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Snowden: Dana White Wins Again

It hurts me to say it, but Dana White is the best and most important promoter in the history of MMA. No one else is even close. White took a sport that was floundering, a promotion that was giving away tickets to a five thousand seater in New Jersey (available only on satellite television) and turned it into a billion dollar company.

Today, I walked the Las Vegas strip and saw the fruits of White’s labor everywhere. There were giant video screens promoting the fight at the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, and the Monte Carlo. Fans were out in force, sporting Tapout, Affliction, and UFC gear along with their ubiquitous and copious tats.

The after-parties aren’t at a Hooters anymore, or a disgusting local strip joint. B.J Penn will celebrate, win or lose, at the classy Studio 54. The UFC, and with it the whole sport of MMA, has arrived — and Dana White deserves the bulk of the credit. It’s an obvious point, but one worth making as White continues to face constant criticism from hardcore fans and the online media (often one and the same). And it’s why when bloggers and Dana clash, I’m putting my money on White.

Some fans vehemently oppose Saturday’s superfight between B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre, claiming the matchup isn’t fair to possible title contenders like Thiago Alves and Kenny Florian. Because Penn and St. Pierre are both champions, it will be months before these worthy contenders get an opportunity to fight for the title. If Penn wins Saturday, it could mean that each title is only defended once a year. White’s response at yesterday’s press conference was clear and to the point: “Who gives a shit.”

Dana has yet to take a single lesson in tact, but he makes a strong point. Critics are everywhere. If he listened to them, he would have never brought back legends like Gracie and Shamrock to headline his most successful shows. He would have never revitalized the business with a reality television show that many thought was demeaning to the athletes. He would have never brought in a pro wrestler like Brock Lesnar and given him the opportunity to be the promotion’s top star. And he wouldn’t be a multi-millionaire. In short, the UFC would have followed the other promotions that catered to hardcore fans right into bankruptcy.

It takes a certain gift to understand what people want to buy. It’s equally hard to sell people something you have, but that they don’t know they want. White has both of these gifts. He and Joe Silva understand that fans want more from their fights than technically proficient challengers like Alves or Machida in lackluster main events. The fans want big, they want spectacle, and for $50 you better deliver.

Saturday, the UFC delivers and what’s bigger than the two best fighters in the world stepping into the cage? Despite being a rematch, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see two champions collide. The UFC hasn’t had a fight like this since UFC Champion Mark Coleman took on Extreme Fighting Champion Maurice Smith all the way back at UFC 14. It’s two huge stars, in their fighting and physical primes, two of the very best at the height of their powers. It is an epic fight. But White’s too good a promoter to leave the fight to sell itself.

He’s taken the best from boxing and created his own 24/7, the amazing UFC Primetime. Now the super fight is also one of the most highly anticipated of all time. After watching the last installment of the brilliant three part special, how could you not want to see who prevails? How can you not love B.J. for his brash words and running the rock? How could you not love GSP and the circle of great people he’s surrounded himself with?

How could you not want to see the biggest fight of all-time?

Dana White wins again.

43 COMMENTS
  • WebGarden says:

    Why would you “hate to say it”? Dana truly deserves a ton of credit, but with that of course comes a lot of hate (aka jealousy) from the Internet mob. I’m not referring to yourself, Snowden, but mma newbies across the web. The folks who are quick to criticize Dana (and the UFC), should read your piece here. Very well written, indeed.

    p.s. – How can I not love BJ for his brash words? Easily, lol. GSP will be victorious again on Sat night and truly expose BJ.

  • madiq says:

    The troubling thing about this post is that it takes the collective efforts of a multi-million dollar corporate entity, with various personalities and particularized strengths, and personifies them in one individual. While it is cool nowadays to act like it’s the case, Zuffa and Dana White are not synonymous. *He* may be laughing all the way to the bank, but he’s still more of a figurehead than the sole reason for the sport’s success. Reality show? He had to be sold on the idea. Bringing back Tito? Dana was against it. 24-7 style documentaries? Not his creation, and suggested by the MMA blogosphere IMMEDIATELY after the success of the DeLaHoya-Mayweather series.

