UFC President Dana White talks about his family life, continued aspirations after success, and why he is not a fighter. All and all, White seems to have it all under control, despite the hectic work schedule.
Question: You are a character, aren’t you?
Answer: (Laughs). I wouldn’t call myself a character. I’m honest and people aren’t used to that.
Q: You’re married, the father of three. Do you still always start the day making breakfast for your kids?
A: I get them breakfast and take them to school.
Q: But then there’s the outspoken extrovert, so passionate that you’re an insomniac? How have you been sleeping lately?
A: Not much. It’s not that I don’t get a lot of sleep, it’s that I don’t require a lot of sleep.
Q: How do you pull that off, from years of being an athlete?
A: Nah, I swear to God this is true, my life is so good, I don’t want to waste any minute of it sleeping. I hate sleeping.
Q: You know what Sam Elliott said in the movie “Road House?”
A: No, but that’s one of my favorite movies. Say it and I’ll probably remember it.
Q: “Doc, I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.”
A: That’s right.
Q: Come on, that should have rolled off the tongue.
A: You’re right. I’m very disappointed in myself. I’ll take from that movie what I always get. Because I’m on TV, when people meet me in real life, they say, “I thought you would be bigger.”
Q: Were you a good fighter?
A: That’s why I’m a promoter.
Q: Seriously, any skills?
A: You want to know the truth? At one point in my life, I believed that’s what I wanted more than anything. I was so into it. And one day, I was in the gym, and this guy walked in. Locally, a lot of people knew him. He was 35 years old, his career was over and he was shadow boxing around the gym and I looked at him and thought, “Oh my God, what if that’s me when I’m 35?” That was the day I realized I wasn’t a real fighter. Real fighters are different from you and me. They’re made differently, man. That’s what they were put on this Earth to do.
Q: Why is UFC so popular?
A: The reality is it is the most exciting live sporting event you will ever see. I don’t care what color you are, what country you come from or what language you speak, at the end of the day, we’re all human beings and fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it. I could throw all kinds of stats and proof at you from my business, but this is what I truly believe — fighting was the first sport ever. Before a guy hit a ball with a stick, before a guy threw a ball through a hoop, I think two men were put on this Earth, somebody threw a punch and whoever was around there, they ran over and watched the fight.
Q: At one point, is it true you were $44 million in the hole?
A: Yeah, in 2005, we were about $30 million in the hole, we couldn’t get on TV, so we funded the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” for 10 million bucks. So we were $44 million in the hole.
Q: You ever doubt yourself?
A: I always believed in the sport. The question is, is the timing right? It could be the right idea at the wrong time.
Q: Now I read your estimated worth is $200 million?
Q: Maybe that’s gone up?
A: Things are doing really well.
Q: What about the company?
A: The company is worth about $2.5 billion.
Q: Exceeded expectations?
A: No, it hasn’t. I’ve been saying this since day one, and people really thought I was a lunatic, that this could be the biggest sport in the world. What I am surprised about is how fast this has happened.
Q: Scratching the surface?
A: We haven’t even scratched the surface for how big this thing is going to be. I don’t consider us mainstream yet. Mainstream, to me, is if you walked out into the main street of any major city in America and asked them what “American Idol” is. Everyone can tell you what “American Idol” is. Not everyone can tell you what UFC is.
Q: People still don’t know who UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is.
Q: How long would you last with him?
A: In a fight with him? About 21/2 seconds. I weigh about 205. He walks at 300.
Q: How excited are you about coming to Indy?
A: I’m looking forward to it big time. The place is going to be sold out and that place is going to be rocking. Any time we go to a new market, it’s so much fun. When those 18,000 people leave, they will go infect another 10 to 15 people with what they saw there that night. That’s how this whole buzz keeps rolling. I call it spreading the virus.