Dana White spoke with Si.com recently. As usual, the phrase “[deleted expletive]” appeared throughout the interview. He also found time to say this:
“When we came in, we shook up the entire industry. We rebuilt this industry, we rebuilt the fight business. 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.
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.”
Bigger than anything? Wow, okay. In a few years, when the UFC is so big it has planets and stuff orbiting around it, I will at first be very surprised but then I will remember that Dana White made this vow, and I’ll be like, ‘Huh, guess he was right. And here I dismissed his claim the moment he said “World Cup soccer or whatever the hell they call it.”‘
Sarcasm aside, I admire White’s optimism and ambition. No doubt that’s a big part of how the UFC got here. But I also do not believe that we will reach a day when a UFC fight — any UFC fight — is more popular than the World Cup.
Due to the nature of combat sports, there are some people who will never embrace it. Yes, those people are missing out and they are most likely pussies and posers, but that’s the way it is. Not only does soccer have a broader appeal, it also has a tremendous head start. I like that Dana is shooting for the stars here, but I also hope he doesn’t really believe his own hype.