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Dana White: Is 10 years enough time to make this the biggest sport in the world? Hell, yeah

dana whiteWith a new decade on the horizon, UFC President Dana White recently took some time out of his holiday festivities to pen a quick blog for The Las Vegas Sun about his plans for the future of the UFC. True to form, Dana has big plans for 2010 and beyond.

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.

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.

To read the full blog, click here.

26 COMMENTS
  • Jak says:

    Fighting will never be the top sport.

    Not everybody likes to watch 2 people beat the sh*t out of each other. it’s just a fact.

    Among the demographic of 18-35… maybe, but that demographic has a short attention span and likes fast cars and football just as much as watch a fight.

    The only time fighting was the top sport was during the depression when boxing transcended race with guys like Jack Johnson or during a second rising of racial politics in the 60’s with Muhammed Ali.

    That’s just how i see it though.

  • Makington says:

    I’m am MMA fan before anything else, but I have to be realistic here. MMA has the potential to be the most popular world wide in the sense that he was right about it transcending cultural barriers, it will never be the biggest sport in any country. People from Europe are so insanely passionate about soccer (football oops) that there are riots between opposing fans all the time. There is nothing that can take the place of hockey in Canada, or Football in the US. The most MMA can really do is become number 2 in every country, and I guess it’s up to the individual whether they count that as being number 1 overall.

    Personally, I’m more than happy with it just being mainstream. Having equal time on the sports networks with hockey, football, and baseball, and without all these 1920’s politicians who literally believe you beat the other guy until they die but have never actually taken 15 minutes to watch a fight. Hell, I’m fine with it how it is right now if need be. I know it will keep growing and I love that, but I think our setup is pretty sweet.

    I will be totally content when MMA gets the respect that it has deserved for so long, and when it has become accepted by society.

  • MCM says:

    I don’t see MMA as ever being bigger than Soccer world wide, but with that said, the second biggest sport practiced world wide is Judo. So I do think it’s possible to make MMA one of the biggest sports in the world. Never as big as Football in the U.S. and never as big as Soccer for the rest of the World, but it wouldn’t shock me to see MMA as the number 2 to each.

  • MacBatty says:

    I totally see all your points but disagree…..Although i dont see it taking only 10 years i do think that the UFC has the potential to help make MMA the biggest sport…. For that to happen their would have to be more than the UFC…Strikeforce & Dream or any other up and coming promotion would have to succedd and stay successful…

    Fighting is the oldest sport their is….Before man invented any kind of ball their was fighting….Its ingrained in all of us at the most primal level of our being…..The cavemen fought, the Gladators fought, Even Abe Lincoln was a fighter 1st.

    I have always been a HUGE sports geek…Baseball, Football, Basketball, & Hocky…Even Fake WWE wrestling….But in the last 10 years i have become totally addicted to MMA….I still watch all the other sports….BUT i never miss a MMA card….

    I turned my wife, and like 12 of my friends…..Guys who NEVER would have come over when it was Tito Vs Chuck 1 But will NOT MISS Tito Vs Chuck 3…..

    It wont be as easy as Dana makes it seem but, you guys watch…..Pretty soon the stale ass NFL will be #2…..Ive never paid $44 to watch any football game

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    And when’s the last time you saw 2-3 live UFC events on a single day being shown for free on network television? I’d wager that’s also a “never”, so your comparison doesn’t stand up.

    What White fails to mention is that the UFC doesn’t have all of MMA’s elite talent whereas the NFL does in regards to football, MLB does in regards to baseball, etc.. For the UFC to go to the next level he’ll either need to merge the UFC with the other big organizations in the same way the NFL/AFL originally did to create the modern NFL or start forking out enough cash to put them out of business by signing every major name.

  • 3OAM says:

    The two most primal and animalistic activities a human can participate in are fighting and fxcking.

    Humans are just higher-evolved animals. Fighting will probably be the biggest sport long before 2020.

  • Jak says:

    MacBatty: I turned my wife, and like 12 of my friends…..Guys who NEVER would have come over when it was Tito Vs Chuck 1 But will NOT MISS Tito Vs Chuck 3…..

    I’m not sure i understand. Millions show up in South America and Europe for football match ups, Nascar, F-1,etc all have millions show up on a weekly basis worldwide, but you and a couple of your friends will suddenly change this because you like MMA now?

    I love mma, i fight and i’m on the forums all the time, but i’m also a realist when it comes to just how big the sport can get.

