Now that the UFC has been sold, the company’s president, Dana White, could be on the verge of making one of the biggest jumps in the sports world. White, already the face of the UFC, has a chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the most dominant figures in sports, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, just to name a few.
Before everyone gets their hate mail written, consider that White’s place with these highly touted sports figures isn’t all about money. While his paychecks are likely to look a bit larger now, White’s popularity and recognition within the sports world will only continue to grow from this point on.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell laid out the details of White’s new income after the sale, including that his new deal as the UFC president is for five years and could earn him $18 million per year to start. As Rovell pointed out, in comparison, the aforementioned Goodell made $21 million over his first 10 years.
The sale of the UFC to WME-IMG was the biggest in professional sports history at $4 billion, but it seems as if the sport is just getting started in the true money-making business. As the profits grow, so will the talent level from top to bottom. Each weight class seems to get better and deeper as the sport continues to create more superstars with each event that passes.
From the true hardcore fans of the sport to the casual fan who may just find highlights on ESPN’s SportsCenter, the UFC, with White in charge, is in prime position to take over the spotlight.
What does this mean for White? It means ultimate exposure, which is something he has been shown to embrace time and time again. Dana White: Lookin’ For A Fight has been a hit both on YouTube and UFC Fight Pass, and it has given fans an inside and uncut look into the journey of finding new fighters while allowing White to show his true self.
White will never be perfect. He won’t always be loved by everyone. But if there’s one thing he should be given credit for, it’s his real personality and approach to his job. When Jon Jones fell out of UFC 200 due to a failed drug test, we saw White break the news to an emotional Daniel Cormier and really share the same heartbroken feeling with the light heavyweight champion.
When possibly one of his most popular fighters, and one of the greatest ever to be in the sport, cost White a huge main event for UFC 200, the president didn’t hold back. In speaking to the media after Jones was removed from the card, White said he didn’t plan on speaking to Jones and believes the fighter needs to “clean house.”
In other professional sports when a top attraction finds his or her self in a negative spotlight, team public relations, general managers and owners all step in before the commissioners. Yes, I get it, there are no teams in the UFC, but the fact that the main face of the company doesn’t hide behind others, in good or bad times, means he’s only building his own brand to be bigger.
The stars are aligning in the UFC throughout many weight classes, the money is rolling in, the popularity is rising, and White, if he continues to be the same guy we have seen — bold, outspoken, and real — will certainly become one of the most dominant figures in the sports world.
You don’t have to love Dana White, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another general manager, president, owner or commissioner in any other sport who is willing to go out and make himself recognized as much as White does.
Not everyone is here for White. Most fight fans are here for the fights and the superstar fighters. But make no mistake about it, White’s presence in the UFC is just as important.