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Make It/Take It: Does the UFC Need to Lose Dana White?


(Round 5′s new Talking Dana White action figure says eight phrases. All of them are “Fuck you.” / Photo courtesy of liverkick.)

The rules of Make It/Take It are simple. Two MMA writers face off on opposite sides of a hot-button topic, and make their case to the Potato Nation. The “winning” writer — based on number of votes cast in the poll on page 3 — returns next time to battle a different MMA pundit.

This week, “Writer X” from Parts Unknown (aka, a friend of ours from a different site who has chosen to remain anonymous*) goes up against CagePotato’s own Ben Goldstein. Read on, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section…

* No, it’s not Maggie Hendricks. Or Chad Dundas.

“The UFC Needs a Businessman at the Helm, Not a Character”

By Writer X

Dana White and the Fertitta brothers have taken a sport that was once referred to as “human cockfighting” and built it into a business worth billions of dollars and for that they should be commended.

On its website, the UFC claims that it is the fastest growing sports organization in the world and while that very well be 100 percent true, is there really that much competition out there for them? NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, FIFA, these are all established organizations that have put in their time and gone through their growing pains. They all have been where the UFC is now.

The dilemma the UFC now faces is how does it grow beyond a niche sport into a major league sport like those mentioned above? To start, the promotion needs to move Dana White out of the spotlight and replace him with a new president that is more acceptable to the masses.

I know that the idea of getting rid of the guy that has become the face of the UFC may seem blasphemous to some of you. I get it, you love him, he’s just like you, he curses, he says what’s on his mind, he’s a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy.

White’s also the president of a billion dollar business. He’s a millionaire flying around the world in a private jet. Don’t let the image fool you, because it’s just that, a carefully crafted image. White knows what his key demographic of 18-34 year-old males wants and he delivers, tied up in a nice “Dickhouse” tee and jeans.

The problem is that key demographic is really all the UFC has to hang their hats on. Outside of the 18-34 year old males, you’ll be hard pressed to find a huge number of people that are MMA fans. Make no mistake, the UFC wants to make inroads into those other demographics; they have to, or they will continue to stagnate.

That’s right, the UFC is stagnating. The promotion can talk about the growth of the sport all they want, but the numbers in pay-per-views tell another story. According to the folks over at MMAPayout.com Blue Book, UFC 57 back in February 2006 brought in 400,000 PPV buys, fast forward to UFC 128 in March 2011 and the number is 445,000. So, where’s the growth?

Sure, there have been a couple 1 million-plus PPV events, but the average for PPV buys between UFC 57 and UFC 128 is actually 498,704. So, I ask you, where is the growth that White and the UFC speak about?

Most of the UFC’s income comes from these PPV buys. If they have remained stagnant over the past five years, can they really claim true growth?

If the UFC wants to truly grow and average more than a million PPV buys per event, they are going to need to keep the key demographic of the 18-34 year old male and make some serious inroads into other age brackets and to do that, they will need to shed Dana White, or move him to less of a frontline role.

Two recent incidents made me come to the conclusion that while White is not hurting the growth of the UFC, he surely is not helping it. The first was the Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson interview with Karyn Bryant following Jackson’s win over Matt Hamill at UFC 130.

Jackson made some joking comments that the part Jamaican Bryant was, “Jamaican me horny,” and he then went on to make another joke about “motorboating” her. After the interview, Bryant said she was not offended by Jackson’s antics and while that’s nice, it doesn’t make the actions excusable or appropriate for any athlete, yes, even an athlete that makes his living inside a cage.

I’ve heard that excuse bandied about; the “boys will be boys” talk, the “when did the world become so PC” lines and you know what, they all ring hollow. White and the UFC brass are trying to grow the sport and actions like Jackson’s don’t allow that. Sure the demographic likes it and thinks it’s funny, but what about the people outside that group? Please don’t tell me in one breath that they don’t matter and then tell me you want to grow the sport, it’s one or the other folks, you can’t grow if you stay in the same fish tank.

The second incident occurred when UFC commentator Joe Rogan called Yahoo.com writer Maggie Hendricks take on the Jackson incident “cunty.” Rogan later apologized saying he meant the word as another word for “bitchy.”

In all of this, one voice was absent and that was the voice of Dana White. [Ed. note: This column was written before the release of White's brief statement on the matter.]

Had one of the NFL’s start players done what Jackson did in a post game interview would Roger Goodell have been silent? If Terry Bradshaw had called a print reporter, “cunty” would there have been no outcry? The answer is no and no, so why the silence from the UFC? Is White afraid to be seen as politically correct by his minions in the 18-34 age group?

