Dana White is one of the best fight promoters in the world, if not the best. That’s the general opinion of most people who have watched him take the UFC from a $2 million company in 2001 to the $7 billion place it sits today. Wait, $7 billion? Yes, that’s right. White claims in a new interview with Tony Robbins that UFC is worth that much following its big new broadcast deal with ESPN ... that’s $3 billion more than new owners Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG) paid for it just two years ago.
Well, he wouldn’t be a great promoter if he didn’t exaggerate from time to time. But, sometimes he doesn’t just pump numbers and story angles up, he’ll tear people down that piss him off. Lately, a number of those people happen to be the fighters on his roster, which often seems somewhat counter-productive. Recent victims of such draggings include Francis Ngannou and Tyron Woodley, which we suppose makes White’s statements to FOX News regarding his disses ring true.
“Guess what, this isn’t the fun business,” White said (via MMA Weekly). “You don’t get to go out and put on a terrible performance and act like you just did something incredible. The guys that I went after and the guys that I did that to, if you watched their performances and what happened that night, most of them deserved it.”
In Ngannou’s case, it was a bizarre three round nothingburger against Derrick Lewis that had White throwing the once highly touted heavyweight up-and-comer under the bus. Woodley? Frustration inducing performances against Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson.
Still, at what point does White’s behavior go from refreshing truth-telling to promotional self sabotage? At any given moment, there’s a very good chance White is currently or has been in feuds with more than half of UFC’s champions. Is that just the kind of iron fist required to keep over 500 fighters in line, or could UFC benefit from having a slightly less impulsively destructive voice leading the company?