Boston Globe profiles DFW

by Billy Baker | source: boston.com
 

Dana White’s billion-dollar baby
How a Southie tough made mixed martial arts the sport of the decade, and the UFC a moneymaking empire.

So I’m out in Vegas with Dana White, and we’re driving to his house to eat dinner and he starts checking his messages.

He listens to one, kind of shakes his head and laughs, then he gives me that look like he’s glad I’m there because he couldn’t make this stuff up. It’s Snoop Dogg. White hits the speakerphone.

“Dana White . . .” it starts. “I’m trying to go to the Rampage Jackson-Evans fight. My people reached out to your people and they said it was sold out. From you to me, me to you. . . . Come on, man, let’s make it official. It’s Snoop!”

“Are you buddies with Snoop?” I ask. He looks up from his phone and smiles. “I guess we are now.”

--

“Mike, how are you?”

Mike Tyson wants tickets, too.

“Anything for you, brother,” he tells Tyson, one of his childhood idols. “You know that.”

--

One day in the summer of 1995, while he was in the middle of teaching a class at the Boston Athletic Club in Southie, two men walked in and told him he had to go outside with them. They were, White says, from the Irish mob.

“The details of what went down were a little cloudy, but the bottom line was: You owe us some money,” he says. “I don’t know why they were [expletive] with me, what the real reason was, but to come after me and bust my balls and try to shake me down was a little weird. They wanted a couple grand from me . . . and I said, ‘I don’t have it.’ They said, ‘Get it from your girlfriend.’ I said, ‘She doesn’t have it, either.’ They said, ‘Well, you better figure it out.’ ”

A couple weeks later, his phone rang. The caller told him he had till that Sunday to pay them, he says, “or we’ll kill you.”

He took his dog for a walk. He’ll never forget that feeling. He was looking over his shoulder, feeling scared and crazy and alone. He wasn’t going to pay them; that much was certain. He went back to his apartment, packed some clothes, left everything else, and got on a flight to Vegas.

“When you talk about stuff like destiny, and [expletive] that happens for a reason, if that isn’t proof, then what is?” he says. “What are the odds that a kid who’s riding a [expletive] mountain bike around Southie, teaching housewives and businessmen and kids how to box, is going to be shaken down to the point where he’s like, ‘[Expletive] this, I’m out of here,’ and leaves?

“And then,” he adds, pausing, “this [expletive] happens.”

--

He plays $25,000 in his first hand and wins. He looks at me and says his life is actually pretty simple: He does his job, he spends time with his kids, and he plays cards to relax. It’s just that the stakes are different now. Forty minutes later, Dana White has lost a half-million dollars like it’s nothing. Because it is. He’s won and lost a million plenty of times, he says.

“This is the only thing that relaxes me, bro.”

--

“I’m flattered that we make it look so easy that these guys think they can just go out and do it,” he says. “We’re the ones that built this industry. We’re the ones that started this [expletive]. It’s like me and you sitting in my house watching NASCAR, and say, ‘Look at all the people there. What we should do is go out and steal some of their drivers and start our own thing.’ ”

“If you come out and say you’re going to compete against me, we’re going to compete. We’re going to fight until somebody wins or somebody loses.”

“Guess what? Mark Cuban owns HDNet. He owns the [Dallas Mavericks]. Donald Trump owns casinos and everything else. CBS is a television network. You know what I do? I’m in the [expletive] fight business. That’s what I do. Every day, all day, 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 [expletive] hours a day. That’s the business I’m in. You are never gonna [expletive] beat me. Never.”

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Recent Comments »

SinCityHustler site profile image  

8/16/10 9:15 PM by SinCityHustler

 There certainly is a market and it's not just UFC and Strike Force, it's global. Where do you people learn your basic economics?  In just a couple of years the minimum pay for the UFC under card has gone from 2k + 2k to 5 or 6k + 5 or 6k.  That's an increase of around 300%.  And the top end has increased as well.  Used to be around $150k + $150k and now some guys are making $500k and Fedor was offered significantly more than that.  You think Mr White is just feeling generous and figured he'd triple the fighters salary just because?  It's the market calling for the pay increases.  But if some of you want to go on thinking that the evil Dana White is so generous that he'll bump pay by 300% because he's so mean, then go right ahead.  

notsobigmike site profile image  

8/16/10 12:20 PM by notsobigmike

The sense of entitlement is strong here.Undercarders are like minor-league ball players or aspiring actors. You put in your time making shit money doing shit work, and if you're good enough, you get to make the big bucks.You don't "deserve" to make more money because you work hard or because your boss is rich. You make what you're worth to the company.If you think you're underpaid, find someone else who will pay you more to do the same thing. If no one will, guess what? You're not underpaid. You're lucky to have a job.This applies to everyone from fighters to doctors.

