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

“MMA Exists in an Alternate Universe, Far Away From the Laws That Govern the Rest of Humanity”

By Ben Goldstein

Here’s the deal: People have been making this argument for years now, and all the while, the UFC has continued to gobble up market share, land major sponsors, expand its impact on the Internet — they might even be buying a damn cable channel in the near future. Sure, pay-per-view buys are an obvious measurable that you can point to as proof that the promotion has plateaued. But it’s certainly not the only indicator of “growth.” And to blame Dana White’s t-shirt collection and frathouse vibe for the promotion’s flat PPV buys makes a pretty large assumption — that mainstream sports fans care about, or are even aware of, what the president of the UFC is doing at any given moment.

White is allowed to operate differently than the top brass of other sports because MMA exists in an alternate universe, far away from the laws that govern the rest of humanity. You’re right — things that get a pass in this sport would be completely unacceptable in any other. The solution isn’t to swap out the frontman for somebody as dull as David Stern, because then you’ll repel the UFC’s powerful fanbase, who shamelessly mark out for the outlaw quality of it all — the company president personally handing out stacks of tickets on the streets, the color-commentator saying whatever he wants, smoking whatever he wants, with zero professional repercussions.

That’s the UFC’s appeal. It’s a rebel sport. And to some extent it always will be, because you’re never going to convince people like Bob Reilly that two men fighting in a cage is acceptable family entertainment. Explicit violence is repulsive to some people; that’s a hurdle that other major sports don’t have to overcome.

Look, if you’re trying to convince me that Dana White is an immature asshole, you’re preaching to the choir. But to say that the UFC needs a “businessman” at the helm rather than a “character” just rings false to me, considering that the 10-year history of Zuffa has proven over and over again that Dana White is as good a businessman as any sports executive in the world. Granted, the UFC’s pay-per-view buys have absolutely stalled out, but before we go out on a limb and blame DW’s vulgarity, two other explanations seem more reasonable:

- The lack of regular broadcasts on network television. Getting on network TV is 100% critical for the UFC, if they want to complete their shift from niche sport to mainstream. If casual fans need to go to basic cable or PPV to find you, they won’t. The UFC’s rumored G4 deal might be a stepping stone to wind up on NBC one day. That will be monumental for the UFC’s viewership.

- The lack of nationwide legalization. Basically, New York is screwing this up for the rest of us. Until you can say “Our sport is legal in all 50 states” — until you get to the point where people don’t even need to ask anymore — MMA will be ghettoized in our culture. Dana White has worked his ass off to get the last pieces in place; it just hasn’t worked out yet.

I also think that the nature of the UFC’s events themselves — the fact that they all take place at night, and are generally very expensive to attend — is probably helping ensure that the sport continues to attract young single men rather than a more diverse, welcoming crowd. I suppose Dana White could consider lowering ticket prices, but unless he wants to move events to Saturday afternoons there’s not much he can do on that front. Combat sports just aren’t practical options for family outings.

DW’s an easy target for criticism because he doesn’t behave like any other successful business leader you see on television — but he’s done a hell of a lot for the sport so far, and the factors that are still holding back the UFC’s progress relate more to culture and politics than White’s personality. Like Rogan and Rampage, there will be a time when Dana White may have to act like a gentleman. Well, we’re not there yet by a long shot, so there’s no reason to replace him and risk turning off the fans who are actually sustaining the business.


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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, 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 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.