UFC President Dana White joined UFC legend Chuck Liddell and comedian Adam Ray as their first ever guest on the Drinkin’ Bros Network’s new podcast “IceBreakers.”
White talked about the rise of the UFC, COVID challenges, DMX, Joe Rogan, and former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
The 51-year-old businessman also discussed his relationship with the media, growing up in Las Vegas, and teaching box class aerobics.
According to the American, the UFC brass weren’t interested in signing Liddell in the late 1990s.
However, they quickly changed their minds after he knocked out Steve Heath in the second round to claim the IFC light heavyweight title.
White said: “In the beginning, what’s Chuck saying is, I used to manage him – he wasn’t in the UFC, the UFC didn’t want Chuck. For whatever reason, those guys didn’t see what I saw and didn’t think what I thought – they weren’t interested in Chuck!
“I was grinding to try to get him in the UFC so we got him a title fight with a guy named Steve Heath in the IFC and I was like, ‘Chuck, you have to impress these guys.’ It was for a title in that organisation and as usual, Chuck went in there and was incredibly impressive.
“The way the whole thing played out, we ended up buying the UFC, and now I’m running the whole show. I couldn’t be his manager anymore but I could literally control his career.”
Liddell (21-9) is considered one of the best MMA fighters in the history of the sport. The 51-year-old was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009. He hasn’t competed since November 2018.
White credits the debut season of The Ultimate Fighter as being the driving force behind the future success of the UFC. Liddell faced fellow coach Randy Couture at UFC 52 on April 16, 2005, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
“After we filmed the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and that thing aired, when Chuck went in and fought Randy for the title… it literally exploded. Even going into that season, Chuck was already at like that rockstar level, man.
“He was dating the little pop star who did the show with us at that time. He was out in the clubs literally all night ’till the morning, then he would show up from the clubs to The Ultimate Fighter to film… He was already on that trajectory of rockstar.
“When the fights were over, I used to throw these big parties up in my suite, at either Mandalay Bay or the MGM. And after a Chuck Liddell fight, I would tell Chuck, ‘you’ve got to come up to my suite and just come up and say ‘hi’ to everybody, I’ll get you out of there’. When I would tell people Chuck was coming up to the room, they would lose their f****** minds. Chuck had blown up. And then when he knocked Tito [Ortiz] out, it went to a whole other level.”
The second episode was filmed in LA, with White joining Liddell and Ray live via Zoom video from Las Vegas. Spanning almost an hour, the episode is available now on Apple Podcast, Spotify and YouTube.