In an alternate universe, American Top Team owner Dan Lambert bought the UFC back when it was up for sale in 2000. And it sucks now.

Thankfully, the original owners of the UFC – Semaphore Entertainment Group – sold the promotion to Zuffa LLC, and, well, you know what happened after that. But it could’ve gone so much differently. As per MMAFighting:

Dan Lambert was so close to buying the UFC in 2001 that he had a deposit down and there was a closing date scheduled. But the American Top Team owner is glad it didn’t work out.

Lambert told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that if he had bought the Ultimate Fighting Championship back then he would have kept it small — he didn’t have nearly the vision or funds of Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta and Dana White.

“If it ever comes up, the only thing I think is how fortunate all the fighters and managers and fans are that it ended up the way it did, in the hands of the guys it was,” Lambert said. “They put a ton of time and a ton of money and ate a lot of losses before it turned around. I’d love to think of what the business was back then and how the fighters survived back then and then I look at how many people have jobs and make livings now and pretty decent ones at times based on that.”

Lambert said had he bought the promotion he would have kept it small, running just two or three shows per year and hoping MMA would get regulated in every state. After New Jersey regulated a UFC show in 2001 and Nevada was set to do it, the Fertittas came on and made Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG) a better offer…

If Lambert had purchased the UFC, he said it would look quite different today.

“It may have stayed around, but it would have been on a very, very, very small scale,” Lambert said. “I just didn’t want to see it go out of business. I wanted a place for our guys to fight.”

I think it’s safe to say that things worked out for the best.