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ATT owner Dan Lambert tried to purchase UFC, wanted to keep it 'very small scale'

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to imagine Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) being under the control of someone other than promotion president Dana White, along with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

In addition, the world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion would have never been the monster it is today had someone else purchased the organization back in 2001. That's because there were several other interested buyers looking to save the failing company.

Among them was American Top Team  (ATT) owner Dan Lambert, who revealed his original plans to keep the promotion "very, very, small scale," running just a few shows each year with the hopes of getting MMA regulated by every state.

But at the end of the day, Lambert told The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting) that he's glad it worked out the way it did and the company is, in fact, in the right hands.

"I think of how fortunate all the fighters and managers and fans are that it ended up the way it did, in the hands of the guys it was. They put a ton of time and a ton of money and ate a lot of losses before it turned around. I'd love to think of what the business was back then and how the fighters survived back then, and then I look at how many people have jobs and make livings now and pretty decent ones at times based on that. And I'm not just talking about fighters. I'm talking about managers and instructors and people that work the front desk of all these dojos around the country that are succeeding more because of the interest in MMA. It turned out pretty well."

Lambert also revealed that he already gave a down payment to the original owners, which included Bob Meyrowitz, who ended up in court after refusing to return the original investment when the Fertitta brothers came in with a better offer.

After court and legal fees, Lambert says he eventually got "pennies on the dollar" from his initial down payment.

Furthermore, Lambert said he was in talks to purchase the company a second time back in 2004, but after The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) hit the Spike TV airwaves, the promotion took off and ownership never switched hands.

And though he ended up taking a financial loss going after UFC, it seems everything worked out in the end for his own gym full of fighters, who now have a place to show off their skills and make a good living while doing it (including here).

A "disaster that worked out pretty well for everyone in the end," according to Lambert.

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