An unauthorized biography of Dana White
An unauthorized biography of Dana White
Copyright 2011 June White
Smashwords Edition “When this thing is a sport, all over the entire world, and you can take the UFC to
any city in any country, just like soccer, then I did it. I did what I set out to do.
That’s why I was put on this planet. That’s my job, my destiny, whatever the
(expletive) you want to call it.”
-- Yahoo Sports, July 8, 2009.
"It's not who you are, but what you do that defines you."
-- from the movie Superman
"Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual."
-- Teddy Roosevelt Table of Contents
Dana and the UFC
Birth Certificate from Hospital
Pictures: Family at Dana’s grandmothers house & Hampton Beach
Picture: Altar Boy, Pretending to be KISS, Sailing with uncle & sister
Picture: Dana 2 yrs old
Picture: Dana 4 yrs. Old Hampton Beach
Pictures: Dana with his son at Hampton Beach
Pictures: Dana & son at arcade at Hampton Beach
Picture: Dana 3rd birthday party
Picture: Altar boy at sisters 1st. communion
Pictures: Kindergarten picture
Picture: Dana & two sons at his in-laws house
Picture: Dana & his two best friends in high school
Picture: Dana in his Don Johnson days
Picture: Dana & Brenda in Ireland
Picture: Dana at friends pub in Ireland
Picture: Dana dancing with sister at her graduation from college party Picture: St. Patty’s Day parade
Picture: Dana running in race
Picture: Dana with his uncles at party
Picture: Dana and Mom
Return to Las Vegas
Picture: Dana & grooms men
Picture: Dana & wife at wedding
Picture: Dana & wife honeymoon
Picture: Dana & son
Picture: Dana & sons at wedding
Who is Dana White today?
Dana and the fighters
Very few people can take a company on the brink of bankruptcy and turn it into a
multibillion-dollar international business in eight short years. What type of person is
able to accomplish this feat while keeping the competition from even coming close to
taking any part of the market from them?
First, if you know that the initials MMA stand for mixed martial arts, you also
know that the UFC is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the biggest promoter of
mixed martial arts in the world. If you know all of that, then you certainly would
recognize the name Dana White, King of MMA and President and part owner of the
UFC. Dana White was named Promoter of the Year from 2005 to 2008 and Nevada
Sportsman of the year in 2009; and in 2010, he was invited to speak at Oxford
University, the same place where President Reagan, Mother Teresa, and the Dali Lama
have been invited guest speakers.
There are few if any in the world who can claim the titles of President and King.
Although Dana can claim both titles, dictator could be another of those titles.
Everywhere Dana goes in the world — and the UFC is seen in more than 170 countries
and territories — his fans and the fans of MMA treat him like a rock star.
In an article titled “White Makes Hub-Bub” in the Boston Herald (August 9, 2009),
“White said, ‘I’m serious…it doesn’t make a difference to me, (but) it’s going to
happen. And it’s going to happen everywhere else all around the world. There’s no
stopping it.” Also high on White’s list is holding an event in Mexico. White said the
UFC secured a television deal for over-the-air broadcasts in Mexico and noted that the
initial results, for the broadcast of UFC 100, were an estimated 25 million Mexican
viewers tuning in.” This is what Dana’s fans love him for, the fact that he has taken
the sport of MMA to where it is today, and for Dana, there is no end in sight for the
expansion of the UFC and MMA.
Dana became involved in the sport in 2001. After four years of struggling against
enormous odds and losing money, the UFC exploded with the introduction of The
Ultimate Fighter reality show on Spike television in 2005. Now, even in these tough economic times, Dana has had no problem selling out 44,000 seat arenas, and every
year the company’s profits continue to climb.
The company is now a multi-billion dollar international business, and Dana has
made himself a multimillionaire before the age of forty. On a recent business deal, he
personally netted 66 million dollars, a far cry from his income in 1993, a mere
Dana is interviewed constantly by MMA magazines, MSNBC, Nightline, 60 Minutes,
Time Magazine, Rolling Stone Magazine, Men’s Fitness, Playboy and so many others,
and yet he is elusive about who he really is and how he became the person who has
grown the sport of MMA and the UFC into what they are today.