    The only way it will be the biggest sport in the world is if society erodes and we get a game show called the Running Man or a Terrordome. Or somehow the Romans take over again…

    :)

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    It cracks me up when you guys say baseball, American football and ice hockey. They are only the most popular sports in North America (USA) except for Baseball where it is popular in S. Korea, Japan and a few Latin countries. SOCCER ring any bells? (it is only popular in hundreds of countries not like NFLs 1) how about cricket, golf, Boxing, tennis, vollyball, rugby? not to mention many others. So typical. I have a question…how big is THE WORLD!!!!!!!!. he did say “the biggest sport in the world? Hell, yeah” didn’t he? not the US right?. Had to say that…anyway why does it have to be the biggest? i don’t care. I know why Dana does.

    P.S.”the second biggest sport practiced world wide is Judo” bigger than golf, Tennis, fishing or cricket. I doubt that. I would even bet karate is bigger.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

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

    Anyone else notice that. UFC not MMA. He thinks the UFC is the sport.
    I do agree though that people outside of the US don’t really care about NFL, NHL and MLB but to be honest they still care about it more than MMA sadly.

  • Vogairian says:

    MMA-LOGIC: “UFC will be the biggest sport in the world by 2020.”Anyone else notice that. UFC not MMA. He thinks the UFC is the sport.
    I do agree though that people outside of the US don’t really care about NFL, NHL and MLB but to be honest they still care about it more than MMA sadly.

    Pretty sure Hockey is a pretty big sport all across the world as is Baseball. Not as big as Soccer, but still pretty big.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Cricket, Volly ball, tennis, Feild hockey, Golf, Rugby, soccer and tabe tennis along with others are big participation sports with big fan bases too. You are right baseball and ice hockey are big sports, I apologize I was overstating it. As far as fans go baseball is ranked 7th NFL 9th and hockey well below that. Participation has them ranked even lower (below table tennis! in some instances). I just found it funny that people only mentioned American sports as if America was the world thats all.

  • king mah mah says:

    MMA is still a fairly new sport. Atleast when it comes to being mainstream. It could eventually be the biggest sport in the world, but it will take a lot longer than 10 more years.

    People have mentioned the 18-35 demographic. Well the sport will have a chance of being number 1 when those people are around 60 and their kids have grown up watching the sport with their parents.

    So yeah, it has the potential to be number 1….just not anytime soon. 10 years is unrealistic in my opinion.

  • Makington says:

    It’s not that weird logic. Most of us are atleast North American save a few brits on here, so it’s kind of natural for them to go after the North American sports. It’s just one of our paradigms. They just used NFL as a reference to get the point across, whatever the point had been.

  • Kuch says:

    I’ve heard Dana’s logic on this topic before:

    Take a town anywhere in the world. Now take 4 separate street corners.

    On one corner have an American Football game.
    On another corner have a baseball game.
    On the third corner have a soccer game.
    On the last corner have a fight.

    Now see which corner the most people congregate too.

    Maybe he over simplifies it by saying it is human nature that drives us to watch other people fight, but his argument does have some weight to it.

    Pardon me while I go watch an old Pride DVD…

  • dpk says:

    I agree that the potential is there. They have a TV deal in China now, and can you imagine what a Chinese superstar would do for UFC? 1.6 billion people getting behind the hometown hero. Similar situation with India and its 1 billion people, where I believe UFC is on TV now. That being said, UFC needs a Network deal here in the US to continue to expose people to its product, and to pretty much continue doing what they have been doing as far as expanding into other countries around the world.

    If I could play Dana, Lorenzo, Frank, and Joe Silva for a day I would state that with-in 3 years I want to have 36 shows a year. 3 a month. 4-6 on Network TV. 12 PPVs. The rest on Spike/VS/or maybe ESPN. At least one of these shows each month will be overseas. But that is just me thinking of what my goal would be.

  • fraz says:

    MCM: I don’t see MMA as ever being bigger than Soccer world wide, but with that said, the second biggest sport practiced world wide is Judo. So I do think it’s possible to make MMA one of the biggest sports in the world. .

    Not sure where you pulled that Judo ranking from but it’s not even CLOSE to basketball worldwide for that number 2 spot. Judo isn’t even the top sport in Japan where baseball is at the top.

  • fraz says:

    Brendhan Conlan:What White fails to mention is that the UFC doesn’t have all of MMA’s elite talent whereas the NFL does in regards to football, MLB does in regards to baseball, etc.. For the UFC to go to the next level he’ll either need to merge the UFC with the other big organizations in the same way the NFL/AFL originally did to create the modern NFL or start forking out enough cash to put them out of business by signing every major name.

