UFC celebrated its 20th anniversary in the year 2021 after Dana White and the Fertitta brothers bought the promotion in 2001. Since then, three friends transformed a failing organization on the verge of collapsing into a huge brand with great success over the years.
After dropping out of college twice and doing odd jobs like paving roads, club bouncer, bellman, valet in a hotel, Dana White decided to quit everything and teach boxing. White was into boxing at a very young age and always wanted to do something connected to the sport. Everything changed for White when he had to flee to Las Vegas in order to avoid some loans he took.
After spending some time in Las Vegas and spending some time with his old college friends the Fertitta Brothers, the three friends were looking for opportunities. They got lucky as White got to know about UFC which was on the verge of bankruptcy. White convinced the Fertitta Brothers to invest in the promotion as according to him it was a great opportunity. The deal was then set and Fertitta Brothers bought UFC at 2 million dollars in the year 2001. The Brothers owned 90 percent of the company giving 10 percent to White along with the president post.
It was then when White set out to resurrect UFC from ashes but it wasn’t an easy job at all. After they bought it from the old owners, White was only left with the brand name and an old octagon. Then White worked with the Athletic commission to induce new rules and regulations to the sport of MMA to make the sport fair. They had to buy all the old rights and get sponsorship deals.
All these costs another 40 million for the three friends as the marketing of the brand was necessary. White soon realized that in order to grow they have to bring new fans to the sport other than the existing old hardcore fans. One of the crucial turning points was the introduction of the reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter”.
In the show, fighters compete against each other to get a six-figure contract from the promotion. This idea was successful as the first season of the show gathered a massive viewership of 1 million. Along with that, UFC got new fans and got recognized all over the US soil. This helped the promotion to get pay-per-view events and generate enormous revenues and sponsorship deals from big brands.
Dana White and Team Toook over other promotions
As UFC grew, White took this opportunity to eradicate other rivals in the business. In 2007, UFC bought his greatest rival, the Japanese-based promotion, Pride Fighting Championship for 70 million dollars. In 2011, UFC bought another major promotion, StrikeForce for 40 million dollars.
Dana White and Fertitta Brothers expanded UFC
With time, UFC became the single most undisputed promotion in the USA to provide high-end MMA action on TV and Pay-per-view events. In 2011, UFC sold its TV rights to Fox Sports in a five-year contract for 100 million a year. In 2016, New York became the city to allow a UFC event to take place since it was banned in 1997.
After the huge success of UFC 205, the Fertitta brothers sold the company for 4.2 billion dollars. White was still the president of the promotion and continued to help in the growth.
In 2018, UFC signed a deal with ESPN which provided Pay-per-view rights and behind-the-scenes exclusive content of UFC. The deal gave UFC a 1.5 billion dollar addition to its revenue. In 2019, UFC also built its very own training and ever facility, UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.