Sharing a conversation with Dana White. Here are answers to a bunch of meaningless questions.
Favorite Movie - Raging Bull
Favorite Toy - ipod I have 7 of them
Favorite Job - Bouncer and $6.25 / hour
Best Baseball Game Ever - Yankees verse Red Socks in Boston
What did you want to be when you were a kid? - Lawyer
Most Recent download - Rage Against the Machine is my
favorite to train to.
Favorite Boxer - Muhammad Ali. I am a bit of a freak, I have a large collection,
I loved his style. I also love
Haggler and Tyson
One of Your Favorite Fight MMA - Hughes - Trigg II
First Car - Madza 626
Katalin Rodriguez-Ogren (Kat): From the point of acquiring the UFC, you must have had a strategy in mind. Did your original strategy that you had for the UFC include all that has happened to the UFC in the past few years?
Dana White (DW): Yes, it did. We had a five-year plan in mind when we bought the company. And we did everything in four years. We are beyond the original plan.
Kat: How did you make the transition from the acquisition of the UFC to this level of success? How did you execute your plan?
DW: It's been a lot of trial and error. When we were sitting watching the first show we had ever seen, which was in New Orleans, we sat there saying, 'Imagine if we did this, and changed that.' The old owner Bob Meyerwitz didn't care about the live event, inside the house. All he was focused on was the television, and we disagreed with that. We thought the in the house live shows could be taken to another level and increase ticket sales, which would generate more revenue. Bob didn't think about it that way. One of the biggest challenges we had was to tweak the production right to where we wanted it. I think you saw that in the earlier shows. We would do a show and this is when we did 5 shows a year and keep changing it. You would watch a show in September and two months later things would be completely different. From the entrance, to the show open, the music, lighting...We kept changing stuff over and over.
Kat: So would you say you used each show to learn how to do a better job the next time?
DW: Yes, we would change the way the interviews were done, the features, the show open, and the graphics. People don't really think about stuff like that. Even announcers - think about how many different announcers we have had over the last 4 years. Over the last couple of years it has been pretty solid.
Kat: How long do you think the UFC can stay on top, or do you think it has peaked now, based on its 5-year plan?
DW: We haven't even scratched the surface.
Kat: You really don't think so?
DW: No, No, Nobody really knows what the UFC is right now. It hasn't even scratched the surface.
Kat: Since the UFC has grown in popularity, many have observed that it is beating boxing. Boxing is on a downswing. Which is sad for people like me who love boxing. I hate to see it dieing as a sport. You are definately moving in their territory and competing with their pay per view sales. When do you think MMA fighters will get salaries that reflect the same type of payday that boxers get, the million dollar paydays?
Kat: Do you think your background in boxing and martial arts has contributed to your ability to run this organization and company?
DW: No I think, there are a lot guys that box, I think my passion for fighting for the business has helped us. Plus it's not all about me. I have a great staff. All these guys work their asses off and I have a great team.
Kat: Do you have a business philosophy or have you adopted a business model. Have you dove into the philosophy of the Michael Gerbers, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey - to help you lead the company?
DW: I cant fucking believe you just said this (laughing and shaking his head)! I can't believe you just asked me that. I used to listen to the Tony Robbins cds non-stop. I was about 21, 23 I used to listen to that shit every day. I was going through my office the other day and just found them.
Kat: Do you think you have applied them and that they worked?
DW: No doubt about it. Do I think about it today, all the time, No. But when I was younger, Yes. When you listen to that shit, everything he says makes sense. And when you start it doesn't matter what you do. I was in the fight game. I owned boxing gyms and I don't care what you do, you are a janitor or CEO of a company. It applies to every body's life. When I was going though my office and cleaning it out I gave it to my cousins and his friends who could really use it. I said here you go knuckleheads you need this.
Kat: A long time ago you managed an inner-city boxing program for kids in Boston. Has the UFC considered creating a non-for-profit for kids that need more opportunities to train in the MMA? Like how Oscar de la Hoya did with his ranch and LA based programs? As you build the UFC's popularity, don't you feel that on some level you have a sense of responsibility to encourage kids and contribute to the MMA community and facilitate the training of future fighters - so they can come up in the game. Because many kids don't have the $150 a month to pay for Gracie lessons.
DW: Every year we donate to tons of charities. We get many letters from kids, wrestling teams that need funding. I fund a lot of them. But otherwise it is a great idea and I would be very interested in looking at something like that. The difference between boxing and MMA is - kids from middle class families didn't box, you didn't even know how to go find a place to box. Because boxing was in the ghetto and in the rough neighborhoods. Middle class kids would be scared shitless to even walk into a place like that and parents were scared to take them. They take their kids to martial arts and go in and pay for it. The company that I started, where we would teach people how to box, was basically created because of my first boxing experience. When I went in to learn how to box, I went into the gym it was the old school ole' crusty guys in there (he makes a grouchy growl sound). I went into the gym and this place actually had dues, it was 3 bucks a month. I paid my three buck, they had a ring, bags, - Have you ever seen ring circles? So they showed me how to do ring circles, keep your feet spread. So they said do a three-minute round and then rest. I was in there an hour and half doing ring circles. So I left and came back the next day and they had me doing the same thing. I did it for about a month.
Kat: How old were you?
DW: 17, So, finally one day I get pissed off and say 'I have been coming to this place for a fucking month and I haven't thrown one punch, nobody had taught me how to box. I'm getting in the ring and fucking running in circles.' So they all looked around and said,' Oh, this guys wants to learn how to box, he wants to learn how to box, Oh,.' So they fucking gear me up and start putting the gloves on me and the headgear and throw me in with a guy that beats the shit out of me. He dropped me with about 50 body shots. They just kicked the shit out of me. Went home that night, laid in bed. And all I could think about was the sparring. Thinking about the punches coming and then I went back the next day. From then on they worked with me. The old school trainers would put time into these guys that would disappear after they had their first fight and they would never see them again. They would realize Holy Shit I don't like getting punched in the face. And that was the way you had to learn how to box in those days. So I thought, imagine if I took people who want to learn how to box, they paid me and they don't have to go through all that. And that was how I started my first business. The only way those guys made money is if they took a guy and trained them all the way up to a title shot.
Kat: But most didn't do it to make money.
DW: Exactly, but that was the only way those guys made money in those days. Yet four or five flakes come and they waste their time putting their energy into a kid. It's amazing.
Kat: I own a boxing gym so I understand - none of the fighters pay. You just don't charge the ones that are really trying to make it into a career. You don't make money off of them - they don't pay your rent.
DW: Exactly - I know. When I started my boxing gyms, I had three of them in Las Vegas, I didn't want to see a fucking fighter any where near the gym (laughter). First they scare the real customers away, they're spitting all over the floor and shit, and they don't pay for anything and want everything for free.