I was in attendance yesterday at the Khan vs. Peterson pre-fight presser. Our friends at Bad Left Hook have a more complete transcription of what was said, so be sure to check out the various comments made.
For me, this event stood in stark contrast to the UFC on Versus 6 presser I attended a few months ago. That press event lacked UFC President Dana White, but more than that, it lacked a sense of being tied to the community (at least relative to yesterday's event). Whatever one thinks of the actual Khan vs. Peterson fight, there's very much a sense of promoting the city of Washington, D.C. I'm not the biggest fan of Mayor Vincent Gray, but it was notable he was there and speaking on behalf of the event. Yesterday's presser felt as if boxing and the city of DC were operating together, in accordance with one another, for mutual benefit. The UFC event, while an unmitigated success, felt as if the Verizon Center and UFC were working together. Admittedly, boxing's history in the city is significantly richer, but I wonder if the UFC's attempt to be the anti-boxing combat sport at key events (e.g. no trainers or managers on stage at pressers) ultimately serves to neuter them or defeat their own interests.
It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where having the city's mayor speak at the UFC press event is a bad thing. I don't know if Gray was invited and declined. Other mayors in other markets have spoken at UFC pressers. But as the UFC grows and visits key markets (DC is among the top ten), having a sense of the city rallying around the event and vice versa would be a welcome upgrade.