“We Bought the UFC for $2 Million” – Dana White Reveals How He Rescued UFC When It Was in Trouble

Published 10/02/2021, 10:37 AM EDT
LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 20: UFC President Dana White interacts with the media during the UFC 197 on-sale press conference event inside MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on January 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


The Ultimate Fighting Championship is one of the most famous and recognizable combat promotions in the world. UFC became huge by taking advantage of boxing’s decline. They captured the attention of the crowd and showed them what they wanted to see. But UFC wasn’t always in such an excellent state.

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Dana White and his childhood friend Lorenzo Fertitta and his older brother Frank Fertitta ,bought the UFC in January 2001. UFC became a subsidiary of Zuffa, LLC. White became the president of the company.

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White, recently in an interview, said, “Starting the company was challenging but fun. This is what I love to do. It’s what I always wanted to do. So, me and my partner Lorenzo Fertitta, owner of Station Casinos, which was the fourth-largest gaming company in the country. We knew we always wanted to do something in the fight business, and I was managing Chuck Liddell and found out UFC was in trouble and probably gonna go out of business. So I called him up and said, ‘Hey, I think these guys are in trouble, and we should buy it.’ So, in 2001, we bought the UFC for $2 million.”

After buying the UFC from SEO in 2001, White and the Fertitta brothers struggled to pull the crowd. They were struggling to rope in pay-per-views. By 2004, the UFC was averaging around 40,000 pay-per-view buys, and was losing a lot of money.

Dana White, in the interview, added, “We bought it for $2 million and invested something like $44 million into it, and we didn’t get a return like 2006. You had to believe this was going in the right direction. There were a lot of scary moments leading up to that. We fought through it, believed in the sports, and here we are today.”

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What changed for the UFC

UFC’s fortunes changed with the introduction of The Ultimate Fighter. The first season of The Ultimate Fighter aired in 2005, and its finale was one of the most-watched shows on American television. The future seasons of The Ultimate Fighter also garnered people’s attention. The was not only good for the ratings, but it also produced future champions and main-card level prospects.

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The Ultimate Fighter started positively affecting their PPV buys. The UFC also acquired some very popular fighters like Brock Lesnar, a big name in the WWE back then, switching to MMA. Fighters like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre became popular amongst fans, and the tide changed.

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By 2016, UFC had become a household name. They were roping in the crowd and producing amazing events. In 2016, Zuffa, LLC, sold the UFC to the talent agency WME-IMG. They partnered with private equity firms KKR, Silver Lake Capital, and Michael Dell’s investment firm, MSD Capital. Zuffa sold the UFC for $4 billion. Dana has continued to stay the president of the organization to this day.

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What do you think of the journey? Let us know in the comments!

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Arunaditya Aima

85 articles

Arunaditya is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. Having completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Multimedia Journalism from IIJNM, Arunaditya aspires to be an important voice in the world of MMA and interview the likes of Jon Jones, Conor McGregor, Amanda Nunes, and other such superstars of the sport. He has followed the sport for over a decade and is an ardent fan of Georges St-Pierre, who he believes is the greatest of all time.

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