Dana White: FOX deal my greatest accomplishment; I have only one regret
UFC President Dana White on what he’s proud of: “There are a lot of things I’m really proud of. We’ve revolutionized the fight business. We’ve done things in the fight business that nobody has ever done in the history of combat sports, including health insurance for fighters. We’re tweaking and fixing things. It seems like every way you turn, someone is waiting for you to fail. I tell you what: they’ll be waiting a long time for this one to fail.”
White on the challenges of the FOX television deal: “It doesn’t matter what year it is or what relationship it is, there’s always challenges with your business. I like it. I like the fact that we have to change things up. We have to figure things out that we didn’t realize in the beginning. It’s been interesting but fun. I told you when we got into this FOX deal, the next two years were going to be critical, and I’m having fun.”
White on the biggest lesson learned from the FOX deal so far: “I don’t think there’ve been any lessons. I think we’re learning how to work with each other. This is a different deal for FOX than they’ve ever been in before. We control the production and we’re on three different networks - FUEL TV, FX and big FOX. So there are a lot of things that we needed to tweak, but we’re in a really good place right now. I’m feeling really good at the end of the year.
White on dealing with fans through the changes this year: “I’ve been hearing these things for 12 years. I’m actually one of these guys who listens to the fans. I talk to them on Twitter and on The Underground. Some fans have great ideas and some are complete morons. Sometimes you hear some good feedback and other times you hear stupid things. When you start critiquing stuff like music, stupid stuff like that, go start your own MMA organization.”
White on one the biggest fan complaint with the FOX deal: “One of the biggest complaints I got when we started this FOX deal was the NFL music. They all call it the FOX NFL music. It’s not the NFL music; it’s the FOX Sports music. So if you watch any sporting event on FOX, that’s the music they play. I like being on Fox Sports.”
White on upcoming changes with the FOX television deal: “There are a lot of the things we’re working on. Obviously we’re working on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ We gave it a shot doing ‘TUF Live.’ What we found out is people actually do like the reality and want to see more of what went on in the house that week, which is almost impossible to do leading up into a live fight. We’re bringing back ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ ‘TUF Live’ isn’t dead. I’d like to give it another shot.”
White on if this is a crossroads season for “The Ultimate Fighter:” “No, it’s not a make or break year. There are some things that we all did wrong. And we need to fix them. It’s all part of running a business. The thing about us is we’re not afraid of taking risks. If we were, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. This whole business has been a risk since day one.
White on his first appearance on TV from UFC 30: “That was the first time I had ever spoken on TV. Now I speak at the Bill Gates CEO Summit every year, and I speak at every single college. If you think of all the places I’ve spoken at, it’s crazy. Originally when we bought this thing, before we’d do a press conference, I’d be up for hours writing notes and studying everything that was going on. And a lot of people who were there will remember this one: When the UFC was getting licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, we went before the commission and everything was all done, our lawyers were handling everything. That day one of the commissioners calls me up to the podium, and that wasn’t supposed to happen. I walk up to the podium and they ask me a question. Today, I don’t remember it, but I started to respond, ‘Zuffa, LLC is a …’ and I froze. And they had to get a dolly up there to take me back to the seat. Lorenzo asked me ‘What was that?’ and I completely froze. And that’s never happened again. I’m just saying over time you learn and you get more relaxed and you get better at what you do, and you get more crusty, too. I’m definitely a lot nastier than I used to be.”
White on if he’s the greatest promoter of all time? “I have no idea. I don’t think I’d be someone who would make that decision. I think there are a lot of great promoters. People know who Barnum is, Vince McMahon has been around a long time. Don King. Mamma Kardashian, if she isn’t the greatest promoter of all time, I don’t know who is. The show is about nothing and her daughters are some of the most famous people on earth and are making millions. I don’t think you could count her out. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do and we’ve done things that people have never done before, things even boxing couldn’t do in its heyday. I don’t think about who’s the greatest promoter of all time.”
White on if he ever studied other promoters and their styles of selling fights: “No, never. I was always a fan of fighting, all types of fighting, not just boxing. I was a huge Bruce Lee fan, I loved Chuck Norris, I loved fighting. There are a lot of things that I thought could be done to make the sport of fighting better. When you come to the live event, and what you feel at that live event, the things that I implemented are the things I grew up and wanted to do.”
