watch “Trinity Kings 8” at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arenafrom cageside alongside former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra and former welterweight contender Din Thomas for an upcoming episode of the UFC’s Youtube Series “Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight.”
While he didn’t offer any contracts to local fighters to step into the UFC Octagon on the night, White was pleased to see the sport’s continued growth in the islands.
“This place has been the spot for mixed-martial arts since the late 90s. I haven’t been out here for a fight in awhile so it was good to be back,” he said. “I had Max (Holloway) with me seeing some of the local guys, but the main event was the fight I was really interested in … it was great. I love being out here watching fights.”
Holloway sat next to White during the night’s main card and according to White, continued to sell Hawaii as a possible destination for a UFC Hawaii event.
The back and forth between the UFC and the state dates back to B.J. Penn’s title run in the mid 2000’s, but most recently centered around a Max Holloway title fight in 2018 that ultimately fizzled after the organization and the Hawaii Tourism Authority were “millions of dollars” apart on the negotiating table.
“Max wants it bad,” White said of a UFC card in Hawaii. “Listen, we want to come here. We love this place. We got the get this thing figured out eventually. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I want it, does the tourism board want it? Do they or do they not? If they do, we’ll come. If not, we understand.”
The HTA did not provide an official statement to KHON2 on Sunday, but did reiterate that all proposals are taken seriously. The HTA has not received a proposal from the UFC since the failed attempt two summers ago.
It should be noted that Bellator will be holding their second event in Honolulu in as many years this December with Punahou graduate Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defending her flyweight title on December 21. Bellator has not asked for monetary assistance from the HTA.