A stronger president would have dealt with both men; hell, with a stronger president neither incident would have taken place for fear of what the repercussions would be. White will never be the guy to deal with behaviour like this and until someone comes in that will, the UFC will be a niche sport and the late night shows will repeat incidents such as Jackson’s performance in their gag reels and the rest of the world, the ones that could help the UFC grow, will laugh and shake their heads and never purchase a PPV event.

Another way to tell that the sport is a niche sport under White is to take a look at where MMA ranks on websites such as ESPN. MMA sits in the “more sports” tab three notches below “Soccer (US)” and three notches above “High Schools.” Growing sport? Nice try.

The UFC needs a businessman at the helm, not a character. White can get on the microphone and stand in front of his fans and sing the praises of his organization and how it is growing quickly, but until he pursues active growth outside of the 18-34 male demographic his words of being the biggest sport in the world are nothing more than hyperbole.

With Dana White at the helm the UFC will never grow to its full potential.

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beginus maximus- June 14, 2011 at 9:08 am
another example of why you don't go FULL retard when writing an article...
rearnakedchickenchoke- June 14, 2011 at 7:18 am
Writer X’s points are either half-truths or old and stale or both. When comparing AVERAGE PPVs from 5 years ago, did anyone think to compare number of events? 12x450k is not the same as 16x450k. My gut feeling is that there are both more PPVs and more televised events now than back in the UFC 50?s when I began watching. And both are revenue streams for the UFC and equal to growth. How come the fighter salaries have risen and bonuses nearly doubled if they’re making the same money? They wouldn’t.
WithoutRemorse- June 14, 2011 at 7:08 am
No Growth?

Seriously here's some numbers -

in 2005 there were 10 events
2006 18
2007 19
2008 20
2009 20
2010 24
2011 22

I think even a simpleton could see growth here.. lets assume they were all PPV's (they arent but im sure the Live events garner some decent cash) in any case there is growth, at an average price of $55/ppv ($50(SD)$60(HD)) he went from revenue of 274MILLION to this years revenue of a mere $603 MILLION. more than 50% growth since 2005, id say is impressive, particularly considering that most of this occurred during a GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS.

I think you get the point.. I took about 20 minutes to figure these stats out... but good news.. other than the facts I thought that the piece was well written.
earl- June 14, 2011 at 6:14 am
I just love that caption - best one so far. I'm a woman and a HUGE fan of MMA and the UFC. My opinion of Dana is that he's a guy in charge of a guy sport. All the stupid 12 year old guy behavior from the athletes, etc is acceptable to me because it's a testosterone driven sport and always will be. It would be nice if the fans didn't forget that there are women fighters and if the UFC would promote those fighters as well. It would be nice for future generations of girls to see MMA as a viable sport for them. All of this would be nice, but its not something I expect to see. As long as the sport is guy driven it will be a guy's sport, and I will expect to be the only girl in the room - as usual. Does that make it less legitimate? Of course not, but it doesn't help either.
noquarter- June 13, 2011 at 2:10 am
According to MMAPayout.com, the first 12 months (2/4/06-2/3/07) saw 11 events with an average of 515k buys and total PPV buys of 5,670,000. The last 12 months (3/27/10-3/19/11) saw 16 events with an average of 624k buys and total PPV buys of 9,990,000.

There are 75% more PPV buys per year.
IsnappedYourarm- June 10, 2011 at 11:19 am
Articles like this make me realize why CP is not BloodyElbow, MMAfighting, Sherdog, MMajunkie, etc. Pretty gutless. I think Dana is a fairly large sized asshole but look what the guy did with his friend's money. Stick to posting comedy stuff and naked ring girls. Leave the journalism to the journalists.
SouthAfricanMMA- June 10, 2011 at 10:18 am
I completely disagree with Gladheateher's comment that "This type of journalism is silly. I cant take it seriously."

As a member of the sports media myself I back insightful, opinion-based journalism such as this wholeheartedly.

I have no doubt that this feature is going to be immensely popular and I’m sure the numbers – in terms of reads and comments – will back this up.

