How did Dana White build such a valued business and what can we learn from this ?
White trained as a fighter himself but also managed fighters, it wasn't until he left Boston and flew to Vegas to restart his career that things took off. At a wedding he reconnected with an old school friend, Lorenzo Fertitta. He ended up opening a boxing gym in Las Vegas managing Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell during the infancy of MMA. Eventually, White crossed paths with Bob Meyrowitz, the original owner of the UFC, who was grappling with financial troubles and contemplating selling the company.
The owners of UFC decided to sell it for two million. So he hooked up with investors, conveniently his friend Lorenzo Fertitta one of the founders of Station Casinos an American hotel and casino company based in Las Vegas. Together they acquired UFC and appointed Dana White as the company's president, granting him a 10% ownership stake.
Over time, White worked diligently to establish a set of standardized rules for the UFC. Admittedly, the journey had its share of rough patches, with financial losses at times so significant that Fertitta contemplated throwing in the towel. However, he chose to persevere, continuing to invest in the company alongside White, both unwavering in their commitment to the growth and success of the UFC.
By 2005, White achieved a significant milestone by bringing the UFC to television through the reality show called "The Ultimate Fighter." The company gained substantial exposure, attracting numerous investors. In 2016, he successfully sold the UFC to a consortium of investors led by WME-IMG for a staggering sum of just over $4 billion.
In a 2016 interview, White reflected on his experience after selling the company, stating,
"I had a 10% stake... I sold a portion to Abu Dhabi when they purchased it a few years ago, and then I sold the remainder. "When this deal closed, it bugged me a bit... My partners have been with them for twenty years. So that’s all going to change because I now have new partners."
Even after the sale, Dana White retained his role as the president of the UFC and amassed a personal fortune of approximately $500 million by 2019. While he may not be the sole owner of the UFC, there's no denying his profound influence on its continued success
At the age of 53, White remains deeply committed to his work. His passion for UFC is palpable, to the extent that even a mere three-day vacation is unbearable for him. In most interviews, he underscores his love for his job, emphasizing that he simply cannot imagine life without it. White reportedly raked in a staggering $360 million after the deal was sealed.
In Conclusion, One of the key things I see with this success was his vision and key partnerships. His ability to seize the moment and take a failing UFC purchased at 2 Million and develop this new sport formate into a spectacle America has not seen before.