December 13th, 2013, AT 9:30 PM/ PST
And The Driving PASSION Of
January 2001 was when Station Casinos executives Frank
and Lorenzo Fertitta and their childhood friend Dana White made
the decision to purchase the UFC.
I'm sure that even they had no idea what it would become less than 10 years
later. For a cost of 2 million dollars, the three today sit on top of a billion
dollar empire of modern fight sports. Few gave Dana credit since the
money came from the Fertitta brothers. However, if not for Dana
bringing the idea to them, the UFC
and MMA as we all know it today would have never come to be.
While working as a manager for Tito Ortiz and Chuck
Liddell, Dana heard rumor that the current owners of the UFC, Semaphore
Entertainment Group (SEG) was looking for a buyer. Dana,
unlike everyone else, saw a vision. A vision that was built on passion of a
sport that was still, for all intensive purposes, an infant in the world of
fight sports. However, it was a new sport that the former amateur boxer fell in
love with. With Dana's vision in mind, he contacted childhood friend
Lorenzo Fertitta who was an executive at Station Casinos. Lorenzo
had also been a former commissioner of the Nevada
State Athletic Commission. In less than 30 days Lorenzo and
his older brother Frank bought the UFC and placed Dana
at the forfront of the organization... The voice of the company, as its
So what is Dana's stock in the company today? Dana's
share of Zuffa, LLC (the entity the Fertitta
brothers created to own and manage the UFC) today is 9%. Doesn't sound like
a lot? Well, according to sites such as davemanuel.com, bleacherreport.com,
mmamania.com and several other sites, that 9% ownership in Zuffa for Dana make him have a net worth
value of... $180,000,000.
In 2008, Forbes valued Zuffa,
LLC at "$1 billion-plus", based on estimated sales of
$250 million. The UFC did 5.1
million PPV buys in 2007. Taking into account recently acquired assets (Strikeforce,
WEC), the Fox TV deal, the incursion into wildly successful new
markets (Canada, Brazil, Australia), the upcoming move into new,
potentially lucrative markets (India, China) and the company's $425
million term loan that is due in 2015, it's a good guess to say the UFC
currently has a value of $2 billion+. Yes... BILLION!
So what you read above is what you will find on a load of web
sites across the internet. Individuals giving their opinions on why the UFC has become such a success. How the
investment of the Fertitta brothers money has snowballed into such an outrageous
return. However, the only reason I started out with all that is to make sure
everyone reading here has a full grasp of what the UFC
use to be and what it's worth today. Still... That's not what this article is
Dana White has been loved, hated, feared, and all kinds
of other things by so many people. His temper and off the cuff way of responding
to things that happen around him have been the topic of discussion for years.
Those same websites talking about the success of the UFC have also spoken both highly of Dana
as well as thrown him under the bus a few times. However, this article isn't
about Dana's outrageous behavior either.
This article is about what the UFC has become, but in a
different story spin than any of you have ever read.
It all goes back to one moment in UFC history... A defining
moment that some may remember, and if so, you will be able to relate to where
I'm going here... In fact, this defining moment happened almost 2 years before
the Fertitta's and Dana even purchased the UFC. I saw it, Dana clearly saw it, did you?
This story is all about my personal take on Dana White...
Many may find this hard to believe but tonight was the first time I have
ever had the time or opportunity to attend "Anything" UFC in person. Tonight I was at the weigh-ins
for the UFC on Fox: Johnson vs Benavidez 2 event that will take place
tomorrow night at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. It
was the first time I had ever seen Dana and all the other UFC cast live. It wasn't a "Starstruck"
feelings that a lot of people might have, or that I may have had 20 years ago.
However, what would not have happened 20 years ago was my humbled and yet
overwhelmed feelings as I sat alone, off to the side and watched the UFC Magic unfold around me. The production of
this weigh-in mind you trumps the entire production of some of what I thought
were fantastic events. Yet, even the spectacular set up wasn't what brought me
to write this article... Instead, it was a simple, truthful, yet sincere comment
by "The Prez" himself, Dana White in regards to his
thankfulness of the crowd that came to see this weigh-in. After all these years,
and all the success the UFC has brought to MMA and "EVERYONE"
associated with the sport, Dana made a simple comment... and it all came
"Whether you love me or
hate me, you do it with passion, and we love the Passion of our fans."