Keep it up CP!
KaiserSlowzie- June 10, 2011 at 9:33 am
No question, keep Dana, since he's been at the helm the UFC has experienced exponential growth. Just off the top of my head you have: the purchase of Pride, WFA, WEC, & Strikeforce, the creation of The Ultimate Fighter (and say what you will, but it's 14th season is about to start), MMA sanctioning in the majority of North America, the UK, Australia, & Germany, a partnership with microsoft, facebook, youtube, ESPN3, Flash Entertainment, Versus, Spike, Showtime, and whatever the name of that Chinese internet TV channel is called. And "writer X" compares UFC buys for 52 & 126, that Liddell/Couture 3 versus Shogun/Jones, which is hardly a fair comparison. It seems awful conveniant to overlook GSP/Shields. Dana is a promoter, his job is to make you believe that every fight he's selling you is the most exciting and competative fight to date; incedentally, he is also the president of the UFC & ad hoc figurehead of MMA, making his other job to convince you that MMA & the UFC is the safest, most exciting, fastestest growing sport in existence. No one has to "sell" you the validity of the NFL or NBA anymore, & this is why those sports don't have Dana-like characters any longer. If you concede that MMA isnot yet on solid ground as a legitimate sport, then you must alsi concede that Dana is a necessary evil for the moment.
Spitting into the wind- June 10, 2011 at 9:18 am
Well said Goldstein! For one of them there Jews you're alllright!!!!
Tell Brookhouse/Snowden to eat a fucking dick.
J-Dog- June 10, 2011 at 8:53 am
@ArmFarmer - if they look like big pieces of shit beating the shit out of each other, with Rogan and Goldie sounding like diarrhea... well I hope you'll still be a fan. Haha
J-Dog- June 10, 2011 at 8:51 am
One thing that was forgotten in the pro-Dana argument... this is a biggie... Why are PPV buys stagnant? It has nothing to do with Dana's foul mouth. It doesn't help that they aren't on broadcast TV yet... but don't forget that this country is in the middle of a huge recession. People aren't buying a lot of things right now, or they are at least cutting way back. $50 PPV buys are tough to swallow when there are a couple a month and people are hanging on to their dollars. Gas is high, utilities are high, everything is more expensive right now. That's one of the biggest problems. Make they PPV's half price and see if they buy rate goes up.

Plus, the sport has gotten big. When I first started watching UFC, you had to buy it or else you couldn't see it. Now I can take my pick of 10+ bars in town where I can watch it for free. That's because of the huge growth. Every bar that shows the PPVs is PACKED to the gills for every event... because people would rather shell out $40 for wings, beers, and tip than pay more to watch it at home. And a lot of those broke summabitches just sit there and watch the free fight and only order a Coke with free refills.
Fatty McDickbutts- June 10, 2011 at 6:29 am
It's obviously Ben Fowlkes.
ArmFarmer- June 10, 2011 at 5:39 am
They could just keep doing what they are doing for 10 years and the demographic they are reaching will broaden on it's own. If you were 30 when you started watching tuf1, then 10 years from now you're going to be in your late 40's and chances are you will still be a fan. That's the way I see it happening. It will evolve on it's own as the current fans age and the new fans come in. 30 years from now, assuming mma doesn't completely collapse, it should be as big as the other major sports. I'm not going to turn my back on mma just because I turned 40 or 50. At least I hope not, not so sure after the latest southpark episode lol
Deathcheat7- June 10, 2011 at 4:22 am
There is no other word to perfectly describe "Writer X" than cunty. This isn't Ben vs Ben because I refuse to believe that Ben F would have an issue with the whole cunty situation. Maybe its just Ben G doing both sides though, thats possible.
Shaky- June 10, 2011 at 3:05 am
I'd also like to say, the head of FIFA is Sepp Blatter, who is sexist, short-sighted and corrupt. He has held the job for years and football has not only held onto its position as the world's biggest sport but it has grown. He has stood in the way of any innovation or technological advances and has generally been a prick. I prefer Dana White, much.
Buff Frank Mir- June 10, 2011 at 1:55 am
Isee Dana as a fan as much as a business man. I agree with much (not all) of what he says. his reasons for disliking CP, I don't agree but for fighting there's no better!!
The_Dead_Cow- June 10, 2011 at 1:44 am
Like karma said "were all UFC nutthuggers over here".
Seriously though, how could anyone expect mma to overcome what boxing never could?
BTW, the stats quoted in both articles are useless. You can't base an argument with data taken out of context, unless you're in junior high and you have an essay due tomorrow.
I think these writers are having a competition to see who can get the largest comment count.
Buff Frank Mir- June 10, 2011 at 1:27 am
I'm sorry, but i quit reading when i heard the writer X pro Maggie H part. I assumed maybe unwarranted, that since its against BG that this article is biased....
Mir please break Brocks neck- June 9, 2011 at 11:51 pm
I 100% agree with Catalyst8487 . Dana is promoting the UFC and is doing it WELL. Fact is, MMA is 'as real as it gets'. I dont know how anyone watches golf or baseball. Ive been to more exciting funerals than watching those 'sports'. I DO feel that MMA and the UFC are a business FIRST! And right now...BUSINESS IS VERY GOOD. Remember back when Dana had a little hair and Evan Tanner (R.I.P.) was champ? The venues were empty! Now... the term 'sold out' is synonymous with UFC PPV's. I pose this last statement..in response to this article.... Ask yourself THIS question: IF Dana was to be released, would it stop YOU from tuning in to UFC events? Dana or no-Dana.... I enjoy the fights and Im a fan. Im an MMA fan....and the UFC brings it to my TV. I dont care about the UFC..... If CBS or NBC or Ricks Fight League brought GOOD fights to my TV....I'd watch them too. Its all about WATCHING GOOD FIGHTS..... no matter whom 'brings it'. Quite frankly... I would be more 'upset' if Joe Rogan got let go. I enjoy his commentary. But if he got canned.... Frank MIr or Kenny Florian could fill the seat (Id be fine with that too). Thx for reading.
submission_via_nutsack_choke- June 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm
Dana should stay - no doubt about it. On a side note I just want to say the CP users make me laugh out loud with every visit. Not only are you all fucking hilarious but you all have some great opinions , most of them actually valid. The ironic thing is, half of you who bitch about "I could of won that fight" or "Man he was shit", are probably just as overweight as me, sitting at your keyboard and haven't been in a fight since school or college. Either way, I just wanted to take the time to say I love you all. Oh and CP, I'm still awaiting my free T shirt from you guys. I live in Denmark, but I will be visiting New York. So you can post it to me there - What a great CP fan I am, wanting to promote your site with a t shirt AND save you money on postage....