    I get your point that a successful promoter should temper the extent that he/she listens to hardcore fans and purists, but you overstate the point, because often the media provides a check on the possible excesses of unilateralism. They too can shape the expectations of the masses, and they absolutely should, because they are meant to speak for notions of the greater good, not the single good.

    And here’s a little food for thought — the winner of BJ Penn vs. GSP quite possibly be viewed as the biggest star in our sport, and what happens if one of Dana White’s personality-based outbursts offends him, leading to another Jon Fitch debacle? Who will “win” if BJ walks away with two belts in tow this time, or if St. Pierre, who might rightfully be seen as the sport’s answer to Michael Jordan, decides to put his sponsor’s promotion on his back…or at the very least, threatens to hold out if he can’t wear their signature gear? The evolution of the sport will have many temporary winners and losers, but it remains to be seen whether DW — like Don King before him — ends up being good for the sport or not.

  • TooDiesel says:

    I disagree – I’m on the fence with this PPV, and I’m not buying into the hype. This same fight, I believe, wasn’t even the main event 3 years ago. No offense to either fighter (I’m a fan of both), but they each have only defended their title once. I agree it’s a big fight, but the hype surrounding it is largely unwarranted, when compared to other fights (Rampage vs Hendo, for example, I believe is much more historically significant).

  • Lord Faust says:

    Yeah, I too am curious when people use the qualifier “I hate to say it”. Seems like a pre-emptive evasion for any (ill-informed) criticism that will come from the folks who just hate Dana White because …. he’s Dana White.

    I agree with your article, but you shouldn’t “hate to say” anything. What good is a journalist who is reluctant in his opinions?

    Either way, keep up the good work.

  • Lord Faust says:

    “This same fight, I believe, wasn’t even the main event 3 years ago.”

    The differences between now and 3 years ago are so vast it’s not worth mentioning.

  • Jonathan Snowden says:

    “The troubling thing about this post is that it takes the collective efforts of a multi-million dollar corporate entity, with various personalities and particularized strengths, and personifies them in one individual”

    You are right. I am using Dana White as a stand-in for Zuffa’s whole promotional team. Didn’t mean to suggest that Dana was alone in creating this great show.

  • Tyler says:

    How long are people going to keep writing article’s about what Dana White has meant to the sport and how he turn around the UFC and he’s a great promoter and blah, blah, blah. Enough already!
    I’d like an honest article to come out about how he lies to the media and general public about fighters not part of the UFC.
    How he has prospered financially on the blood and sweat of fighters who he has discarded so easily when they’ve past their prime or wanted their own slice of the pie and then bad mouths them in public now that they’ve moved on to other organizations.
    Or how he continually tries to make himself and not any of the fighters the face of the organization. Try and name another company president that has his own fan base.
    Also to go in depth about his checkered past to say the least or the fact that the man has on a consistent basis tried to put a stranglehold on an industry where the top fighters would have no alternative but to cave in to the UFC’s strict contract demands and if they don’t have their named smeared in the media.
    This guy has bull shitted most MMA fans into thinking that when a fighter has either left with contract issues or has been put on the shelf because they won’t agree to an extension (Arlovski, Huerta) that it’s the fighters fault not UFC management and people buy it. It’s a joke.

  • madiq says:

    And to defend the author, sometimes when a person has a big ego, it may pain you to say things that could feed that ego, and lead to more bragging and grandstanding, even if it’s true.

  • ape says:

    Dana White WAS a good promoter but it has all when to his head and it makes me sick. I say F Dana!
    Dana White = GREED

  • TooDiesel says:

    “The differences between now and 3 years ago are so vast it’s not worth mentioning.”

    – I disagree, BJ is only on a 3 fight winning streak (including a win against Jens Pulver who fights @ 135 and is 1-3 since then), and while GSP has been more impressive, he still has a glaring first round TKO loss to Matt Serra recently, which is why GSP hasn’t been able to get the Anderson Silva fight that’s been rumored.

  • Tim says:

    I have nothing but admiration for Dana White and what he has done.

