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The following is a conversation with Dana White, the president of the UFC, a mixed martial arts organization that revolutionized the art, the sport, and the business of fighting. And Dana is truly the mastermind behind the UFC. And now a quick few second mention of each sponsor. Check them out in the description. It's the best way to support this podcast. We got element for delicious electrolytes, notion for team collaboration, ag one for some more delicious health drink type of stuff, and inside tracker for tracking your biological data. Choose wisely, my friends. Also, if you want to work with our amazing team or just want to get in touch with me, please go to contact. And now onto the full ad reads. As always, no ads in the middle. I try to make these interesting, but if you skip them, please still check out our sponsors. I enjoy their stuff. Maybe you will too. This episode is brought to you by element, a thing I'm drinking right now. I think that's delicious. A thing that's really good when you do fasting, whether that's for 24 hours, for 72 hours, for anything. I guess you could fast without any of that.


But that's going to be not a fun time when you do low carb diets like I do, or ultra low carb or just carnivore. Also, getting your electrolytes is really important. Also if you do any kind of long distance cardio, so long distance running, for example, for me, getting your electrolytes is really, really important. It's kind of crazy how big of a difference it can make when you get the sodium and the potassium and the magnesium right. An element is just a delicious way to get those right. My favorite flavor is watermelon salt. That's what I'm drinking right now. That's what I've always been drinking on the podcast. Usually you see me with some water. There's some element in that water, and it's the thing that makes me happy. It brings me a little bit of a sip of joy. If you will get a simple pack for free with any purchase, try Slash Lex this episode is also brought to you by notion, a note taking and team collaboration tool. I've been using it a lot to think through ideas. It really helps me to through bullet point list, nested bullet point list to really map out what I think about a thing.


And I just kind of do an idea dump a thought, dump a stream of consciousness dump into it, and then I reorganize it. They also have a really nice AI assistant, really nice integration of an LLM into the whole process. That just helps with everything. It can summarize, it can expand on what you're writing. It can generate the first draft of a thing you're writing. You can also ask it a bunch of stuff about project like collaboration. I know people that use it for that. I think that's probably a really amazing thing to use it for. I currently just do wolf pack of one solo. I need to probably start to use it in collaboration with the team. It's amazing for that. I just haven't taken the leap yet. But as a notetaking thing and actually collaboration on a sort of two person thing, which I haven't used it for, is really amazing. I highly recommend it. Play around with it, see what you think. Especially their AI thing. It's called notion AI. You can try for free when you go to lex. That's all lowercase lex to try the power of notion AI today.


This episode is also brought to you by ag one, a thing I drank 1 hour ago and enjoyed it. I use their container that they ship the sort of ag one delivery with. I fill it with water, put it in the fridge such that it's cold, mix one spoon in. The result is just delicious and refreshing. I like it cold. I'll sometimes put it in the freezer to where it freezes just a tiny bit. So it's like a little bit of a slushy consistency. If I want a kind of slushy experience, which I'm a big fan of, the 711 slurpee slushy, all that kind of stuff is just incredible. And whenever I run into one that has sugar free, which does happen, they usually run out of it. It just makes me so happy just sitting there with a slushy or a slurpee, I forget which one it is. Which one is the 711 one? I don't know. I could look it up, but I'm not going to slurpee slushy. Same thing. I just love it. Makes me happy. So I go to that place of happiness with a delicious thing of ag one. You should consider trying to do the same kind of slushy experience if you like as well.


Or just have it cold or have it warm, it's always delicious. They'll give you one month supply of fish oil when you sign up at Drinkag one Lex this episode is also brought to you by inside tracker, a service I use to track the data that comes from my body. Biological data. It's in the blood. It's DNA data, it's fitness tracker data. All of that shoved into a machine learning algorithm that tells me what I should do with my life in terms of lifestyle changes and diet. Hopefully, this is the future where there's more and more data that could be used from the human body to make suggestions about what you should do with your life. Obviously, for me, wanted to be a psychiatrist for a long time. I'm fascinated with the human mind and to be able to collect data from the human mind, high resolution data, such that you don't need to make sense of the data. You can just shove it into a very large neural network and it gives you recommendations. That's such an interesting possibility. There's been recent breakthroughs on Neuralink and the BCI fronts. It's really, really exciting what you can do with that data, and you could do it in a safe way for humans.


Just love it. So the more data that comes from the body, from the human mind, from the brain, I'm really excited by the possibilities of that. Of course, it has to be done safely in a way that respects the individual rights, all that kind of stuff. Very important. But also the possibilities for human health, for human flourishing is just really exciting to me. Anyway, you can get special savings for a limited time when you go to slash Lex. This is the Lex Friedman podcast. To support it, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now, dear friends, here's Dana. Why do you remember when you saw your first fight?


I think so. I remember being at my grandmother's house, and I think it was an Ali fight. And all my uncles were going crazy during the fight, and there was just this buz and this energy in the house that I liked at a very young age. And I'm pretty sure that was my first fight.


Ali was something special.


Yeah, incredible.


I mean, when you look around, not.


Just here in the office, but at my house, Ali and Tyson are everywhere.


Would you put Ali as the greatest of all time boxing?