    Neither of your analogies works.

    American football is only played by kids/teens in two countries in the world: Canada and the U.S. The NFL is basically composed of all American players and the sport has not caught on globally.

    MLB doesn’t have all the elite baseball talent. The Japanese league has plenty of elite players. While some have come over to the MLB and excelled, many choose to stay in Japan due to the language barrier or because they are already making the big bucks at home and don’t see any advantage in moving to the U.S.

  • Nick Havok says:

    I hate to say it, but Dana is right about fighting transcending cultures…unlike American football for example. I mean he freaking nailed it. Everyone can relate to fighting. It’s human nature.

    The question that I have is…can Dana lead the sport there? Or will his foul mouth, selfish ways, arrogance, desire for power and unbridled disrespect for the fighters hold him back?

    I guess we will find out in the next 10 years.

  • MCM says:

    fraz:
    Not sure where you pulled that Judo ranking from but it’s not even CLOSE to basketball worldwide for that number 2 spot.Judo isn’t even the top sport in Japan where baseball is at the top.

    For the Olympics, Judo is second only to Track and Field in the number of participating countries. It is also usually the first event to sell out.
    Out of roughly 208 countries in the world (depending on the day), around 195 of them compete in international Judo.

    Admittedly, these stats are in no way a clear indicator that Judo is the #2 sport in the world and I probably misspoke when I wrote that. But, it does indicated that at least one form of competitive combat sports is extremely popular world wide. And the potential for MMA to be the #1 sport in the world may not be as outrageous as one may think. Weather this can happen in ten years or not is really anyone’s guess.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Think he’s on the right path and with the proper support he will get the job done… I think he has big plans but it’s better to think big and still make an impact even if it’s not on the larger scale you forecasted than to think small and not have the guts to expand and try new things because then the product will become stale and dry out quickly… DW is out there trying to give us some new looks and bring the sport to some new audiences… is he making a buck yea of coarse he is. If thats what drives him, what do we care as long as we get quality fights and an interesting card time after time- i think if he gets major cards on Network TV we will see a whole nother renaissance in the sport not just UFC, that exposure will give him the backing and financial abilities to continue to grow and develop new platforms of this sport for us to enjoy and of coarse for him and Zuffa to make $ but it is what it is… Kudos to DW.

  • Nick Havok says:

    Dana White says, “UFC will be the biggest sport in the world by 2020.”

    That makes about as much sensse as a penis-flavored lolli-pop.

    Since when was the UFC a sport?

  • Jstew3785 says:

    Didn’t even catch that Nick. How about MMA will be the biggest sport Dana? That’s pretty arrogant right there.

  • king mah mah says:

    @ Nick Havok- I hope you haven’t tried one of those lolli-pops before! LOL

  • Nick Havok says:

    king mah mah: @ Nick Havok- I hope you haven’t tried one of those lolli-pops before! LOL

    *vomits*

  • MMA will be a top 3 sport and maybe number 1 for a while and then loose it. Soccer loyalty is way to strong and Football will dollar to viewer be more of a money maker than MMA ever will. MMA could easily beat out Football for popularity worldwide. Every one has fight in them…everyone. We are born to survive. I need to know what I can do. I wouldn
    t train Jitsu and Kickboxing if I didn’t. I’ve taken the bus late night for many years. Kids on the streets in packs asking for money. Its good to know I at least have a chance. Baseball has almost fallen out b4 but will always be a top 3 battling it out with MMA.

    Thats how I see it. Fighting sports have probably been around longer than any sport known to man. As kids we grow up play fighting and then move on to baseball, football, soccer ect… fighting is what we need to know…I love this sport.

  • Scott H. says:

    Stating the blatently obvious… Ten years is a long time.

    Lets look at the next 3 years, what could happen for the UFC.

    One or two events a year in Austrailia and New Zealand, Live on PPV in North America. Can Austraila and New Zeland generate 100,000 PPV veiw buy’s for North American Events? Probably.

    4 European events a Year (England, Germany…) with Live PPV in Europe, Tape delayed on a Major Network in North America?

    Can they get Live PPV going in Japan? Possibly.

    Increased Televison coverage in Mexico & South America… but I don’t think they have PPV.

    Asia… again Television deals no problem… but that’s not alot of money, the UFC is driven by PPV.

    In North America, there is room for growth… mainstream media is still not covering MMA the way they should… if coverage continues to grow, ratings and PPV buys will continue to increase. This is the most important one.

    I’d easisly say that the UFC could double their revinue in the next three years.

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