White on if there’s ever been a time that he’s wanted to quit the UFC: “No. There never has been. We’ve had some crazy times, but I’ve never been close. That’s what’s crazy. The example I can give is, I’m such a huge fan of Rage Against the Machine. I went to the concert on my birthday, July 28, last year and 70,000 people were at their concert. And these guys could get along enough to play concerts together. It’s crazy. Guns N’ Roses. And tons of other business relationships, guys who I’ve known who for some reason can’t get along with their partners because maybe there’s too much egos involved. I know people who see me on TV think I’m some kind of egomaniac, but if I was I wouldn’t be here. Me and my partners have been through some crazy stuff. There was a time 12 years ago when this thing was failing and we’re losing millions of dollars, nobody fights, nobody points fighters. And then when things take off, and everything starts making money, it’s never about, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m the guy.’ We all have our jobs to do, we all have our piece of what makes this thing great and there’s no ego.”
White on if he’s started to think about life after the UFC: “No, I’m 43. People ask me that question like I’m 73. I’m probably 73 in UFC years. Regardless of my age, there’re a lot of things that need to be done. I believe me and the Fertittas and our crew at Zuffa have built a pretty awesome road map and game plan of where this thing is going to go. Now it needs to be executed and needs to be done. We’re going into all these countries, but I don’t really want to talk about them now. This thing is nowhere near where it’s going to be. Every day I go to work and I know what has to be done, but it’s the stupid stuff that happens that I have to deal with that takes you off track and you maybe get to spend two hours dealing with the stuff you have to do. It’s all the BS and the fires that come up.”
White on if he’s still amped on his job: “I better be. My travelling schedule isn’t slowing down. I’m in meetings for days. What people don’t understand about this business and they don’t understand when you get into it is because it looks fun, easy and anyone could do it. But it’s the opposite. It’s the hardest business in the world to make really successful. It’s a lot of hard work. I always say it’s like having a tiny little baby that you have to feed and change the diapers. This baby can’t live without you paying attention with it. That’s what it’s like except the UFC doesn’t sleep. It’s a beast.”
White on his health? “I feel alright. I’m really starting to feel like me again. The doctor wouldn’t do the surgery. He said I was too young. He gave me medication that only works for 50 percent of the people who get it. I guess I’m the 50 percent. It seems to be working for me.”
White on his relationship with Roy Nelson and why he’s a ‘TUF’ coach given their relationship: “It hasn’t been good. It’s a nuisance. I don’t know if it’s good TV. In the end of the day, what people have to understand is it’s not about good TV. ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is about finding the best guys to bring to the UFC. We pick these coaches because we believe they have something to offer, not just in training, but in knowledge and experience and all the other things that come along with the guys who we pick as coaches.”
White on if he regrets having Roy Nelson as a coach? “Let’s see how it ends. It ain’t over yet. He’s by far the toughest coach to deal with. Ultimately it’s my decision to choose him as a coach, but everyone gets together and talks it over and we agreed on it.”
White on Shane Carwin as a ‘TUF’ coach: “He’s a mellow guy, easy going. But he doesn’t like Roy either.”
White on if Cain Velasquez will fight Junior do Santos New Year’s Eve: “I think so.”
White on where Alistair Overeem fits into the heavyweight division: “He’s got to get relicensed. I don’t even think about it until he gets relicensed.”
White on who will be next to fight Jon Jones: “I don’t know. When the deals are done, they’re done. A lot of guys are injured right now. At the end of the year a lot of guys are coming back from injury and guys are dropping daily and we’ll see what happens.”
White on his biggest regret: “You guys have to understand this, but this is the way I am. I have no regrets. The only thing that I regret is in that video blog when I used the F word. That’s the only thing throughout the 12 years of running the UFC. The way I came off in that thing, people still think I’m some kind of homophobe, and I’m not. That still bothers me.”
White on his biggest achievement: “The FOX deal, without a doubt. There are so many things we’ve accomplished over the years, but the FOX deal is definitely the biggest.”
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