Modern MMA is full of controversial personalities, but none of them have worked as hard as Dana White to make it a mainstream sport. The UFC president helped save the company from bankruptcy and turn it into the powerhouse that it is today. He also made hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
Starting as a small-time boxercise coach, Dana’s career has been a rollercoaster ride from the beginning. From dealing with mobsters to being threatened by his own fighters, he’s also built himself as a brand along with the UFC. The ruthless White is very vocal and has made many infamous statements.
Let’s take a look at the interesting life of the man who’s had a large hand in revolutionizing cage fighting.
Dana White Age, Early Life, and Education
Dana Frederick White Jr. was born on July 28th, 1969 to his parents Dana and June White. White is of Irish-American ancestry and was born and raised in Manchester, Connecticut. His mother raised him alone along with his sister, Kelly.
She was always working and his dad was an alcoholic, so his parents weren’t home very often. Dana worked a number of jobs after graduating from Hermon High School. By the time he was 19, he had worked as a bouncer, a bellman, and a road paver. He had also picked up boxing during this time.
He realized he wasn’t good enough to be a pro boxer and would hence pursue a career as a boxercise coach. Dana shifted to Boston, Massachusetts to work. His boxercise classes were supported by the local municipality and aimed at getting kids off the street. He and his partner would also train private clients.
He’d start getting threatening calls from gangsters (working for Whitey Bulger) asking him for extortion money. Dana would ignore them until he got a threatening phone call to pay them by the next day. This would cause him to fly out of Boston to Las Vegas.
Dana kept giving boxercise classes in Vegas and would manage future UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz early in their careers. In 2001, he convinced his childhood friend Lorenzo Fertitta and his older brother Frank to buy the struggling UFC for $2 million.
Becoming President of the UFC
White was made the president of the UFC and he put in a lot of effort to make it a household name. When the UFC deal was made, the company only had its identity and an old octagon cage. They continued holding events but they kept on losing money
The company would advertise better and get better sponsorships. White also got them back on cable PPVs and ensured plenty of DVD and home video releases. The UFC would eventually land a deal with Fox Sports Net, a major television network.
They also hosted shows in the finest of arenas in Vegas such as the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Dana would put on exciting matchups and even brought back Ken Shamrock for a third match against Tito Ortiz at the highly successful UFC 40 in November 2002.
Launching The Ultimate Fighter (TUF)
In order to save the company, Dana decided to go with the Fertitta bros’ idea of an MMA-based reality show on TV. It was to be called The Ultimate Fighter and after a series of rejections by many big channels, Dana convinced Spike TV to air it by offering to pay for the production costs.
This move by Dana was a massive success and it garnered very high ratings. This got the UFC a lot of popularity and it brought more eyes to their PPVs. By 2005, the company was racking up high PPV sales and its fighters were getting mainstream attention.
Buying out Strikeforce, WEC, and Pride
With more and more success, White’s company started buying out rivals such as Strikeforce, WEC, and Pride among others. As a result, he was able to feature all of their stars on his UFC cards. Dana also brought in Brock Lesnar who was a massive draw for the UFC.
The company was easily making hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Dana ensured that they expand to video games and toys, along with many more streams of revenue. The UFC would break all of the attendance records in the continent as well.
At the prime of its existence, the company was eventually sold to WME-IMG in 2016. While Dana was hesitant about it at first, he’d continue being the president. Then came the successful Dana White’s Contender Series which scouted young talents for the UFC.
Dana would secure a streaming deal with ESPN in 2019 and he signed a contract making him the UFC president until 2026.
Dana White’s Brief Boxing Promotion Career
At the height of Conor McGregor’s popularity, Dana would follow him into the boxing world. He’d co-promote the Mayweather vs McGregor matchup, aka the highest-grossing boxing bout ever. However, he recently said that he’s done with the sport and doesn’t want to promote its events.
Dana White Outside MMA
Dana is very opinionated in the media. He is shown to be ruthless and has dissed many of his fighters over pay issues.
Dana has also been criticized heavily by his mother for his shrewd nature. She even wrote a book about him to demean him. Dana has suffered from Ménière’s disease.
What is Dana White’s Net Worth?
Dana White is thought to be worth around $500 million.
Is Dana White Married?
Dana White is married but has kept his wife Anne and his three children out of the intense spotlight that being president of the UFC brings.