Passion... A word I have felt for years about the job I do. The
single word that has picked me up off the canvas of a boxing ring, or the word
that inspired me to press on in my work when others may have just gave up.
Passion... The value of the word speaks volumes... I finally get Dana White
and the whole mission statement of the UFC. It comes across a hard core, rude,
violent, dirty, etc. etc, but it's NONE of those things. the UFC and EVERYONE who represents their letters
can be summed up in just one word... PASSION! However, it's how that
Passion has been presented over the years that may quite well be the reason many
don't understand or even like Dana White and the UFC.
I remember when for me, I saw that "Passion"
on a UFC event for the very first
It was on March 5 (Two days before I turned 37), 1999, at
UFC 19. There had been an ongoing
feud with rising UFC star, Tito
Ortiz and another MMA camp called Lion's Den.
A feud that exploded in one of the biggest and most famous altercations in mixed
martial arts history. After Ortiz defeated Guy Mezger in a
rematch, Ortiz immediately flipped off the Lion's
Den corner (Photo)
and then put on a shirt that said "Gay Mezger is my Bitch".
The actions by Ortiz shocked and stunned the MMA World! Not just the act
itself, but who it was directed to... At the time, the Lion's Den was a highly respected elite fight
team. The team consisted of loads of top fighters and at the very top was the
Lion himself, Ken Shamrock! At the time, Shamrock had a
reputation of being one of the scariest and most skilled fighters associated
with the UFC. When he saw the
shirt Ortiz had on, he yelled at him, "Hey Tito, don't let me
see you wearing that shirt!". Shamrock jumped up on top of the
cage, screaming at Ortiz and angrily waving his finger in Ortiz's
face. Referee John McCarthy picked Ortiz up and carried him
across the octagon to prevent the situation from escalating further, as a livid
Shamrock was on the verge of jumping into the octagon.
I remember thinking, "That just set the sport back
I related it to when Kickboxer Dennis Alexio
fought Branko Cikatic in March of 1992 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alexio,
from what those watching thought,
a foul when he hit Cikatic when the referee was still holding Cikatic's
arm after a break. The punch dropped Cikatic and basically,
he couldn't continue. In the "Live" TV interview after the fight, Alexio
Must have dropped the "F-Bomb" about 6-8 times... on LIVE TV!.
Well, it DID hurt the sport of kickboxing... A lot. So, at the time of the Ortiz
incident, I thought it would do the same... How wrong I was. Although only 7
years later, "The Game had Changed!" Fight fans had started to
see more and more extreme things on UFC,
and this was just another one of those moments... However, this was a moment
that made headlines... A LOT! If anything, it made more people want to
watch the UFC!
was around this time, (1999) people like Dana White, and "A LOT"
of others started to realize that PASSION spoke Volumes in the new fight
sport of MMA. I can relate to their emotions with our own slogan of "Bring
It ON!" for IKF Kickboxing and ISCF MMA. Bring it on was created from a
moment when someone had doubted myself and some things happening within our
organization back in 2000-01. It was a response of PASSION!
This now brings me to what I saw tonight, and how I've come to
more understand Dana White.
I get him...
Everything Dana does comes from his PASSION of
a sport he loves Vs a long waged war of those trying to kill that sport. His
rants and abusive words are not just Dana's personality. Sure, some of it is.
But more so, his replies and "In your Face" comments
are identical to "Bring it ON!"
"You have something to
say? You want to talk S### to me or the UFC, well Bring It ON!"
This is why Dana is Dana... Loved, Hated,
whatever... He, like me (Not at all saying I'm a Dana White... just
saying... I GET him!) responds with PASSION!
You got something
to say? SAY IT A-HOLE!
You talkin SH## about me? The UFC? Fighters in the UFC? SAY
IT! Lets not wuss around, say what you mean and BACK IT UP!
This my friends is Dana White!