Well, I would put Ali as the.


Greatest all time human being.


It's easy as a fight fan to focus on him as a fighter, but when you focus on him as a.


Human and you think about what he.


Meant at that time and place, the things he said, the poems he came up, just the overall brilliance of Muhammad Ali, the guts.


The guts to have the strength mentally.


Physically, and emotionally, to go against the grain at the time that he did, it was a very dangerous time for him to be who he was.


Yet because of how smart he was.


And because of his personality and how, if you sat down with him, you could be the biggest racist on the planet. It's hard to get in the room with Ali and not like Ali.


Yeah, he's all love humor, all of it, 100%, and had the guts in the ring and the guts to take a stand 100% when it was hard.


He might be one of the all.


Time greatest humans, you know what I mean? Just an impactful, powerful human being who happened to be a great boxer.


And sometimes the right moment meets the great human being. That's important.


I agree with you. And he was the right guy in the right place at the right time, and he's also a guy who used his platform for all the right things.


So that might have been your first fight, but when did you fall in love with fighting? The art of it, the science of it?


Yeah, I would say I really fell in love with it.


So I was a senior, it was.


1987, and Hagler Leonard happened, and I watched that fight, and I taped it, and I watched that fight, like, a million times. I was a huge, huge Hagler fan, and I like Sugar Ray Leonard, too, but I was a huge. And, uh, you know, I just remember I watched that fight a million times because I was pissed off and I felt like Hagler got robbed in the fight, you know what I mean? But that was really what made me.


Start to love the sport of boxing.


The battle of it.


I was 17, and then after that.


USA's Tuesday night fights came out on television, was on every Tuesday night, religiously. Never missed Tuesday night fights. I was there, watched all those fights. And a lot of the things you see in the UFC, not necessarily just.


The production, but I would say the.


Feel and the style and all those things are all.


Things that I loved.


About boxing and things that I hated about boxing. Right down to the commentary you loved and hated. Hated the.


Yeah, hated the commentary.


Certain things that I loved about boxing, I incorporated into the UFC. Things that I hated about boxing, I made sure that the UFC stayed far away from. I think I can't stand Larry Merchant. Can't stand Larry Merchant. And I used to watch HBO boxing and mute the commentary so that I.


Didn'T have to listen to them lamply, too. You would spend this money for the.


Pay per view, to watch these people that you idolized, to hear these idiots.


Rip them apart while the fight was happening, they were criticizing 100% apart.


I've gotten used to the UFC, so I'm trying to remember looking back.


It was bad.


It was bad.


It was really bad.


But the sweet science. The art of boxing was beautiful.


Still, I want to do this with you right now. Hey, we bring your cell phone over here and pull up YouTube. I want to do this for you so that you can understand this and understand where I was coming from for the commentary. Yeah. At this point in time, I have all good memories.


You're going to ruin it for me.


Yeah. No, there are nothing but great memories about boxing but the presentation and a lot of things. But how fucking weird is it that I even cared about this shit at that point in my life and that time in my, like, what impact could.


I possibly have on it?


So think about Tyson and how much everybody loved Tyson at the time. And listen to this entrance of the.


Former undisputed heavyweight champion. And here he comes, Mike Tyson, as he heads toward the same ring he made his distraceful exit in June of 96.


Wow, the crowd.


One of the baddest motherfucking walk ins of all time, by the way. Right. What this guy should be doing. And this is one of the Albert brothers. Shut the fuck up. Stay out of the way.


Yeah, maybe build him up or that.


Or don't say anything. Just let the fans. That's why we paid our money.


You don't need to say anything.


Scary, imposing music. Will he be able to intimidate his opponent tonight? Will it even matter? I really thought there'd be more of an explosion by the crowd here, but very mixed. Even with the win tonight, no matter how one sided, he will still have his detractors following the two fights with Holyfield. His stock plummeted. The pundits came down hard, feeling they were duped that his knockouts were over. Second rate fighters. Now the crowd erupts more as he gets into the ring, but it's certainly nothing overwhelming.


What a dick. You're right. I don't remember that. You're right.


Imagine you're right. You paid your money to watch Mike Tyson and you got to listen to these fucking jerk offs talk shit about him the whole way to the right. First of all, one of the coolest walk ins know, first time anybody had heard, you know, he's walking into some scary, imposing music. Will it even matter? It's just all that kind of stuff. I literally used to analyze every ounce of the production that would happen on television and at a time when I didn't even know why I was doing it.


But it's in there somewhere like you were thinking about it, right?


So, yeah, I hated HBO commentary.


I thought at the time HBO boxing.


Was obviously the gold standard. But when you really think about boxing at that time, their production, the only thing that changed over 30 years was, like, hd. I mean, even the commentators were the same for 30 years. And then you had the time when Larry Merchant gets up and literally starts fighting with Floyd Mayweather during the interview and says, if I was 30 years younger, I'd kick your ass right now.


Oh, yeah, I remember that.


I mean, these are the interviews that we have to listen to when we're trying to watch a boxing match.


The level of boxing was good.


Think about a fighter, right?


Fighter has been gone for months, away.


