So for all of you who are wondering about the lunch meeting that i had with Dana White, this fanpost is for you. This is my fist fanpost, so if you see anything that i can do to improve it or any features im not using, feel free to let me know!
Something that i dont think alot of you will realize, unless i say it, is that i am a 5th year college student at the University of North Dakota (Go Fighting Sioux!!!). The reason im a marketing major is because i want to work for the marketing department of the UFC, and i have always admired Dana for what he has done for the sport. I by no means make alot of money, and im not a kid who's parents are putting him through college. Im completely on my own, and this was the first time i had ever gotten on a plane. The sole reason for me going to Vegas was because Dana agreed to take time out of his hectic schedule (and during a fight week even!) to sit down with with this college kid who had a class assignment to take a professional in a field we are interested in out to lunch and have an informational interview. I was very nervous seeing as i was about to meet the man whose carreer i had followed for years, and who has the power to give me the job of my dreams. Making a good, memorable impression was vital, so if i ever got the chance to submit a resume, i would have some sort of foot in the door. Sorry if this sounds a little 'star struck' but it was a big deal for me.
I landed in Vegas at 945 PM local time on sunday night, and my meeting with Dana was the next day (Monday) at 12:30. I got to the Zuffa offices, and it was immediately apparent where i was. 2-46" plasma TV's were showing the replays of UFC 110 and WEC 47. A big cardboard cutout of GSP and Hardy was looming next to the door, and copies of "Fighters Only" and "Fight" magazine were scattered on the lobby coffee table. I walked up to the security gaurd behind the desk and told him i had a 12:30 appt with Mr. White. He looked at me like i had just told him i wanted to slap his mother, but he picked up the phone and dialed. "Hello, there is an andrew keller here saying he has a 12:30 with you? ....oh....ok....yes, of course... *hangs up phone* sure Mr. Keller, just have a seat and he will be right down. can i offer you something to drink?" i said i was fine and proceeded to sit down on the lobby couch and break into a cold, shaky sweat. Soon, I hear someone quickly walking down the steps that lead to the Execuetive offices. Lorenzo freaking Fertitta appears and crosses the lobby into the staff offices, walking with a purpose. Kinda hits me right then, "holy shit, im at the Zuffa offices!" Before long i heard the click-click of heels walking on marble, and a young, attractive female appears walking down the steps.
She waves me over, i stand up and start walking up the steps. she introduces herself as Chari, Dana's personal assistant (this is the woman i've been emailing back and forth for the last 2 weeks to set up the lunch) and apologzies for the wait. She leads me up to these huge, frosted glass double doors, opens one of them, and motions for me to walk in. I enter, and sitting at the end of this long, rectangular table set with fancy plates, glasses, and sliverware on cloth napkins, sits Dana White texting on his phone wearing his trademark t-shirt and blue jeans. Dude looks tired as hell, but stands up with a smile on his face and shakes my hand introducing himself. We sit down and a chef comes in to read the menu for the day (tilapia, mahi-mahi, or ribeye) and we order our lunch and proceed with the meeting.
Dana in person is the exact Dana you see on tv, in interviews, and on video blogs. Straight forward and to the point. ten minutes into the meeting, Marc Ratner (NVAC commissoner) walks in and Dana and Marc discuss the Pacquiao-Clottey fight. Not before Dana introduced us though. About 20 minutes later, Danas assistant pokes her head in the door and tells Dana "I finally got a hold of John, he's on line 1 right now". and Dana replies "nope, tell him i'm busy. i'll have to try to call him back". Im sure that phone call was much more important to the success of his business than an informational meeting with a wide-eyed college kid, but for some reason he decided not to take the call. I have always said this, and this meeting confirmed it for me, but he is not all about the "almighty dollar" as a lot of people think he is. One of the main points he drove home with me was to love what i do. This is not an exact quote, but he said something to the effect of "Yeah the money is cool, I've got plenty of money. But once you have the cool cars and toys, then what? you need to be truly passionate about what you do, otherwise all the fame and the money and the bullshit will make what you do seem like work, and your gonna start hating what you do. Whats the point of having a job and going to work if you hate waking up in the morning?"
I proceed with the assignment and asked him the typical day-in-your-life type questions and things he loves and hates about his job, things he would change, his vision of the future, most important and most detrimental decisons he has made, blah blah blah
At the end of our meeting, he told me he would take me around and give me a tour of the offices. Which are absolutely sick, by the way. he pokes his head into Craig Borsari's (Senior VP of Operations and Production of the UFC) office, and Craig is on the phone with someone who has good news for Dana. He waves Dana over, hands him the phone, and Dana proceeds to get very excited about whatever just happened. It was pretty sweet to be standing 5 feet away from him as he is getting pumped up about whatever it is that just happened.
We continue with the tour-my favorite part was the gym that was in the building. complete with a boxing ring, weights, a wall of thai pads, 3 different styles of heavy bags, and the matchmaker of the WEC kicking the bag like he's been doing Muay Thai all his life. Thats when Dana tells me "yeah, all of us that work here train so anytime our day gets a little too crappy, we just come up here and work out for a bit".
We walk past this big conference room, filled with about 7 guys in their early to mid 40's, all in suit jackets, jeans, and dress shoes. Business-casual. Dana apologizes for being late and tells them he just has to finish up something and he will be right in. Then he takes me to where they do pre-fight interviews, and back up to the room where we had lunch. Then he asks if there is anything he can do for me, and I ask him if he minds if i left my resume with him just so he has it on file. "Oh absolutely, leave it with Chari out front and she will make sure it gets looked at". I gave him the UND Fighting Sioux t-shirt i brought for him, and he seemed genuinely impressed/appreciative of it. Chari snapped a picutre of us, Dana gave me the hand-clasp-chest-bump-man hug, and he was off to the meeting that spending time with me had made him late for.
I walked out of the Zuffa building in the most surreal state of mind i've ever been in. I just met the man.