“We’re up There With Some of Those Great Sports Business Stories” – Dana White Looks Back at His Journey of Scaling the UFC From $2 Million to $4.2 Billion

Published 12/29/2021, 10:30 AM EST
SHENZHEN, CHINA – AUGUST 31: UFC President Dana White attends the press conference after the UFC Fight Night event at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre on August 31, 2019 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Zhe Ji/Getty Images)


The story of UFC becoming one of the most valuable sports businesses in the world is amazing. Dana White, along with Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, bought Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 2001 when White got to know that the previous owner was looking to sell the promotion. The Fertitta brothers acquired it for $2 million, and it became a subsidiary of Zuffa. White was installed as the President of the company.

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Initially struggling to break even on their investment, White came up with the idea of The Ultimate Fighter. And from there, the people started getting more and more interested in the sport of MMA. UFC overtime garnered a lot of attention and in 2015, its gross revenue was $600 million.

In 2016, WME-IMG, now known as Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. bought Zuffa for a whopping $4.2 billion. It is one of the biggest sports sales in history and White was given a stake in the new business. Recently White talked about the growth of the brand and revealed if he and the Fertitta brothers just sit back and think about it.

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He said, “Yeah, we definitely do. You’re right, you’re dead on Teddy. I mean, Steinbrenner bought the Yankees for $8.7 million. God knows what that team would go for today, anywhere between 3-5 billion. Jerry Jones, same thing. I think he bought it (Dallas Cowboys) for like $6.92 million and they’re the most expensive NFL franchise on the planet right now.”

“We’re up there with some of those great sports business stories. It’s obviously awesome,” he added.

A lot of hard work – Dana White on taking the UFC from $2 million – $4.2 billion

The UFC was bought for $2 million in 2001 and sold for $4.2 billion in 2016. That is an impressive increase in the value of the promotion, and it happened because of the owner’s hard work. Growing a company by that much and making it one of the biggest sports brands in the world is not at all easy, but White and the Fertitta brothers did it.

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According to Dana White, the journey was not easy, and they invested a lot of money in between, as well. During an interview with NBA legend Carmelo Anthony, he said, “We bought it for $2 million and then you talk about $4 billion, which sounds great. But in between the 2 million and the 4 billion, we invested something like $44 million into it. We didn’t get a return until 2006.”

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There were a lot of scary moments, but they fought through and made UFC into one of the most recognizable sports promotions/franchises in the world.

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

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Arunaditya Aima

460 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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