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FRIDAY, December 13th, 2013, AT 9:30 PM/ PST

And The Driving PASSION Of
Dana White!

By ISCF/IKF President
Steve Fossum

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 President.

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 all about...

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 together

"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 time...
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 some years..."
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, committed 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!

It 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" ( CLIP)
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 OUT!


Dana White Tuff 25
One of 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?
The UFC 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 WEIGH-IN!

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 the Octagon!

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 him.
However... Before you judge him, know what your judging first!
Know 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 fought for.
Protecting the sport YOU LOVE!
There was the help of money, but again... "Money" alone did not make the UFC what it is today.
The PASSION 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!

Do 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!

Dana White Best Moments
-NOT for younger ears - Strong Abusive Language-


"Fighting for a Generation:
20 Years of the UFC"

By ISCF/IKF President
Steve Fossum

"Often people who criticize your life are usually the same people that don't know the price you paid to get where you are today."

This quote seemed to fit one of the best documentaries I have ever watched. If you have not seen it, I urge you to seek out your cable TV guide for the show

"Fighting for a Generation: 20 Years of the UFC".

It's playing on several different channels and in fact, I've watched it twice and will most likely watch it again... and again... Both times after I watched it I wish I had the cell numbers of Dana White, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta because I would have loved to call them all personally and expressed my personal "Thanks, Respect and Appreciation" for their strive, passion as well as their struggles along their journey to make the UFC what it is today.

It's a 2 hour documentary about the UFC from its beginning to where it is today. After you see it, you will have a new found respect for those involved with its creation and an even bigger respect for those who took it to where it is today.

To all of you involved in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in some way today as a fighter, trainer, official or fight fan, ask yourself, "What would you be doing differently today if MMA did not exist?" I can assure you all that if not for the drive and determination of Dana White, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta it would not be MMA.

Love em, hate em, jealous of them, whatever your feelings about Dana White, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and the others who created the name to those who built the UFC to what it is today you will respect what they have done. Not to forget, what their efforts have done for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and everyone involved in the sport today. They have earned the respect of fighters, trainers and fans around the world and if you wonder why, you need to watch this documentary.

Thank you Dana White, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta for your Perseverance, your Passion and your outright Strength to hold steadfast to something you believed in that has touched so many lives today.

  • Thank you to Art Davie for the idea and to UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie for both your efforts as the driving force behind it's beginning.

  • John Milius for his work as the event's creative director.

  • The Gracie Family for showing the world fights "Do go to the ground and you better know what to do when you get there".

  • To SEG pay-per-view for taking a chance on the new sport.

  • To the first fighters who stepped forward to be in the first UFC, Patrick Smith, Kevin Rosier, Gerard Gordeau, Zane Frazier, Ken Shamrock, Teila Tuli, Art Jimmerson and Royce Gracie.

  • Thank you to television critic Howard Rosenberg who in 1993 in his review of UFC 1 coined the name "Mixed Martial Arts."

  • Joe Silva for his great matchmaking skills.

  • We need to thank the early "Critics" because without them, UFC or more so, MMA would have never become a sport. Thank you to John McCain for his strong opinions and so hated (At the time) actions that would lead to UFC commissioner Jeff Blatnick, referee John McCarthy and matchmaker Joe Silva to work on creating rules and regulations to the UFC to actually make it a sport.

  • And finally, we need not forget those fighters who all of us watched back in the 90's who formed MMA into what it has become today. Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz, Vitor Belfort, Mark Kerr, Pedro Rizzo, Murilo Bustamante, Pat Miletich, Frank Shamrock, Mikey Burnett, Jeremy Horn, Pete Williams, Jens Pulver, Evan Tanner, Andrei Arlovski and Wanderlei Silva, among others.

"Fighting for a Generation: 20 Years of the UFC".

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