Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White was not going to let a silly little thing like a global pandemic stop him from staging mixed martial arts (MMA) events, even if it meant taking his promotion to west coast tribal grounds or remote tropical islands to bypass local and federal quarantines.
So was he a hero ... or an idiot?
That depends on who you ask. For longtime color commentator Joe Rogan, still on the fence about attending when word came in that UFC 249 was canceled, White is a “real man” who deserves praise for his dogged persistence in trying to make the “Ferguson vs. Gaethje” pay-per-view (PPV) event a reality.
“He’s a psychotic driving force for the most exciting organization in the world and I don’t think the organization gets where it is without Dana White,” Rogan said on his official podcast. “I think you have to have a crazy person at the wheel. You have a guy who doesn’t give a fuck. He’s a real man. He doesn’t give a fuck, he’ll talk shit, he’ll insult people, he’ll go back with you.”
White helped convince casino magnates Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta to purchase UFC back in 2001 for a paltry $2 million — which they later sold for $4 billion — and no question his drive and longterm vision helped shape the future of combat sports. The promotion would be nothing without the fighters, obviously, and White had a couple of big breaks along the way, but his contributions to MMA cannot be overstated.
“Imagine being the president of the UFC,” Rogan continued. “Imagine having all these fights that you have to make and having all this pressure on you, and you’re also a famous guy like Dana is. Imagine being that guy. Fuck that job. President of the UFC is second only to President of the United States. Bro, he’s under ridiculous amounts of pressure.”
White is also on the hook for the $750 million check from ESPN and parent company Disney, which requires 42 live events in 2020 to cash. Expect a very busy fight schedule once the promotion gets up and running later this year, though we’re at the mercy of coronavirus as far as that timeline is concerned.