He isn't trying to come across as a guy who wants to be
hated... He's the Drill Sergeant in the movie "Officer and a Gentlemen"
Dana is the Drill Sergeant that gets in your face, yells at you,
breaks you down mentally, physically, and in the end, you realize, just how
important the "Tough Love" helped you!
The UFC has no
room for Wimps and Losers!
You lose too many times, what happens? YOUR
White Tuff 25
"DO YOU WANT TO BE A FIGHTER?!
the best speeches he has given!
On the same note though... You do well, fight hard, win, your
rewarded Greatly with Bonuses, Bigger Purses, Gifts, etc...
You want to be a
fighter? You want to be a Winner?
is the place for you!
Dana's same mentality has been absorbed by
others associated with the UFC
too. Even Joe Rogen and others on their commentary team. They all come
across with their own "In Your Face" this is what it is attitude. Even
their ring announcer, Bruce Buffer gets in your face when announcing
fighters to the Octagon.
A lot of their fighters and trainers have picked up that same
attitude... The UFC is for the
Strong, not the Weak! Why do a lot of those associated with the UFC have this strong attitude? You know... The "Just
out of boot camp, I can wrestle and kill 10 bears all by myself attitude?"
All of them at one point in time thought they were going to lose it all... Lose
the sport they all have PASSION for! That PASSION is what kept
the UFC alive. That Fighting PASSION
is what drove the UFC to Succeed!
That 'In your Face' style of PASSION has been the Fuel in the
Fire of the UFC company! That PASSION
of Dana White is what I finally get. His PASSION is deep and
strong... And it's in your face when he says "Bring It ON!"
If not for that attitude... If not for that I take NO
SH## Attitude... If Not for that PASSION...
MMA for all of us, would not be
what it is today!
Tonight I saw that PASSION! Why is Joe Rogan
yelling out the fighters weight? Because he's IN YOUR FACE!
Why is the music loud? Because it's IN YOUR FACE!
What is the marketing behind the UFC?
Easy answer... Fast, Loud and it's IN YOUR FACE!
Tonight was a Production in itself!
However, no one told
the UFC that it was JUST A
The music was LOUD, Joe Rogan was LOUD, the fans were
LOUD! Everything was Bold, Strong and Dynamic! This is the UFC Everyone!
That IN YOUR FACE, and Bring It ON
attitude is not just Dana White... It's every fighter who steps into the
Octagon! There is no weak and soft little kittie here. If there were, the UFC would have lost the majority of those battles
they have had with their Critics, State Commissions, and other doubters! No,
they took on every doubter they faced with their In your Face Passion!
The PASSION you would hope to see in EVERY Fighter who enters
This PASSION I'm speaking about can't be bought. You
don't LEARN PASSION! You either have it or you don't!
PASSION doesn't come from money, success or winning!
This PASSION was born out of the need to Survive... But not JUST to
survive... TO DRIVE TO WIN!
The strength, determination and endurance to keep pushing
forward when others doubted them. And more so, that PASSION of Dana
White is always present in protecting what he and the Fertitta
brothers built as a team! That In your Face PASSION Protects what is
theirs! What has also become all of ours! The
dynamic sport of MMA!
There is a saying...
"When I call 911, I want the
biggest, toughest, baddest, strongest cop at my front door!
Not some tiny
twig with a badge and a gun!"
Well fight fans, some of you love him and others hate
However... Before you judge him, know what your judging first!
that his aggressive, in your face, take no crap attitude is the PASSION
of the Leader of the Pack.
The Alpha Male, Protecting what he has built and
Protecting the sport YOU LOVE!
There was the help of
money, but again... "Money" alone did not make the UFC what it is today.
to stand up and Fight is what made it the success it is today.
If you don't
have that same PASSION, you need to get out of the game.
This is a
dog eat dog fight, and it's won by only the Toughest, Strongest and Quickest!
SO ASK YOURSELF...
you love MMA yet hate Dana White and the UFC?
If so, let me be the one to tell you, it's just not possible...
You can't hate PASSION!
White Best Moments
-NOT for younger ears - Strong Abusive Language-