On this day 20 years ago Dana White put on his first show as president of the UFC.
What was once a sport with a cult following who’s star fighters struggled to earn a decent living, has been transformed into one of the premier disciplines in the world of fight sports, boasting pay-per-view figures in the millions.
To tell the story of the UFC’s rise to prominence it’s important to tell the story of the man who made it all possible, Dana White.
During his 20 year reign, White has put on more than 500 UFC events, hosted in front of capacity crowds all over the world, but, it hasn’t all been plain-sailing.
White enrolled at college twice but dropped out on both occasions, before getting a job at a casino and eventually quitting in order to commit to “get into the fight business”.
His first step into fight sports came when White approached Boston’s boxing legend Peter Welch, pleading for Welch to teach him everything he knew about the fight business.
White’s “apprenticeship” with Welch lasted three years before he was chased out of Boston as a result of getting into debt trouble with Irish mobsters.
Las Vegas, Nevada was White’s runaway destination of choice and it was in Sin City where he discovered Mixed Martial Arts.
White would become a promoter, he represented fighters such as Tito Ortiz and Chuck Lidell.
At that time the UFC were in dire straits financially. Bob Meyrowitz who was the incumbent owner had even questioned whether they had sufficient funds to put on another show.
It was at this point that White knew that the sport required a shake-up.
White teamed up with the Fertitta Brothers to buy the UFC for just $2 Million. They were effectively just paying for the UFC brand as most of their assets had been liquidated by previous ownership.
As White’s tenure as president reaches the 20 year mark the UFC is said to be worth $9-$10 Billion, quite the turn around.
White was able to see the potential profitability of the pay-per-view model on display in Boxing and he was able to combine it with the theatrics and drama of the WWE to create a dynamic product which continues to attract fans across the world.
Even a global pandemic couldn't hold the UFC back, with many events occurring on “Fight Island”.
The UFC is one of fight sports’ great success stories and today marks the day it all started. Hats off to Dana White for having the talent and determination to create what we see before us today.News Now - Sport News