From their families and away from everything. Training, cutting weight, sparring. Then they go in and they have to fight that night. And then if you watch your fight back, you got to listen to this bullshit from these guys. And then you get interviewed, and your interview is this.


And it's not just about the pay per view money. It's about like, these are legends of humanity. We should celebrate the highest form of accomplishment. These aren't like Mike Tyson.


So you know who goes in there and interviews fighters? Joe Rogan. Right, who has trained and done everything and has the utmost respect for the sport and the athletes. Or you got like, Daniel Cormier, who is a former world champion himself and has actually been through it, done it, knows. And those are the type of people that we put in the booth, people that are actually experienced in it, not these people who've never been in a fight in their fucking life. Right?


Yeah, but they're also. Both DC and Rogan are like big kids. They love it. Really love it.


Well, everybody does. I mean, if you look at. It's the difference between our commentary and what I feel their commentary was. We don't hire paid talking heads. We hire people that have actually been.


In it, done it, love it, and.


Are super passionate about the sport. And I would say that none of them that ever covered the sport back then were. I don't know if that was Marv Albert or what Albert, brother, that was, but he sound like he's a fan of the sport or. Anyway, you got me on this, and once I get on this, I lose my mind.


Maybe we wouldn't have a UFC if they didn't fuck it up so bad for the Tyson.


It would be different. You're not wrong. You're not wrong. It would be different. There's no doubt about it. All those experiences growing up, being a boxing fan helped create what the UFC is.


Know, it's interesting because humans have been fighting for millennia, and it seems like with the UFC, the rate of innovation is just insane. In these last three decades, it seems like we've discovered how to do unarmed combat faster and better than at any time in human history.


I agree with you 100%. The first UFC happened in 1993, right? Martial art versus martial art.




And now, over the last 30 years, martial arts has evolved faster than, you know what I mean?


Like you just said, combat sports, fighting.


Whatever you want to call it, martial arts, it has evolved so much in 30 years, more than the last 300 years.


What did you think when you saw UFC one with hoist?


I remember everybody talking that this fight was going to happen and there was going to be no rules and all this other stuff, and we're like, there's no way. That's bullshit. And then we ended up at SOme guy's house that night in BosTon and watching it, and it was happening, and it was fun, and it was exciting and everything else, and then I sort of fell off after that. The first one I watched, but I was too big of a boxing fan. Plus, once grappling started taking over, and by grappling, meaning the wrestling and the jujitsu guys that just laid there, I completely lost interest. It's funny that I'm having this conversation with you right now, because last night, I was out last night with my friends, and we were talking about because one of my budies, who's a host here in town, just did Jiu jitsu for the first time.








And he was like, did he get his ass kicked? Yeah. But when you first go in our first jujitsu lesson, me, Lorenzo, and Frank was with John Lewis.




And I remember thinking, holy shit. I can't believe that I'm 28 years old, and this is the first time I'm experiencing this, that another human being could do this to me on the ground. It is such an eye opening, mind blowing experience when you do it for the first time, and then you become completely addicted to it. And we were training three, four days a week, trying to kill each other and me and the Frittidas, and that's how we fell in love with the sport. I think that first time that you do jiu jitsu, it's like the red pill and the blue pill in the matrix. Do you want to believe that this is the world that you live in, or do you want to see what the real world looks like?


Jiu Jitsu is a real red pill.


It really is.


You realize, holy shit. All that shit talking I've been doing about me being a badass. You realize you're not. You get dominated by another human being.


You realize, no, and I mean dominate. I mean completely treat you like you're a little kid. And then we had the opportunity to roll with a lot of different guys at the time because of the whatever, and we don't have a good relationship at all. But I'll tell you this. Frank Shamrock came in one day, and.


Frank Shamrock had me in side control.


The pressure that this guy put on my chest made me tab. Felt like there was a car on my chest, and with zero effort from him, it was absolutely effortless. And when you train with somebody that's at such a level when you're not, it is the most humbling, mind blowing experience you can have, especially as a man. But as a human being, do you.


Remember, just for fun, do you remember what your go to submission was?


Yeah. So when we first started out and started doing it, I had a pretty good guillotine in the beginning, so I'd catch a lot of people in guillotines.


So you're okay being on bottom?


Yeah, bottom, yeah, I was okay with being on bottom. I was comfortable there. But you know what I never liked? I never liked gee. We started fucking around with a gee in the beginning. That's how we started. And then once I took the gee off, I felt like I had no submissions because I couldn't grab onto anything. So after that, I went all, no gee. And I never wanted to wear a gee.


And it's fascinating because no gee has become big now, and there's a lot of interesting people. I got trained with Gordon Ryan, and the level there is just fascinating. It's become like this science, and it looks like fighting now. It looks more like fighting as opposed to with the gee. Sometimes it doesn't quite look like fighting.




And I feel like it's transferable to actual mma fighting. No gee stuff.


Or street.




Yeah, right. I mean, if you start off in your first year, you're in a gee, man. You better hope guys got, like, winter jackets on or something if something happens in the street, because in my opinion, I know all the jujitsu fucking people are going to go crazy over this, but in my opinion, no gee is way better than gee.


