Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dana White: Douche Bag or Not?

Dana White, the president of the UFC and one of the driving forces behind MMA going mainstream, is many things. But is he a douche bag? Allegedly, if your website provides a rival promotion with too much coverage, White will pull your UFC credentials. Allegedly, if you've earned a bonus for "fight of the night", White will try to slip you the money behind your manager's back. Allegedly, if you're a promoter and your headlining bout features Frank Shamrock against Caesar Gracie, White will prompt the athletic commission to question the matchmaking and the veracity of Gracie's record. Is there any truth to these allegations? Honestly, it doesn't matter. White is a businessman and this is all part of doing business. Sure, he doesn't really have to crap in anyone else's cornflakes, but he didn't have to swallow his pride and bring Tito Ortiz back to coach TUF 3, either. Nor did he have to fly old-school UFC veteran Fred Ettish out to UFC 45 to stand alongside the Hall of Famers. Nor did he have to hold private press dinners, or fund the UFC 38 after-party, or bend over backwards to get the commission-suspended Nick Diaz into the building at the TUF 5 Finale so Diaz could see his brother Nate fight. At the end of the day it's all about the Benjamins, and douche bag or not, White's dogged belief in the sport has put food on the table for a lot of people.

Back in 2003, there was a joke among industry insiders that went something like, "How do you lose millions of dollars? Make Dana White the president of your company." With the UFC suddenly a true financial empire, I wonder who's laughing now?