Jesus Quintana site profile image  

8/16/10 12:13 PM by Jesus Quintana

unseen - oh my bad then, i apologize. sorry, bro.Also, to those saying the "market sets the price": there is no market!UFC/strikeforce fighters are like coal miners in a town with one coal mine. Dana White is cool with exploiting them so they get exploited.Why do you think unions exist? it is so people cant get paid like shit and exploited.

Unseen site profile image  

8/15/10 9:00 PM by Unseen

Uh I was agreeing with you.  I was paraphrasing Dana and what he said a week ago when asked about competion from other orgs.  He said he does not compete with thmem, he competes with the NFL, NBA etc.  My point is that if that is true, pay you fighters on a level that your competion pays it's players.  

SinCityHustler site profile image  

8/15/10 6:10 PM by SinCityHustler

Again, why do you care what the UFC pays its fighters, especially given that they are the highest paying organization out there?  or if I'm wrong and you're correct and Strike Force is the highest paying, the fighters can simply go over there for their fair market share, right? This attitude of the highest revenue maker should have to pay more for the same fighter is ridiculous.  The market sets the fighters value, not the revenue.  Lets see King of the cage sign Brock Lesnar for a fraction of what the UFC pays him simply because you say the little guys shouldn't have to pay the same as the big guys.  Doesn't work.  To the winners go the spoils and that's the UFC.  They are the biggest and the best, thus they pay the most and they have the best.  Let them get to stingy with their pay outs and fighters will go else where to the bigger pay day.  Again, why do you care?

Slipperypescado site profile image  

8/15/10 5:38 PM by Slipperypescado

 Comparing premier promotion vs premier promotion there is still a pay difference from top to bottom. I feel  ( and I am not a expert ) that it is due to the different business models used UFC 116 Brock Lesnar $400,000 (no win bonus) def. Shane Carwin ($40,000) Chris Leben $86,000 ($43,000 win bonus) def. Yoshihiro Akiyama ($45,000) Chris Lytle $52,000 ($26,000 win bonus) def. Matt Brown ($10,000) Stephan Bonnar $50,000 ($25,000 win bonus) def. Krzysztof Soszynski ($10,000) George Sotiropoulos $24,000 ($12,000 win bonus) def. Kurt Pellegrino ($25,000) Brendan Schaub $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus) def. Chris Tuchscherer ($12,000) Ricardo Romero $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus) def. Seth Petruzelli ($10,000) Kendall Grove $50,000 ($25,000 win bonus) def. Goran Reljic ($5,000) Gerald Harris $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus) def. Dave Branch($6,000) Daniel Roberts $12,000 ($6,000 win bonus) def. Forrest Petz ($6,000) Jon Madsen $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus) def. Carlos Vemola ($8,000) Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Juan Diaz II Juan Manuel Márquez $1,000,000 vs. Juan Díaz ($540,000) Daniel Jacobs $200,000 vs. Dmitry Pirog ($50,000) Roberto Guerrero $75,000 vs. Joel Casamayor ($50,000) Rocky Juarez $45,000 vs. Jorge Linares ($30,000) Sakio Bika $18,000 vs. Jean Paul Mendy ($12,000) so bonus makes up the  difference in some . But contract pay is still less in  a general sense to premier promotion vs premier promotion.    

Daniel Plainview site profile image  

8/15/10 5:33 PM by Daniel Plainview

PUFF PIECE

Winnson site profile image  

8/15/10 5:21 PM by Winnson

Enjoyed the article. Dana rules.

bombshelter site profile image  

8/15/10 4:46 PM by bombshelter

The one and only DFW. . .http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog/2008/09/_this_has_absol.html