That said, I also do judo. So in the street scenario, if you're comfortable on the feet and you can clinch and you can throw, because most of us wear clothing, especially in Boston. Exactly. So if you're comfortable on the feet, you could still do well there. The problem with Jiu jitsu is most people are not comfortable on the feet. The sports jiu jitsu, most people kind of want to get to the ground as quickly as possible. So what did you think of hoist at that time? Because it blew a lot of people's minds that there's more to this puzzle, 100%.


And the fact that you had these guys, like Ken Shamrock, that were jacked, right? And you had all these wrestlers, or the big, massive guys that they had in the different weight classes, and this skinny little dude, like Hoist was out there beating everybody. I mean, if you look at the way that the Gracie's played, that you couldn't have had a better advertisement for.


Gracie Jiu Jitsu at the time, but.


Also for MMA, because there's just a lot of surprising elements. A lot of people's prediction was wrong. They didn't think the Skinny guy would win, and they're like, oh, shit, there's more to this.


What's the real beautiful thing about jiu jitsu? It's like when you talk about, if you wanted to get your daughter into a martial art, should I put my daughter into karate or should I put her into this? You put your daughter into jiu jitsu 100%, because it's not about size or strength, it's about technique.


And you give your daughter a bunch.


Of jujitsu and a little bit of muitai.


Yeah, she becomes dangerous.


It's like the perfect combo.




Because you can put your son into anything your son can get into. Some boys are going to learn how to fight, and they're going to do whatever, but girls are different. And the other thing, I mean, this is the biggest selling point for jiu jitsu for women. I mean, a woman, no matter how big, how small, can put a guy.


To sleep in three and a half seconds.


What's the origin story of the UFC as it is today, as you have created it, and you and Lorenzo and Fratito brothers built it?


It started with, you know, and seeing him. Frank and I were out one night at the hard rock, and John Lewis was there, and he's like, oh, that's that ultimate fighting guy. And I was like, I know him. And Frank's like, I've always wanted to learn ground fighting. And I said, yeah, I'm interested in it, too. So we went over, we talked to John Lewis, and we made an appointment to wrestle with him on Monday.




And we told Lorenzo, and Lorenzo came with us, and that was the beginning of the end. I mean, we started doing jujitsu and started to meet a lot of the fighters. And we were know at the time there was a stigma attached to the sport that these guys know, despicable, disgusting human beings, which was the furthest thing from the truth. These kids had all gone to college, had college degrees, most of them, because they wrestled in college. And we started to meet something. We loved the different stories. You had Chuck Liddell, who had this mohawk, looks like an ax murderer, but graduated from Cal Poly with honors in accounting. Then you had Matt Hughes, who was this farm boy, literally lived on a farm. So there were all these cool stories with all these good people that weren't what people thought they were. And Lorenzo and I always felt like, there's something here. If this thing was done the right way, this could be big. And what was crazy was I was in a contract negotiation with Bob Meyerwitz, the old owner of the UFC, over Tito's contract, and Chuck Liddell. They didn't even want Chuck Liddell in the UFC.


I was trying to get Chuck in the UFC, and they didn't even want him.




And we got into this contract dispute over Tito's contract, and Bob Meyer said, you know what? There is no more money. Okay? I don't even know if I'll even be able to put on one more event. And he, like, flipped out. We hung up the phone. I literally picked up the phone and called Lorenzo. And I said, hey, I just got off the phone with Bob Mywitz Stone of the UFC. I think they're in trouble, and I think we could buy it, and I think we should. You should reach out to Lorenzo. Lorenzo called Myowitz, and I don't know how. I don't remember the timeline, but within the next two months, we ended up owning the UFC for $2 million.


And you've said that you fought a lot of battles during that time.


I mean, the early days of building this company and building the sport, it was the wild, wild west, man. It was crazy back then. Yeah, I was literally at war every day with all different types of people. Plus, traditionally, there's bad people that are involved in fighting, man.


There's lots of bad people. And we had to sift our way.


Through that for the first seven, eight years.


So, in general, there's, like, corruption. The people kind of steal money. They're thinking just about themselves, not the bigger business.


Let me tell you about mean. I want to say it was the Netherlands. I don't remember exactly where it could have been. Amsterdam. I mean, MMA promoters were, like, car bombing each other, and then the other guy shot up the other guy's house with machine guns, and that's the kind of shit that was going on. I'll tell you the story. So, affliction. Do you remember affliction?




So there was a.


Want to.


I want to say his name was Tom Tod Beard or something like that. This guy used to text me every day when they started their MMA thing, telling me he was going to kill me.


Like, legitimately.


Legitimately going to kill me. You punk motherfucker. I'm going to fucking kill you. You don't understand who I am and what I've done and this and that. I think this guy would get drunk or do drugs every night or whatever his deal was. This guy would call me, text me, and threaten my life every day. I used to go, fuck you. You said, fuck you, especially back then. Yeah, but this is the type of shit that went on in the early days. This guy who was one of the owners of affliction was like one of the. Not a good human, let's put it that way.


What about the business side of it? It's tough to make money in this business.


Yeah, we weren't making money. So trying to build this thing.




Corrupt. The guys that work for in demand, pay per view at the time.




