Dana White recently sat down with Sports Illustrated to discuss a variety of issues. Among the highlights, White reveals his preference for the upcoming presidential election, weighs in on the state of boxing, and makes bold predictions about the future of the UFC.
White On His Presidential Preference:
I’d have to say McCain. I consider John McCain the guy who started the UFC. If it wasn’t for McCain I wouldn’t be here right now. What people don’t understand about mixed martial arts and the UFC is, what [McCain] was saying to the old owners is that you cannot put on fights in states that aren’t sanctioned. It’s illegal. You can’t do it. You have to be sanctioned by an athletic commission, which we agreed with him on 100 percent. John McCain wasn’t saying this thing shouldn’t happen, or it shouldn’t be running. He was saying, if ‘You’re going to do it, it has to be sanctioned by an athletic commission.’ We agree.
White On The State Of Boxing:
I don’t see that were really taking over boxing. Boxing has done what it’s done to itself. I’m not out there trying to hurt boxing. I love boxing. The reason I’m sitting in this chair talking to you is because of boxing. I love the sport. But the fighters, the promoters and all the other leeches have destroyed the sport of boxing. And boxing’s in big trouble. Unless someone steps up with big money and tries to save it, the way we did with the UFC, then it’s going to die. It’s going to die on the vine.
When we came in, we shook up the entire industry. We rebuilt this industry, we rebuilt the fight buiness. And we think we have the right plan and the right strategy over the next five years, and I think mixed martial arts and the UFC is going to be the biggest sport in the world. Bigger than soccer, bigger than football, bigger than anything.
White On The Future Of The UFC:
I don’t even think we’ve scratched the surface of the potential for what this thing is. See, everybody tries to talk about how big we are. We’re not [deleted expletive] big yet. The biggest means mainstream. If I went out on the Vegas Strip right now and asked everyone ‘What’s American Idol?’ everybody could tell me what American Idol is. Not everyone could tell me what the UFC is. We are not anywhere near mainstream yet. There is so much room for growth not only hear, but globally. Shoot, people talk about how big we are and we’re not even sanctioned in New York yet! We just did a big fight up in Montreal and it’s the only place you have a fight up in Canada. There is so much work to do.
White on his to-do list for UFC’s future
This list is long. There’s not enough time in the day to knock out the things on my list. That’s why everyone’s been chirping about this announcement. Remember the Bud Light deal? When I announced that Anheuser-Busch was the sponsor of the UFC now, that thing didn’t get anywhere near the pop that it should have. You know why? Because the media and the fans don’t really understand how [deleted expletive] huge that is, the magnitude of an announcement like that. We couldn’t get a sponsor to save our life five years ago. I flew around on a plane and went to all the majors, trying to get them to sponsor The Ultimate Fighter and nobody would touch it with a 10-foot pole. Now the biggest and the baddest sponsor in the world, Anheuser-Busch, Bud Light is the sponsor of the UFC now. And people are like ‘Oh, good for you. You got a Bud Light sponsorship and you’re going to get money.” [Forget] the money. I don’t care about the money.
Not only is [Anheuser-Busch] the biggest beer company, they’re the biggest sports marketing company on the planet. And it’s global. So they’re an amazing and strategic partner to help us take this sport to the next level.
The announcement I [made June 18] is so [deleted expletive] huge in terms of what it means to the business side of this thing, what it means to the fighters and where we’re going to take this thing in five years. Everyone’s looking at “right now.” I’m working on things that are going to happen two, three, five years down the road. We’re in this thing for the long haul. Remember that I told you this: in the next five to eight years, this thing’s going to be the biggest sport in the world — bigger than the [freakin’] NFL, bigger than Major League Soccer, bigger than World Cup soccer or whatever the hell they call it. Bigger than anything. So remember I told you that.
To read the rest of this interview with much more from Dana White, click here.