    This fight is HUGE, and to me, deserves all the hype its getting. The 3 part series showcasing BJ and GSP the last 3 Wednesdays was great.

    I am leaning towards BJ but I’m not sure how anyone could bet against GSP, what a fight. Thanks for making this fight happen Dana, and if you hate Dana, let me steal his line from the article …. Who gives a S***

  • yuushi says:

    If people don’t get what Dana White has done for the sport, there’s really no helping them at this point. It was he who convinced his friends, the Ferttita’s to buy the UFC when it was failing 9 years ago. He (and they) brought the UFC and the sport to where it is today.

    And I totally agree with the author that if he ran the UFC like the hardcore want him to, he’d be where Affliction is right now–some good shows, but really nothing to show for it but a lot of RED.

  • JBAR says:

    Most people who sell a product market their product as being the best and claim their competition’s product is inferior, Dana is no different he just does not worry as much about being politically correct. He has done great things for the sport of MMA with the support of the Fertitta’s and also has had several failures along the way. The situation with Randy and not getting Fedor signed are 2 that come to mind. However the sport of MMA that we know and love would not be able to support the quantity or quality of fighters we have today without his efforts, the money just would not be there.

  • Mike says:

    What is the point of this article?

  • RoadsideGraphix says:

    Dana is the man but I would love to see him get beat up at least once.

  • HexRei says:

    I would also like to point out that just because something is good for the UFC, does not mean it is fair in terms of the sport. Yes he has grown it amazingly, that does not mean he is perfect or beyond criticism.

  • awilliams16 says:

    Dana is right… “Who gives a shit.” The UFC is *the* premier MMA company on planet earth. Other promotions aside. No one has ever had this type of exposure… no one. Not Affliction, not Pride, not EliteXC…(yes I know they’re dead). Regardless of supposed tactics or lies what-have-you. Dana deserves a ton of credit for bringing this sport to people like me who used to love watching Bruce Lee, Jean-Claude Van Dam movies (Bloodsport- one of my favorites), and Chuck Norris movies. It’s common to see a ton of teenage kids wearing UFC hats and TAPOUT clothing in malls and schools. High School and College wrestlers now have their MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL.
    The replay for UFC 91 on Spike had something like 3 million plus viewers! On a cable network that used to play Country music videos all day! Are you kidding?
    He’s not apologetic, nor is he complacent. He’s described as one of the hardest working people in Las Vegas and for good reason! Say what you want about hype… but isn’t that the point of a promoter? Hype, hype, hype til people feel like they’re missing out not paying $$$ for a seat or $44.99 on PPV . Convince the sheep, (fans, newbies, experts), that *this* pay-per-view, *this* week of TUF— Can’t be missed… I applaud Dana White and Zuffa for making me, (a over-weight recovering PC gamer/baseball-aholic) a fan. I look forward to those one or two Saturdays a month that I get to see the best mixed martial artists in the world fight inside the octagon; all in the comfort of a couch. I look forward to the next episode of the Ultimate Fighter.
    I have a relatively new (3 years) addiction that I love to being hooked on. I bought a DVR just so I could record TUF and UFC Unleashed while I was away… Yes it’s that bad…

  • Joseph says:

    Dana ridicules Fedor.
    Fedor > Dana
    Fedor = MMA
    MMA != UFC
    UFC = Dana

    Therefore,

    MMA > UFC

  • Erik W. says:

    “This same fight, I believe, wasn’t even the main event 3 years ago.”

    Why would it have been when neither was a champion, and there was a title fight on the card?

    And what difference does it make where the original fight was slotted on the card? The fact is that it’s champion vs champion now, and that has a ton of juice, and the re-match aspect only adds to what’s already a compelling match-up.

  • Rich B says:

    The Sherdogization of the message board continues.

  • MauiPimpin says:

    I think you mean “Sherdoggery” or “Sherdogification”

  • JOe K. says:

    So long as they keep a good balance of money making fights and competitively deserved fights I’m A-Okay

  • EamonJGod says:

    “I hate to say it,” I knew you were a Dana hater Snowden, hahaha, but you gave him his due in this article. Like I said before he is an asshole but knows what he’s doing.

