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January 30, 2015

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Dana White: UFC will rule the world — and bring Vegas along for the ride


Justin M. Bowen

UFC president Dana White talks about “The Ultimate Fighter’s” latest addition, Kimbo Slice, during “TUF” media day Tuesday at the UFC training center in Las Vegas.

Dana White

Dana White

UFC will be the biggest sport in the world by 2020.

People were saying I was a lunatic 10 years ago when we first got this going, but the stuff we’re working on right now on so many levels is mind-boggling.

The UFC will be on network television in the coming years, but we’re not going to go out and do a stupid deal because we don’t need them. We built this thing without help from anybody, and that’s why the UFC has been able to flourish even in these hard times.

The sport was just sanctioned in Massachusetts and Vancouver. We’re going to get it done in Ontario and New York in 2010. And we’re already working on taking the UFC global. We’ve already done Germany, England and Ireland, and we just sold 22,000 seats for an event in Australia in 15 minutes.

Think about this: Right now in the United States, there is nothing bigger than the NFL. It is huge. But the NFL has been spending billions of dollars trying to break into other countries and it’s not working. You know why? Because these people in other countries don’t care about American football. They didn’t grow up playing it and they’re not invested in American teams.

I take two guys and put them in an octagon and they can use any martial art they want — that transcends all culture barriers. Right now we are on some form of television in over 175 countries. We’re all human beings and we all “get” fighting.

That said: Las Vegas is a Mecca for fighting.

Between the UFC and our sister company the WEC, World Extreme Cagefighting, the economic impact fighting has in Las Vegas is astronomical. And I’m from here. I lived in Boston for a while, I love it too, but the reality is I’m from Las Vegas.

Every time I walk through the back of the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay, valet parkers and waiters will stop me and say, “Dana, thank you for bringing the event here this weekend.” That’s when these guys make their money. We bring a lot of people into town for these events, and we bring them regularly.

So, in the next 10 years, Las Vegas will benefit even more from UFC’s success.

Me and Lorenzo Fertitta will sit down and figure out a game plan for the next 10 years, and we’ll execute it.

So, is 10 years enough time to make this the biggest sport in the world? Hell, yeah.

Dana White is the president of Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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