Not good dudes, and that thing was a fucking total monopoly. God, I wish I could remember his name right now. He used to run in demand, and he was a fucking bad guy. Then he comes over and starts running DirecTV, who we always had a great.


Relationship with, and he's the reason we.


Left DirecTV and said, fuck it, we'll just go streaming then. Yeah, I don't remember his name. I'd have to ask Lorenzo.


So, in general, just in this whole space, there's a lot of. Yeah, it's just shady people.


Everybody you deal with is dealing with.


A lot of different forces, and your hands are in a lot of different businesses, from the venue business, to the merchandise business, to the video game business, the pay per view business. The list goes on and on of all the different types of the production business of all these.


Know, when I first started this, we.


Had a production team that was the.


Production team that was in it before we bought it.


So there was this incident with Phil Baroni, where Phil Baroni, we did an interview with him, and Baroni flips out in the interview when they're interviewing him and goes crazy. And I thought it was awesome.


So I'm like, we're going to leave this in.


We're going to leave this interview in and the production guys were arguing with me. They're like, we can't leave this in. This is totally unprofessional. And I said, I don't give a shit.


This is what we're doing.


We're going to do this and clip it like this and do it like that.


We're sitting in the venue that night, and I lean over to Lorenzo because.


The fight's coming up. I go, wait, do you see this.


Fucking interview with Baroni? They didn't fucking do it.


They didn't do it. These guys were guys that were freelance, guys that worked for Showtime at the time or something like that.


I literally went.


Got up from my fucking seat, went back there, kicked the fucking door of the truck open, and I said, you motherfuckers, you ever do that again, and I'll fire every fucking one of you. Let's just put it this way. I ended up firing every one of them anyway and going with a whole new crew. But these were the type of things that early on, there's so much stuff. I mean, I could sit here for fucking three days and walk you through all the stuff that used to go on back in those days, but it was the wild, wild west, man.


But how'd you know how to deal with all this mess? First of all, to fire people. To fire people that aren't doing a good job. All that. How to be a leader. How to be.


Well, that's the thing, too. I mean, business leader, getting. In the early days, there was two employees, me and another girl, that worked for me, for my company before I started doing this. And then we slowly started to bring people on, and you start to build a team. Then before you know it, we had ten people. I mean, we used to do our Christmas parties back then, too. There'd be eight to ten people at our Christmas party.


But a lot of it is, you.


Learn as you go. You know, what me and the Fertitas knew about production when we bought this UFC? We had, like, I want to say, we had two or three weeks to pull off an event. This is what we knew about production. Really jack shit. So we had to dive in, and we had to learn it. We had to figure it out, and we knew what we wanted. We knew what we liked. We knew what we were looking for. It's just about building a good team, and I think that's one of the things.


If you want to talk about what.


I've accomplished in the last 25 years of my life, I've been really good at building teams, already have a vision.


Of what you want the final thing to look like and then build a team that can bring that to life 100%.


Well, you have to have the vision. Without the vision, there's nothing. So that's sort of what I do. I am the vision part of this thing. We're going to open a PI in Mexico. We're going to do this, we're going to do that. And then you build the team to come in and help execute a lot.


Of people that do. Fighting, promotions fail. You succeeded against long odds. What's the secret to your success, if you would just looking back over the years?


Well, the secret to success, I would say, first of all, is passion and consistency. You have to love what you do. You have to get up every day. I get here every day at 930 in the morning.


When we sold in 2016, a lot.


Of people in the company made a lot of money and they all took.


Off and they retired.


Right? Other than the fertitas, I made the most money.


I'm still here.


I get here at 930 every morning. Last night, I left here at 830. And I don't know how late I'm going to be here tonight, but I love what I do. We get up every day and grind. I work just as hard now as.


I did back then.


The difference between back then and now is I don't have to do a bunch of the shit that I don't really like to do. Like budget meetings. I don't like budget meetings. I sat through enough fucking budget meetings. Horrible budget meetings.


Horrible. We're losing millions of dollars a year.


And I'm in these budget meetings. So I get to pick and choose what I do these days. Back in the early days, you don't get to pick and choose. You have to be involved in everything.


So cost, you're just looking at cost.


You literally go through line by line, every fucking number in the company. And where did the money go, and how can we save costs? How can we do this better? How can we?


They are brutal and they're multiple times.


A week and probably helps you deeply appreciate how much the shit costs, though.




Well, you have to know that, yeah. In the early days when you start your business, you have these people who, when I hear them say, you know what.


I want to work for myself.


I want to create my own schedule, and I want to do all that. If that's your thought process going into.


It, you're never going to be successful. You have to pay attention to every.


Single detail of the business early on. You're involved in everything. There's no days off. There's no birthdays, there's no fucking Christmas. There's none of that shit. I literally moved the birth of my second son for a chocolate elle fight. We had a chocolate l fight coming up, and they're like, yeah, your son's going to be born on this date. And I'm like, yeah, that's not going to work. We're going to have to take him earlier.


So they literally gave my wife a.


C section and took my son early.


You were all in.


All in, yeah.


And the fascinating thing, like you said, you've said that you could care less about money. You're doing this for the love of it.