Who is the person who has accomplished all of this? I will tell you who Dana White
was, who he is today, and the road that took him to his present place at the top of
MMA. I have known him all his life. I am his mom. Dana and the UFC
Dana White became involved in the sport of mixed martial arts in Las Vegas,
Nevada back in 2000 when, by chance, he met some MMA fighters and started training
with them in a gym he ran in Las Vegas. Soon he was representing a couple of these
MMA fighters, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, as their manager. At the time, Dana was
teaching boxing aerobics at gyms in Las Vegas and giving private lessons to many of
the Las Vegas elite. Who would have ever guessed that a chance meeting with a few
MMA fighters would propel Dana into the world of MMA the way it has. In four short
years, he has become a multimillionaire and MMA has become a sport seen around the
world, including in Canada, Europe, Australia, the Philippines, China, and Mexico. In
fact, the UFC has created a monopoly in the world of MMA. Many have tried to take a
portion of that monopoly but all have failed. The UFC has the money, resources, and
power to dominate the world of MMA and either buys out the competition or drives
them out of the sport. Dana is ruthless in his control and dominance of the sport.
Sadly, however, that ruthlessness has also spilled into his personal life and
Those who meet Dana and write about the sport very often refer to him as a
colorful and outspoken head of the UFC, and to be certain, Dana is the person
responsible for bringing the sport of MMA to where it is today. Few people would
dispute that fact. Dana has taken MMA from a little known and little respected sport
— a sport that Senator John McCain once referred to as human cock fighting and
campaigned to put an end to — and turned it into a well-recognized international
sport that pulls in record revenues. For example, the fights in Boston this summer
pulled in more money than any sporting event ever at the Garden.
In the beginning, every state in the country, with the exception of New Jersey,
banned the UFC. Today fight results are reported in the mainstream news, 47 states
sanction MMA, millions of viewers watch the fights on pay per view, and Harley
Davidson and Anheuser-Busch are sponsors (and Bud-Light is the “official beer of the
UFC”). In 2006, the UFC’s revenues for pay-per-view events surpassed all other pay- per-view programming with over $222,000,000 in buys. In fact, UFC 66, Chuck Liddell
vs. Tito Ortiz, was the first non-boxing card to top one million pay-per-view buys in
North America. Even in these tough economic times, even in today’s recession, the
UFC continues to bring millions of dollars into the ailing economy of Las Vegas and to
increase their profits year after year.
Zuffa, LLC is the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and
Dana is President and ten percent owner. Brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta own the
other ninety percent. Dana and Lorenzo were classmates at Bishop Gorman High
School, a private Catholic school, in Las Vegas. Frank was a few years ahead of Dana
in school. In 2005, Dana and the Fertittas produced and aired The Ultimate Fighter
(TUF) reality show on Spike television, and Spike has since picked up UFC Unleashed
and UFC Fight Night. The UFC has produced live fights in England, Ireland, Canada,
Germany, Australia, and Abu Dhabi, six foreign events in a little over a year, as well
as fights every month in cities all over the United States. Dana has been working hard
to produce a fight in Madison Square Garden in New York City, and I am sure we will
see that happening soon.
Many MMA fighters have graced the covers of magazines such as Sports
Illustrated, Men’s Fitness, and ESPN the Magazine. Articles on the sport have
appeared in Rolling Stone, Time, USA Today; and 60 Minutes, MSNBC, and Nightline
have produced segments dedicated to MMA. MMA fighters have been guests on many
television shows, and some have recently starred in movies. As noted previously, Dana
was named Promoter of the Year each year from 2005 to 2008, and for good reason:
no one does a better job at promoting any type of sport than Dana. MMA is his
passion, and his true love of the sport makes him the perfect person for his job. In
fact, to Dana, promoting MMA is not a job but something he loves to get up every day
and do. But who is Dana White?
