Now that the UFC has sold to WME-IMG for a little over four billion dollars, it's time to see how things will change. Yet one constant even after cashing in for over $300 million dollars seems to be UFC president Dana White, who will remain the public face of the UFC for at least five more years.
White appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show on Thursday night, just three days before UFC 201 in Atlanta, and laid down how it feels to be cashing in so big on an original $2 million dollar investment between him and his business partners, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.
"It doesn't suck," he said about the transaction.
Even though he's cashing out as a nine percent owner in Zuffa's holdings, White said he was a little stunned by the actuality that it was all happening. Particularly because he will be parting ways with his longtime business partners, the Fertitta brothers.
"You know, you get to the point where you...you know, I'm 47, and I've been working, we've been doing this for almost 20 years," he said. "And I don't know what else I need.
"I can tell you this, and this is the honest to god truth. When this deal closed, it bugged me out a little bit. I don't know. When you make that kind of money and my partners, I've been with them for more than 20 years. So that's going to change, I have new partners now. And yeah, I kind of Howard Hughes'd myself up into a hotel room for a couple of days. I couldn't eat or sleep, it kind of freaked me out a little bit."
White reiterated the story of how he came to own the UFC back in 2001, when he was managing former UFC figheters Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. He told Kimmel that he sensed the old ownership was in trouble and possibly going out of business, and that he and the Fertittas could get the promotion for a song. Which ended up being a meager two million dollars.
When Kimmel asked if he'd heard from the guy who sold it to him since the deal went through earlier this month, White laughed.
"His name is Bob Meyrowitz, he's a guy from New York, he's a TV guy, and he's a guy who literally spent a lot of his own money trying to make this thing work," he said. "And we inducted Bob into the UFC Hall of Fame. When the deal was announced, he cancelled."
Kimmel proceeded to ask White if he was a well liked boss, having been with the UFC for the last 15 years.
"Who likes their boss?" he said. "It's one of those things, at the end of the day, our fighters are independent contractors, so I can't make anybody fight. So I put together fights. I build a platform, I do all the bells and whistles and they have to show up and deliver. But I have a good relationship with most of the guys. There are some guys I can't stand. We don't have to love each other to do business."
In the new deal, White will continue on as president of the UFC into 2021. He said he would have signed or a lot longer, as he is invested in this sport far beyond just monetarily.
"It's one of those things, I'm 47 and I love this sport and I love what I do for a living," he said. "And I would have signed a 55-year deal with these guys. So, I'm in."
Asked how he would get his money, whether it would be a big check like Ed McMahon used to give for the Publisher's Clearing House, White again let out a laugh.
"What they do is, when you do a deal like this, it has to go through a bunch of regulation," he said. "But once the regulation is done and the thing finally closes, I guess you just get a check," he said, smiling. "That's how it works."