Yeah, I was doing this when I was broke, and I'm doing this now.


When I'm not broke. I'm doing this because I love it. And I feel like there's so much more to do.


And this is truly my passion in life.


It's like the sphere. We're doing the sphere. Why? Why would I do this? Fear it's going to cost me a bunch of money. It's really challenging. Most people think it can't be pulled off, and you're looking at weird angles, different things going on inside other than the fight and all this other stuff.


But, yeah, I'm doing it because it's.


Awesome and it's challenging and it's hard. And I think that if anybody can.


Do it right, it's us.


So why not take that challenge?


It's actually why I'm here. I'm going to this fear for the first time because I'm hanging out with Darren Aronowski, who put together the thing that's in there now. And I can't believe you're thinking of. I don't know how you're going to solve that puzzle.


There's many puzzles to solve for this one. Many puzzles.


So can you speak to that? Like, what are interesting challenges that you're encountering? Yeah.


So there's a lot. So you have the octagon. Right. And then behind it is the world's biggest screen ever. Right. So what is the theme? How do you program it? First of all, it's super expensive to shoot the format for the sphere angles we were talking about today. I just had a big meeting today about the sphere this afternoon and making sure that all my departments, all the.


Details that I want all start to.


Come together here in the next two weeks. I want the creative, the commercial. I have some goals. I will tell people as we get closer, what I'm looking to achieve with this, other than putting on one of the greatest, most unique sporting events of all time, and probably the greatest combat sporting event of all time. But, yeah, there's a laundry list of challenges for this thing, and not to mention the fact that it's on Mexican Independence Day and we're going to weave in the whole history of combat in Mexico.


Yeah, but the production. I mean, this is hilarious, because you were just talking about knowing nothing about production. Now he's tackling the sphere, the hardest production effort ever. And that will be live.


It'll be live. It'll be live on pay per view, it'll be live in the arena, and it will also be in movie.


Will be shown. We'll be shown at the sphere later, too. Will you try to.


ESPN's doing a doc on it.




The making of the fear. Yeah.


Are you feeling good about it?


Oh, yeah. I feel incredible about it. I can't wait. It's going to be fun.


I can't wait to see how you solve the puzzle.


Thank you.


Another guy that I feel like could care less about the money is Joe Rogan. How important is he to the UFC, to the rise of the UFC? And what, in general, do you love about Joe?


It's a fact.


He doesn't care about money. And he did the first 13 shows for free for us. You know what I mean? That was at a time when we were hurting. And he's like, wait a minute. You want me to do the commentary? You're saying that I get to sit in the best seat in the house and watch these fights for I'm in. And then, obviously, when we turn things around, we made it up to Joe. But Joe is one of the things that I loved early on about. So I'll tell you the story. So we buy the UFC. They're based in New York. We're moving the corporate offices to Vegas. So I have to fly out to New York, go into the offices and start going through everything and figuring out what needs to come back to Vegas and what we can just throw away. So they literally had a vhs machine.


And a tv, and there were a.


Million tapes in this place, man. So I didn't know what tapes were. These definitely we have to keep, or these, we don't need. So I had to sit there and go through every single tape, and I popped in a tape, and there was.


An interview on the Ivory Keenan Wayan show. Right?


The oldest Wayans brother. And he had a talk show at the time, and he had Joe Rogan the guy from Fear Factor on the show, and he was promoting fear factor, but all he would talk about was UFC.


He was talking about how people think.


That these guys in the martial arts movies are tough and could do. And he was talking about what UFC fighters would do to these martial arts guys if they ever got their hands on them. And I was like, this is exactly what I need, a guy who isn't afraid to speak his mind and knows the sport inside and out, but more importantly, is super passionate about it and loves it. So when you see Joe Rogan on camera, and I was talking about the paid talking heads that they had in HBO boxing that were terrible, Joe Rogan does not come off as a paid talking head. He comes off as a guy who loves this. Early on, no media would cover us, so I had to buy my way onto radio. So we'd do these radio tours, right? And they would drop us in. You'd have to get up at 330.


In the morning in Vegas on the.


West coast, because they're at 630 in the morning in New York and Boston and Florida and all these other places. So they drop you into these markets to do radio, right. And the fighters were horrible at it. Fighters getting up at 330 in the.


Morning, especially leading up to a fight, never good.


They sound like they're tired. They act like they're tired, and they definitely act like they don't want to be on there. And it's bad radio. What you can't have is bad radio. So the only two people that could pull off these radio tours were me and Joe Rogan. So me and Joe Rogan would alternate doing these radio tours all over the.


Country, just talking about fighting, talking about what this whole thing is like, getting people excited, two guys that are really.


Into it and passionate about it and love it. And it's one of the things about Rogan, too. When early on, nobody understood the ground game, Joe Rogan would walk you through what was happening, literally before it would happen. He would tell you the setup, what was going to come next and everything, and just absolutely articulate it perfectly, brilliantly. And people at home started to understand. And the impact that Joe Rogan has.


Had and continues to have on this sport is immeasurable.


He's the biggest podcaster in the world, and he is on the UFC pay per views 14 times a year, and he's always talking about the sport. It's immeasurable what this guy has done for this company and the sport.