There are many articles written about Dana, where he came from, and the hard
life he had growing up. I have heard him referred to as a Southie tuff, but that is not
who Dana is and does not accurately reflect the life he has led. It is hard for me to
hear the many myths about Dana, and the way he is portrayed to the public. It is
difficult for me to see how, as the popularity of the UFC evolved, the person I once knew changed into someone who is egotistical, self-centered, arrogant, and cruel. I
liken Dana’s transformation to that of Precious in Lord of the Rings. Just as the ring
of power changed that fictional character, Dana’s power and wealth have changed
him into someone I do not recognize.
Dana’s family and friends were always there to help and support him no matter
what the circumstances. As Dana’s success grew and the circumstances of life
changed for him, he did not do the same for them. Dana went from being a true
friend, a good son, and a truly nice person to being a vindictive tyrant who lacks any
feelings for how he treats others. It is hard to say if what changed him so utterly was
the extreme amount of money he came into so quickly, the influence of those around
him, or how suddenly he could make or break so many people. Power can create ugly
beasts. In meetings that were not going Dana’s way, he has told me, he would stand
up at the conference table, (creating a psychological advantage), holler, and swear at
individuals he was dealing with. He would tell them, “I’ll bury you!” Dana has a very
short fuse and it does not take a whole lot to set him off on a totally out-of-control
tirade. These days he always gets what he wants, no matter what it takes to get it.
His employees will echo that same powerful statement: he will do whatever it takes
to get what he wants.
A good deal of Dana’s power obviously comes from the extraordinary amount of
money he has acquired in the last few years. When you have that much money,
everyone wants to be your friend, your pal, your buddy, a member of your entourage.
True friends are the ones that were there before the houses, cars, planes, fancy trips,
and extravagant parties. True friends are the ones who would share a peanut butter
sandwich with you when your refrigerator was empty and so were your pockets.
As early as when the UFC had just begun to turn around and the company was
making a profit, I could see changes in Dana that bothered me. I would always tell
him, “Keep your feet on the ground. Remember who you are and where you came
from. Don’t let your head get so big you can’t fit through a doorway.”
He always responded the same way: “You do not have to ever worry about that.”
These negative changes in Dana became more and more noticeable. I kept hoping
Dana would recognize that he was becoming a different person, that there seemed to be a correlation between his increasing wealth and his increasing unkindness to those
around him. I thought he would take a step back and look at what it was he was doing
to friends and family. As his mom, if anyone could or should say something, I felt it
would be me. Indeed, most people take advice from their moms as constructive, at
least as well intended. In an e-mail, I told my son that I wanted my old Dana back. I
felt like aliens had abducted my Dana and replaced him with this other person I really
did not know. I assumed he would at least think about what I had said and about what
it was, he was doing, but his response was the furthest thing from stepping back and
thinking about what I had just told him.
Dana immediately e-mailed me back: “Who the fuck do you think you are, talking
to me like that? No one talks to me that way.”
Of course, after the initial shock faded, I shot back, “I am your mother, that is
who I am, and don’t you ever forget that. I am not one of your fighters or
employees!” That was exactly my point in my initial email to him, that he was
treating people as if they were less than deserving of common courtesy and respect.
His next response was not what I had expected either. It was a good thing for him
I was on the east coast and he was in Las Vegas. I was so angered by his replies. My
blood pressure had to be at stroke level. We did not speak for an extended period
after that. This was the upshot of the changes in my son, and it seems to me partly
due to a mythology that grew up around him and that he did nothing to correct. In
fact, he seems to have helped spread these tales. It is time to set the record straight
about who Dana White was and who he has become.
Article after article spreads a myth of the early life of Dana White, how as a child
he endured without his mother or father around, how he had no male figures in his
life. In this fictional version of his life, Dana was a child left on his own in the mean
streets of South Boston and Las Vegas. This picture of his youth is certainly something
that makes for good reading but it is a far cry from the truth. The truth is Dana lived
a charmed life growing up in a family full of uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents
who were always around, who were all very close and spent holidays and vacations
together. Dana attended private school in Las Vegas, and from kindergarten until he
graduated high school, I always stayed on top of what was going on with his
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