Cage Potato "That's a big fucking request but FUCK it, I'll do it"

Thanks in advance
mentasm- June 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm
Writer X is a bit cunty imho.
Head Kick- June 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm
Ever since I became an MMA fan, I've had mixed feelings about Dana White.

I think he's done a hell of a lot for the UFC, and by extension, MMA in the US. And frankly, despite my beefs with him about certain issues, I still find him a likeable character. I do think he's hindering MMA to some extent with his focus on that 18-34 male demographic, but I don't think that's necessarily personal; I think if he saw the value in reaching other demographics, he would.

What I'd like to see, more than anything, is reaching out to those other demographics--because the potential is there. I know plenty of women who are interested in MMA, and men outside those age ranges, who have become MMA fans thanks to having someone explain what's going on (and who have a natural appreciation for watching good violence). Making a point of explaining what's going on, featuring female fighters, and making sure ALL fans feel welcome are my top recommendations to do this.

This is a relatively new sport, and everyone I've shown clips to is baffled about why I'm into it until I explain what the fighters are doing and why. All the women I've talked to about MMA are much more interested when I show them female fights. There's just no reason for the UFC--and Dana--to settle for an audience solely of bros when a whole lot more people might be interested. The skills and violence and excitement inherent to MMA aren't going to evaporate if more and different kinds of people are watching.
Giblets- June 9, 2011 at 10:27 pm
Yeah, love CP but this whole lets talk serious about the UFC and what they should and should not condone is getting a bit old. The UFC/MMA will be as mainstream as boxing and to think it will be whatched by the whole family during public holidays is laughable, it's a fucking blood sport for christ sakes I wouldn't want my kids watching it, my wife can't sit in the same room when I'm watching MMA and I get that, it's exactly the same as I don't give a shit about what sex samatha has had/having in the city. I watch UFC for the same reason I read CP. The UFC is still crackin along full of character and entertainment inside and outside of the ring, CP your turning into the vagina monologues with these articles.
dranokills- June 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm
first off the whole demographics thing is bullshit...... just cause you say so? I don't fucking think so and I happen to know better.
dumbest, most self serving, self important clap-trap I ever seen written.
lastly ....Goddamn it Ben Goldstein you stupid ass when are you going to accept the fact you fucked up, you deserved your dressing down, and your gonna be blacklisted by Dana until you fix the goddamn problem here.....writing stupid fucking garbage like this will not help your cause. grow up man, just cause all your demographics thing your great doesn't mean your messageboard is growing....ohhh see what I did there? Yeah exactly, shoes on the other foot now huh?
Bomber Man- June 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm
So he can't be a businessman AND a character? He grew the sport thanks in part to his character. Now that's business.
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