  • Jonathan Snowden says:

    Personally, Dana has been kind to me whenever I have seen him at shows. It’s just that I don’t want to see his head grow any larger…

    “What is the point of this article?”

    In a nutshell? Hardcore fans are wrong to prefer a card of Penn v. Florian and GSP v. Alves to a card with one superfight. Dana is right. This is why the UFC makes boatloads of cash and most other promoters only seem to give it away.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I want to see BJ and GSP fight. Both have improved since their last fight, and it’s worth the money to me. I also want to see Alves and Florian get their title shots. And I’ll be I’m not disappointed; they will contend for the titles in the near future. All the “I hate Dana” rhetoric is pointless.

  • madiq says:

    I think that it’s not that hardcore fans prefer GSP-Alves and Penn-Florian to GSP-Penn, but that FAIRNESS dictates that Alves and Florian get their long-deserved shots, and then, if both win, they truly would have “cleaned out” their respective divisions, and then the Superfight would be bigger. Is it a risky proposition? Of course, but every tuneup fight is. However, I think that sometimes, buildup works.

  • R/p says:

    If this is truly a sport then the most worthy should be fighting each other, not the most marketable. It is very sad state of affairs to see things turn this way. Maybe I’m a purist but it’s the truth.

    Also Dana is very disrespectful to fighters outside of the UFC and is beyond tactless in public. They don;t want to promote the sport; they make it seem like if it isn’t the UFC it isn’t MMA. This tough guy act he puts on is solely from their position as the top guy now. Go look at when he entered Chuck in the ’03 GP. He was quiet more humble and that was because PRIDE was bigger and better. Back then Dana loved the idea of copromotion. It’s just hilarious to me; it’s like the nerd in high school getting successful and becomes a dick to everyone because he wasn’t liked.

  • kingtcb says:

    Ha all these posts about hating DW and how this bj vs gsp means nothing and blah blah is so sad. Are you kidding me this fight means nothing?? 2 fighters who could easily be considered best p4p fighters in the world squaring up is an amazing fight. People that bitch should just stop watching mma or just build there own organization because obviously you are all pros and could easily put dana outta business in your eyes. Stop being little girls and enjoy the fight and enjoy whatever dana does because obviously you can’t do anything about it

  • R/p says:

    So because you can;t change there’s no reason to criticize. Good logic. Jon Fitch gets cut over a video game but don’t complain you can’t change it/

  • HexRei says:

    totally agreed R/P

  • cornerman says:

    We as spectators should just watch the freakin fights and enjoy the spectacle that some of them bring. I could care less about the politics of it. If Jimmy ‘crack’ Corn and Joe ‘blow’ McGo fight a good entertaining fight then I’m satisfied paying for it. The hype is rarely justified. Case in point Fedor/Andrei, I would have loved to see 5 rounds of that. The hype would have been out shined completely. Not saying it was a total let down but let’s face facts it really is just another win for Fedor, not much more. I’m not trying to discredit his KTFO of Andrei I’m simply saying that a true slugfest or grapple clinic is worth more to me than hyped up super fights that rarely deliver. If this fight actually ends up being fight of the year or even a classic bawl for the ages I’ll be the next one clamoring for Fedor/Mir or Penn/Aoki or Evans/Silva but for now I’m very satisfied with Thiago/Lyoto and Sonnen/Maia.

  • wwefans says:

    Right, its all about the promotion and not about the fighter. Exactly your philosophy … Who cares about the hard work Florian and Machida and Alves put in time and time again … who gives a shit of a 2-1 former pro wrestling is getting paid more then the champ in the main event (ufc 81) … Who gives a shit if two major belts are defended twice a year? Thats exactly right, who gives a shit! I say Affliction gives a shit, that’s who!