Yeah. Still to this day, like, I'll have dinner with him offline, he'll just talk. Fighting. Just loves it. Loves every aspect of it.


Joe Rogan is one of those guys.


I saw that early on when, why.


Would you go after the fear factor, know, to be such a key component to not only the company, but to the sport? I saw it in the fucking interview on ivory.


Keenan Wayans.


I value loyalty a lot, and I remember there was a moment not too long ago, maybe a year ago, when I was sitting with Joe and he had a phone call with you. Joe was getting canceled for something, and they didn't want him commentating the fights. And you, on the phone, offered your resignation over this. I got teary eyed over that. That's such a. You're a good man.


Thank you.


That was powerful.


Anybody who is with me has been.


With me, knows when you're with me, you're with me. It's a two way street. It's not a one way street. I'm not one of these guys that is going to roll over and it's like going through COVID. I wasn't laying any of these people. Some of these people have been with.


Me for 20 years.


We're going to lay them off. This motherfucker will burn. Burn before I would do that to my people. None of that type of stuff is ever going to happen while I'm here. I can't say what's going to happen.


When I leave, but when I'm here, the people who are with me and.


Have been with me, they know exactly what's up, and Joe knows what's up. And again, it's a two way street. Joe Rogan has been very loyal to me, and I am very loyal to Joe Rogan.


Lorenzo, another guy you've close friendship with, you seem to have been extremely effective together as business partners. What's the magic behind that? Yeah, how can you explain that?


I love them. Lorenzo and I work really well together because we have two different personalities.




I'm the guy that always. I'm going here. Lorenzo is always here. Right. You could walk in a room and say, lorenzo, you just lost $10 million. Lorenzo, you just won $10 million. It never changes. And I'm a guy that goes like this, right? So we almost balance each other out. There's a lot of things that he's really fucking good at, and there's a lot of things that I'm really fucking good at, and they're both on the opposite sides of the spectrum.


So that level headed thing was useful when the UFC was losing money and it was unknown whether it's going to survive those low points, 100%.


What's incredible, when you think of the story of the UFC at the time, the casino business was cranking, right? And station casinos was killing it. And stations, their money from stations is what was funding the UFC. Then in the 89 crash, the UFC was killing it in eight and nine, and the casino businesses were hurting. So timing on everything, the way that it all worked out, couldn't have worked out better for them, and obviously for all of us. When you think about the UFC and how big it is and how far it reaches and how many people it touches, the Fertitas brothers made a $2.


Million investment, then put in, like, another.


44 million, and look at how many lives that investment has changed over the last 25 years.


It's fascinating, and it's also crazy. Just forget the business of it, just the effect it has on the history of humanity in terms of this, what we do, or descendants of apes that fight. And this is like, the organizations that catalyze the innovation in how we fight. It's crazy. It created a whole new sport that.


People all over the world participate in. Now, literally, there isn't a place on earth that we can't get a fighter from.


Now, you said in the UFC 299 post fight press conference that sometimes fighters might complain that they get matched up on even ods, but that's actually when legends are made. I think you gave Dustin Poirier as an example. Can you elaborate on that a little bit? Like, what makes a legend, what makes greatness in a fight?


So, behind the scenes, fighters are a very paranoid bunch of people. They're very paranoid.


And there's been this theme with fighters.


Where they're trying to get me beat. Right. We don't determine who wins and loses. If we did, we'd be the WWE. Okay?


You do. I'm the bells and whistles guy.


I make sure that as many people that we can possibly let know that you're fighting on Saturday, know that you're fighting on Saturday. Who you are, who you're going against, and why people should give a shit. That's what I do.




Then the night you show up, I put on the best live event that I possibly can. And I put on the best television show that I possibly can. Once that door shuts, it's all up to you. You determine whether you lose or not. And if you get into a position where you become so paranoid that you think that the powers that be here.


Are against you, and you try to.


Steer yourself away from certain fights, that's one of the big things that happens in these other organizations. In these other organizations, the inmates run the asylum, right? So if they don't want to fight bad enough, these other companies don't push and they don't do this.


And we put on the best possible.


Matchups that we can make.


And in this business, you might be.


An older fighter, but if you're still ranked in the top ten, there's young guys coming for you. Killers. Young killers are coming out, and they want your position, right? So you, being the veteran that you are, have to prepare yourself to go in. And everybody was saying when we made.


That fight with St. Denis, that Poirier was in big trouble. That's awesome.


That helps build the entire thing, that Poirier. And then Poirier goes out and does what he did that night. That's what makes fucking legends.


It's interesting because sometimes being the underdog is a really good thing for the long term story of who you are.


As a fighter, especially when you're a.


Big name and a name that people recognize and a name that people know, and they're like, oh, man, I remember Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland. 100 out of 100 people knew for.


A fact that Israel is going to win that fight.


And here comes Strickland, and we could go on for days with this. You know what I mean? That is what creates legendary moments, legendary fights, and it's what builds stars and legends.


I mean, arguably, Conor McGregor with Jose Aldo.


