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Is Puka Nacua Related To Dana White? Know the connection between the NFL rising star and the UFC President

Published 09/26/2023, 3:28 PM EDT

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Dana White likes winners. Being the consummate, cut-throat businessman, he has built the UFC from a struggling, controversial promotion to the most popular mixed martial arts league in the world. And we all know by now that White is fond of go-getters.

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It seems having dealt with so much talent over the years; he seems to have developed a keen sense of spotting promising talent. And one such case is the promising footballer and up-and-coming Rams Wide Receiver Puka Nacua. 

Who is Puka Nacua?


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Makea Nacua is a footballer who plays as a wide receiver and currently plays for the LA RAMS in the National Football League. He got his nickname ‘Puka’, which means ‘fat’, and ‘chubby’ in his parents’ native Samoan language due to his size as a baby.

The WR’s collegiate career spanned two colleges. He initially joined the University of Washington but transferred to Brigham Young University in Utah. He also had a stellar high school career at Orem High School in Utah. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound WR was picked as the last pick in the fifth round. Rams’ receiving coach, Eric Yarber found him to be an impressive young prospect when he saw the young footballer in a practice at the team’s Thousand Oaks facility in California.


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“He’s a big, strong guy, so his physicality really jumped out. He was hard to reroute. When guys get their hands on him, it’s almost a mistake because he’s going to get you off-balance and out of position with his physicality, running through shoulders and working edges.” Rams’ receiving coach Eric Yarber said in an interview with Fox Sports.

The BYU alum made a splash at the inception of his professional football career as he played against the Bengals after receiver Cooper Kupp was ruled out of the game due to an injury. According to Next Gen Stats, he has 25 receptions for 266 yards — 117 yards after the catch — on 35 targets for the Rams entering Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Prior to Week 3, he had been targeted 43.2% of the time, which was the highest rate in the NFL.

“He can take that information and translate it to the field. A lot of rookies can’t do that. He’s gained Matthew’s trust because the ball doesn’t hit the ground. When the ball doesn’t hit the ground, you make tough catches and you know he’s going to fight for the ball and it’s not going to be intercepted, he’ll have confidence to come back to you,” Yarber added.

And in good portents for him and the Rams, the fifth-round pick did not look flustered despite the big stage and the game being nationally broadcast on television.

What is Puka Nacua’s connection with Dana White and his son?

Dana White has a close relationship with the Rams wide receiver. This relationship goes back to the days before Nacua moved to Utah and lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, where White’s UFC is based out of. White is also a resident of Sin City and owns multiple properties there.

The UFC CEO’s son, Dana White III grew up playing football in Vegas, where he played Pop Warner football with Nacua. This is probably how the two know each other. And the UFC boss was a fan of Nacua before his recent success with the Rams.

When UFC President Dana White congratulated Puka Nacua

Back in 2021, White shared a video of Puka Nacua’s touchdown grab in the first round of BYU’s game against Virginia with the caption “Congrats Puka!!! @byufootball”. Playing at home, Nacua’s side would go on to win that game with a final score of 66-49.


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However, this was not the first time White had shouted out Nacua on social media for his millions of followers. Back in his University of Washington days, the Las Vegas resident would show love to a then-unknown Nacua on his social media accounts.


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Well, seems like Puka Nacua is a bona fide rising star for the Rams and if the trend persists, may see himself at the top level of the league. And Dana White, it seems, has a good eye for spotting talent even outside the UFC.

WATCH THIS STORY: As dark clouds hover over Aaron Rodgers’s injury Jets superstars revealing comments on retirement comes to broad daylight.

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Written by:

Kanishk Thakur


One take at a time

Kanishk Thakur is an MMA writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in political science from Delhi University, his love for writing and MMA made him want to be part of telling the story of the sport. His journalist mother and love for philosophy and research inculcated a staunch rationalism in him, and the need to substantiate every statement he makes with good evidence.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Das