  • screwface says:

    dana is the man and deserves your respect. you dont have to like him but you gotta respect him. without him our sport would be nowhere, hes made mma a legitimate respectable sport, when it was looked at as nothing short of barbaric before. and without ufc what would be watching? rumor has it affliction is already done, just wating on the official announcement now. if thats true another 1 bites the dust, if not true its still inevitable. nobody can duplicate danas success. and to be honest i really dont like dana. i think hes an arrogant prick. but dammit if i dont have mad respect for him. used to be hard gettin enough friends over to put in money for the next ppv, but now u gotta turn em away, and every bar fights to get ur business by promising to have it on. dana did that 😉

  • htown-chris says:

    reading the article it didnt say dana was single handidly responsible for making the ufc what it is. but he is responsible for the marketing of the ufc. if you dont know the history of the ufc then that is why you cant comprehend the magnitude of this fight. if penn winsits the first time since the induction of weight classes in the ufc that a fighter has held two titles in two divisions. i would much rather see two champions fight versus watching a champ defend his title against a contendar.

  • RICK says:

    OMG if running a promotion was so easy we would all be doing it. Obviously its not and he must be doing something right (maybe not everything), but something. Lets give credit where credit is due. We all wanted super fights from Pride days vs UFC back then. We have one going on in the best organzation in the world and peeps want to complain. OMG

  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    “Hardcore fans are wrong to prefer a card of Penn v. Florian and GSP v. Alves to a card with one superfight. ”

    Pretty bold statement.
    Haven’t you learned?Hardcore fans are never wrong.

  • JBAR says:

    Dana is like the QB of the UFC. He gets all of the glory for the good things the UFC has done and he gets all of the backlash for the mistakes. Dana has alot of control in the UFC but he is not the only one, he is just the public face of UFC management.

  • kidneybeans says:

    I love the UFC but it sort of seems like the BCS of mma sometimes. Lets get some tournaments together and let the fighters determind who the best is, Not Dana “dickskin” White and Joe “the invisible man” Silva. DREAM tournaments are the greatest thing mma has going right now, just think how awesome it would be if the UFC did the same thing with the talent they have. I’ve heard all the arguments against tournaments in the UFC but for me, it’s the only true competition.

  • Axl says:

    Look at what Dana did to Jon Fitch!!
    He has him on the aundercard to teach him a lesson, not to mess with him!?
    How pathetic is that!?
    He is killing MMA man!!!!

    FITE DANA WHITE!!
    Say it with me!!!

  • Bear says:

    All this Dana bashing is pointless. I understand the inherent right of every fight fan to throw their 2 cents in about the commercialization of the sport but facts are facts…Has Dana made MMA matter on a broader scale? YES. Nuff said. All this armchair QBing because he is an Ass doesnt make sense.
    With all that being said….i think there is one HUGE component missing here in the discussion–the fighters themselves do not get enough credit in the recent success of this sport! Dana and everyone else need to show more respect to the efforts, both in and out of the octagon, of the “talent” in this wave of success.

  • yuushi says:

    I love the UFC but it sort of seems like the BCS of mma sometimes. Lets get some tournaments together and let the fighters determind who the best is, Not Dana “dickskin” White and Joe “the invisible man” Silva. DREAM tournaments are the greatest thing mma has going right now, just think how awesome it would be if the UFC did the same thing with the talent they have. I’ve heard all the arguments against tournaments in the UFC but for me, it’s the only true competition.

    Can’t do tournaments in the US. Least not without them being way watered down (anyone remember YAMMA and their HW Tournament?)

    I can understand you wanting something different in the UFC, but at least be realistic.

  • tallsforeverybody says:

    The only reason we have MMA to watch is Dana White’s vision and the Fertita money.

    A few other things factor in but only to a small degree in comparison to what Dan/Fertitas/UFC have accomplished.

    The Gracie concept helped everyone put to rest the age old question about martial arts, but you can thank no one but Zuffa for what we all enjoy every week.

    No one else even exists today who has a clue as to how to build a sport and a business outside of Zuffa.

    Quit hating just because you think you fit the “hard core” definition of a fan.

    Reality is that you are not as “hard core” as you think.

  • Meatloaf says:

    @tallsforeverybody, Some people disagree with Dana White’s non sense simply because they (I included) think he’s an asshole. Not to pretend to be “hard core” as you put it.
    By the way hardcore is one word.

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