Dana White is a name synonymous with the UFC but does he own it? Well, in a word, no. He’s the current president as well as a shareholder of the UFC but he isn’t technically the owner of the MMA organization.
Back when Dana White was a manager for Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, he met Bob Meyrowitz, the owner of Semaphore Entertainment Group, the parent company of the UFC, and heard that Meyrowitz was looking to sell the organization. White went on to contact his childhood friend Lorenzo Fertitta, a co-founder of Station Casinos, suggesting he acquire the company. That led to Lorenzo and his older brother Frank to pick up the UFC for $2 million back in 2001, installing Dana White as the company’s president.
Back then, the UFC was basically a brand name and an old octagon, according to White, with the company having been stripped back to avoid bankruptcy. It also had a fairly poor reputation, with the Athletic Commission unenthusiastic to consider it a legitimate sport. Over time, White developed the business into the hugely successful name we all know and love, legitimizing it by introducing a set of standardized rules and managing to get it on TV via a reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter, which followed aspiring fighters. He owned 9% of the company in time for it to be sold off to a consortium of investors led by WME-IMG for just over $4 billion in 2016.
Since that sale, Dana White has continued to be president of the UFC and has a net worth of about $500 million as of 2019. So, while he might not own the UFC outright, he has a huge role in its success. He turned its fortunes around by focusing on advertising, the return to cable pay-per-view, and also through home video and DVD sales to make the sport much more accessible to those unable to attend in person.
UFC 40 was the company’s turning point with a near sell-out crowd that was the beginning of UFC turning profitable once more. From then on, UFC grew in popularity once more and steadily became much cooler amongst sports fans.
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At the time of its acquisition, White announced that he was given a fresh stake in the business by its new owners although that figure hasn’t been announced.
In 2019, he also signed a new seven-year contract to remain president of the UFC until 2026. Right now, it’s uncertain what his future plans are after this date. What we do know is that Dana White has revolutionized the UFC into the sport that we recognize today, proving quite different from what it was before he persuaded the Fertitta brothers to purchase it back in 2001.
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