Anyone who watches the UFC knows the name Dana White. For more than a decade now, the president of the UFC has made sure to make himself the face of the company and own the spotlight. White is the typical loud, boisterous, outspoken MMA fan, but he just happens to be extremely wealthy and runs an entire MMA company.
However, with the fame and fortune White has accrued, he has also been forced to accept the characterization of him being someone whose toes you can’t step on. If you do, you’re in a world of trouble when it comes to your paycheck and, quite possibly, your career.
There’s one thing White loves: a company man or woman. He wants someone who will work with him and do what they’re told, while also putting on great performances that he can use to brand his product.
The one exception to this rule is when a fighter makes him money. Exhibit A: Conor McGregor. There have been times in McGregor’s UFC career when he’s probably upset a few of his bosses. There’s no doubt about it. From his trash-talking antics to starting near brawls at press conferences to making controversial comments that a lot of people don’t have the guts to say, the Irishman is definitely more than a handful. Yet, at the end of the day, all of those things make the UFC money and put attention on the product, including McGregor’s incredible fighting style. So, for every headache this guy has the potential of creating, he has the ability to put stacks upon stacks of hundred-dollar bills on the table for the UFC. White has basically admitted as much, when asked about the impact McGregor has had, whether positive or negative.
The point is, McGregor delivers, so the amount of leeway he gets seems to be infinite. Meanwhile, fighter X, who has been deemed boring to watch, on top of demanding more money and certain opponents, will either suffer the consequences of being dealt many unfortunate hands (which they have to take), or else they’re going to have to look for work elsewhere. It’s a “my way or the highway” approach with White at the helm.
The biggest, and most publicized, feud White has ever had with a fighter came against former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, whom White managed before becoming the head of the UFC. When Ortiz was champion, their relationship was seemingly very stable, until he started to become discouraged with some of White’s methods of favoritism, particularly towards Chuck Liddell, another fighter White represented as an agent at the time. Liddell and Ortiz were also friends at one point, but eventually ended up fighting each other. It’s possible that level of competitive rivalry probably created a wedge between them.
Meanwhile, the feud between White and Ortiz got so strange that there was an agreement between the two men about how they would actually fight each other in a sanctioned boxing match. Then, Jenna Jameson, Ortiz’s girlfriend at the time, even got involved in the back-and-forth, joining her boyfriend in attacking White.
Outside of McGregor and Ortiz, the level of well-known difficult fighters the UFC has had to put up with is few and far between. Of course, there are Anderson Silva and José Aldo, both of whom can be outspoken and make demands about pay. However, these guys are legendary longtime champions, so they also have a little bit of leeway. It’s been pretty well documented, though, that White has voiced his displeasure with these particular fighters. Even they don’t get off that easy from the wrath of the boss.
The lesson that has to be learned for any fighter who wants to join the UFC is pretty simple: If you want to make White happy, you better be prepared to prove yourself as the best fighter in the world, or you better do what he says when he says it, because as he stated on an episode of The Ultimate Fighter, “It’s either my way, or no way.”
White means business, and he won’t let anybody get in his way.