UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and Food Network star Guy Fieri recently spoke with USAToday/MMAJunies's John Morgan about UFC on FX 5 coming to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
"As we lay the year out, we like to move around, preferably to major metropolises and major cities," said Fertitta. "A lot of it has to do with the availability of the arena and what else is going on in that city the time or that night to make sure we don't have a lot of competition to contend with. In this situation, we were trying to put this card together, and we were debating over two or three different locations on where to go.
"It was kind of funny, because we do a lot of analysis and we're running numbers and doing all kinds of different things, and we said, 'Sometimes you just have to go literally by gut feel. I'm a huge fan of Guy Fieri's show, 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,' and I had actually downloaded the app on my iPhone. I said, 'You know what we're going to do? I'm going to go on my app right now, and whichever city has more Guy Fieri locations, that's where we're going to do the fight.' That's literally how it came down."
"That's true gut feel. When we go to these cities, we travel so much, and one of the things we want to do is experience different things.
"I'm not a big fancy-food guy at all. My daughter got me into Guy Fieri's show. We sit down and watch it together. I put these different places in these different cities into my iPhone because I want to hit them when I go there. When we get to Minnesota, I'll hit two or three of these places because I like that kind of food."
Fertitta and Fieri have never met, but it turns out the UFC boss came to the right place. Fieri is a diehard UFC fan who watched the sport develop even before Fertitta and his brother purchased the promotion in 2001.
"Listen – you want to talk about those moments in your career where you go, 'Seriously?'" Fieri recalled. "I'm a fan of the organization, and to think that what I do – I'm a chef, and I do some TV shows – to think what I do makes an impact on something as grand and as powerful as the UFC is incredible."
As it turns out, Fieri has been a huge MMA fan since the 90s.
"MMA is incredibly entertaining," Fieri said. "A wide market of people are participating in it. I have young, female bartenders in my restaurant that in train in MMA. Some compete, some don't, but they say it's the greatest workout they've ever had.
"I think there are a lot of misconceptions. Some people don't quite get what it is. But these are adults making decision about what they want to do. I'm not saying that people aren't right to have their opinions, but if you haven't seen it or you really don't know what it's all about, just check it out. It's very entertaining, and you're seeing incredible athletes perform at a level that is in a lot of ways unbelievable."
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