Dana White juggles millions: the martial arts pope and the love of money

Dana White is the face of the UFC. As an influential buddy, he turned his MMA doctorate into a million dollar business. And when it comes to horrific sums, the bald Trump supporter likes to offend.

When he speaks, fans, fighters and journalists stick to his lips very devoutly. We’re talking about Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – the world’s most successful martial arts promotion. White is omnipresent, speaks before the fights, afterwards and sits as an observer directly at the ring. The bald UFC boss is the most recognizable face in the MMA scene aside from fighters like Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Among other things, because his word has enormous weight in the industry and his statements usually make headlines.

Even influential politicians know about his influence. In addition to several UFC fighters, Donald Trump invited White to one of his campaign appearances to speak. Republican MPs in particular had ensured that the UFC was allowed to hold events in the state of Florida again in May 2020 – in the middle of lockdown – with a special permit as a systemically important company.

Bet with a rap legend?

It always gets really interesting when it comes to money. And although White himself rarely reveals specific figures, millions of dollars are buzzing around when it comes to his UFC or his name. After a boxing match between former MMA fighter Ben Askren and Youtuber Jake Paul, rapper Snoop Dogg recently demanded two million dollars from White, which he owed him on the basis of a bet.

Jokingly, the UFC boss had one more before the fight Talk format with Mike Tyson declares he would bet a million dollars on the more experienced askren. Snoop Dogg took up the alleged bet via Twitter and doubled the stake. Askren was knocked out after a few seconds during the fight, whereupon the rapper asked White to give him his money. White then stressed that he had never made a bet, neither with Snoop Dogg nor with anyone else.

The little side story shows that the UFC boss has little fun in financial matters. Especially when his cage fighters complain about a lack of appreciation – in the form of wages that are too low. Many UFC stars like to take the difficult negotiations with the organizer outside.

With Jon Jones, a multiple champion is waiting for his entry into the heavyweight class – but first the price has to be right for the 33-year-old, who is considered one of the best MMA fighters of all time. “I don’t understand why it shouldn’t be 50 million?” Said Jones’ coach Mike Winkeljohn in a radio interview. In his opinion, the UFC would still make a profit. “In the end, it’s the big names that bring the UFC the money.” For White, however, the framework conditions have to be right for such salary spheres. “Being the greatest of all time doesn’t mean you get $ 30 million. It means being able to sell yourself,” White said after Jones’ last fight in February 2020.

Shortly before the upcoming major event UFC 261 in the night from Saturday to Sunday (4 a.m. on DAZN), George Masvidal, one of the two protagonists in the main fight for the welterweight title, followed suit. The distribution of the funds is not fair, stressed Masvidal in an interview with Yahoo Sports. The fighters who bring the pay-per-views (PPV) should get bigger shares. The American had pocketed half a million dollars for his first encounter with champion Kamaru Usman, but the UFC sold 1.3 million PPVs at around 70 dollars each with the fight.

Always in the thick of it: Dana White face-off for the fighters.

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

The alleged imbalance is put into perspective to a certain extent, since a good two dozen fighters and hundreds of employees also have to be paid for the event. However, the UFC is not really dependent on extremely high PPV sales. Through the deal with contractual partner ESPN, the promotion collects several hundred million dollars annually. Instead of approving mega-fights, White tries to put on interesting events every week in order to create a broader audience for the sport.

“Built the UFC from scratch”

And whenever fighters complain about the fees, the UFC boss declares in a diplomatic and almost papal way that no one will be forced to climb into the Octagon. “As a professional athlete you only have a limited time window. This is not a career, it’s an opportunity.” So much could happenWhen it comes to injuries or Covid-19 – so you should take every chance, the 51-year-old emphasized at the beginning of the pandemic.

The UFC was an opportunity for White himself that he seized. “I built the UFC from scratch and led it to where it is today,” he said in an interview with DAZN. His credibility is a decisive success factor and a mix of a nice uncle and a tough businessman who juggles with sums of millions. He should know too – his own fortune is now said to amount to half a billion dollars.