There’s no longer life post-UFC for Dana White after nearly departing alongside the Fertittas when the company was purchased by WME-IMG in 2017.
The MMA leader was sold by Zuffa LLC helmed by Loreno and Frank Fertitta with White for a historic $4 billion that very year. Change for the UFC was a guarantee going forward, it was just a matter of how drastic it would be.
According to White when speaking on The Pivot Podcast, it was very close to being the end of his time as the frontman of the promotion, too.
“It was actually a really bad time for me, I didn’t want to do it,” White said of the deal. “The Fertittas were ready to get out and they had a sit down with me. They were basically like, ‘We have everybody in here going through with the deal.’ Everybody was in here kicking the tires looking to buy it. From ESPN to Turner to all these different funds and groups from all over the world. They sat me down and said, ‘We’re gonna sell this thing and we’re ready to go but nobody will take it unless you stay so you have to do this.’
“I was kind of in a weird place because I had done this thing with them, these are my best friends, we’d done it together and I got a little f***** up. I took off for a while, went up into a hotel room, and didn’t come out for a few days. I was a little f***** up over the whole thing. Then I snapped out of it and got my s*** together.”
Imagining the UFC without White in charge certainly seems like an impossibility at this stage and it very likely is after going through such an experience.
The UFC has only grown to find greater and greater success with each passing year and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon according to the boss himself. If White had left the UFC when the opportunity presented itself, he may not have vanished from MMA or combat sports entirely as some other past figures have. There was the attempt at Zuffa Boxing after all, which could always still be a thing eventually. But as White has made it clear over the years, as well as in very recent times, boxing is a trickier pool to dive into than where he already finds himself swimming within the MMA landscape.
White doesn’t need to keep working and would have been well off financially had he decided against maintaining his role during the sale. Yet here we are in 2022 and he now has no intentions of leaving his spot as UFC President. Ever.
“The sale happened and what I was saying was if I have to stay, don’t put me with some f***** up group of people,” White said. “Ari [Emanuel] was going at this thing hard and I wanted to be with Ari so it worked out perfect and Ari’s been incredible to work with. It couldn’t have turned out any better. I still love it, I’m still having a blast. I get over my little phase, the money hits the bank and it’s a weird thing. I had already had money for 15 years but then you get that kind of money.
“I don’t walk away [at this point]. Going through that transition with the Fertittas to WME was a good experience for me and it reminded me how much I really love this business and love what I’m doing so they’re probably gonna have to come f****** drag me out of here. I don’t see myself walking away from this.”
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