Dana White Says He’s Not Exiting the UFC — But Should He?

MMA Dana White
Credit: Andrius Petrucenia (WC)

UFC President Dana White has publicly stated (via the Los Angles Times) that he’s not leaving the promotion any time soon. Place your bets, ladies and gentleman. Given White’s track record as a truth-teller, he could be gone any day now.

Doing his best impression of a cross between Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura, White told the paper that “I’m not going anywhere, brother. Not only am I not going anywhere, I’m actually making moves in the office and doing [stuff] and changing things for the way I really want it.”

“I’m burrowing myself in like a … tick.” Too bad he didn’t say Alabama tick.

White’s statement that he’s not about to leave the fight business, or at least the UFC, would not be news were it not for the fact that parent company WME-IMG is currently in the process of buying out minority stakeholders, of which White is one. That, combined with the fact that his fiery public persona is often as much a hindrance as an asset, would seem to make it a perfect time for White to exit stage left.

After all, what more does White have to prove? He took a nearly dead mixed martial arts promotion struggling in the sport’s infancy and turned it into a powerhouse that sold for over four billion dollars a year ago. Does putting on one, or five, or ten more years worth of fight cards really matter after that? White certainly doesn’t need the money, either; he netted somewhere in the range of $400 million when the UFC sold last year (per the L.A. Times Lance Pugmire).

Now, Dana White is as much P.T. Barnum as Bob Arum, and these days suckers are probably born quicker than one per minute. There’s a chance White saying “I’m not going anywhere” is another “the UFC is not for sale” moment, where he simply cannot or will not speak of the matter. Exiting stage left after Mayweather-McGregor would probably be the perfect moment, so maybe he’s holding out for that one last hurrah, even if he was but a small cog in a very big wheel bringing that fight together.

If that’s not the case, well, perhaps it should be. Recent feuds with the likes of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, Tyron Woodley, Anderson Silva, Cris Cyborg (all water under the bridge on that one, right?), Georges St. Pierre, and others have been well documented after all. The UFC President far too often overshadows his own fighters, at least most of those outside a very exclusive group. Making a suit (even if White rarely acts like a business man) the face of the company is pure folly, one you don’t see other promotions replicating. We know Scott Coker, of course, but he was never the “face” of Strikeforce any more than he is the “face” of Bellator.

For years, Dana White has been the driving factor in the UFC’s success. There’s no question there. He’s just as responsible for the majority of its flaws, however — and the time is perfect for a regime change.