Yep. Conor McGregor with a bunch of people. In the beginning, people said he couldn't wrestle. People said he wouldn't be able to defend a takedown, blah, blah, blah. Nate Diaz against Conor McGregor, you know what I mean?


And Conor McGregor against Khabib, underdog, probably. But if you won, there's an opportunity to win. If you won, that's the legend for me. He's now in the conversation for the greatest of all time without argument.


And if you look at the way that Habib ran through so many people, Conor hung in. Yeah, it could have been made a fight of it.


It could have been. What do you think about that matchup? It's one of the great matchups that you've made. Conor McCarraga versus Khabib.




I mean, at the time, I was incredibly criticized for putting together the spot that had the scene with the bus in. Yeah, the fucking media is. But they were saying that I was pandering to the violence that happened and trying to.


I'm telling you a story, telling you a story. Of how we got here and how big this fight is and how bad the blood is between these guys. And I think that's what we do.


The best job at is telling the fucking stories of why.


We go into Monday. It's fight week.


We got a whole list of things that we do fight week, right? And then you get right down to the press conference on Thursday, the weighins on Friday, and then the fights on Saturday.


Now, my people fly back home, they go to bed on Sunday night, and it's Groundhog day.


We wake up again on Monday, and it starts all over again every weekend. Every Saturday for a year.


So there's lots of stories that need to be told. There's lots of.


When you think about what I compete.


With, whatever takes your attention on a.


Saturday night is my competitor.


You're always trying to build a foundation for great stories, and if the fighters step up, they step up, and they can together create greatness.


That's it. That's exactly right. So when we are aligned, like when you get to the UFC, I mean, you just saw it with MVP. You're going to see it with Kayla Harrison and so many others that have come from other organizations. And they get here, they notice immediately the difference between fighting here and fighting wherever they were before. It's not even comparable to the impact it has on you when you leave whatever organization you're with and you come to the UFC. And I think that it gives them.


A sense of holy.


I mean, MVP, when he mean, there were probably more people at the press conference than any fight he'd ever fought in, in Bellator. You know what I mean? And you feel that energy and you feel the difference of the impact of being here. And I think it takes a lot of these guys to another level.


Yeah. Just the aura of it. Like, this is where you're supposed to step up. Yeah. It's the way people feel about TED talks when they give her lectures. This is your moment. You get 15 minutes, and you better say some interesting shit.




And Kayla Harrison, by the way, is a badass. I can't wait to see what happens.


She was walking around like this sleeveless shirt the night of the fights, and holy shit, she is jacked, man. It's crazy.


Two time Olympic gold medalist, right? You don't fuck with those people. You win a medal, you're made of something special.


So true. Especially in judo.


Yeah. Especially in american judo, where you don't have many training partners that are great.


That's what I'm saying.


Fucking work for it. Ridiculous question. But who is in the conversation for the greatest of all time?


John Jones.


So you've talked about John Jones, but what are the metrics involved here?


He's never been beat. He destroyed everybody at light heavyweight, which at the time was the toughest weight class in the company, in the sport. And then he moved up to heavyweight, won easily at heavyweight.


When you look at a guy and you look at.


What he was doing outside the octagon at the same time, which shouldn't be part of it, shouldn't be part of.


The equation, but when you do, wow, John Jones.


There's no debate. Nobody can debate who's the greatest of all time. It's absolutely, positively Jon Jones. He's never lost. He's never been beaten the octagon ever.


So that's one of the metrics, like pure sheer dominance. But there's others, right? You could. Losing sometimes is a catalyst for greatness.


I don't disagree. But when you've never lost, right, you've never lost. We've never found somebody. The other thing is that you have to put factor into is longevity. How long he's. Because sometimes with a lot of these guys, the sport passes them by. You get younger guys that are faster, this, that, and the sport evolves.


Nobody's been able to beat John Jones. Oh, and the other thing that you.


Measure, know, when you said dominance, it's true. If you're this guy that has unbelievable power and you're just going in, you're just fucking knocking everybody out and nobody's ever pulled you into the deep water before. That was when my opinion of John Jones started to change. Gustafsson took him into the deep water. Gustafson hit him with some shit he'd.


Never been hit with.


Gustafson tested him and put John Jones in a place where I bet if you sat down and interviewed John Jones going into the deep rounds of that, Jon Jones thought he was going to.


Die, you know what I'm saying?


And he's willing to go there and he kept going.


He was willing to do whatever it took to win that fight.


And it breaks my heart because he beat DC and DC is one of the greatest of all time.


That's the thing too. And I believe that DC doesn't get the credit he deserves because of the Jon Jones thing. When you look at DC and what.


He'S accomplished, right, and Jon Jones beat.


Him twice, it's undeniable. You can hate all you want. John Jones is the greatest of all time.


Do you think Habib was tested enough?


I think that Habib had the potential to be in the running for that. He just didn't stick around a lot. First of all, he had injuries. Know he should have been where he got a lot sooner had he not had the injuries that he had and the setbacks in his career. But there's no doubt Habib is one of the all time greats.


What's the good, the bad, and the ugly of your relationship with Conor?


There's literally no ugly.


Conor McGregor has been an incredible partner to work with. Everybody thinks that Connor, if Conor showed up to things on time, there wouldn't be one fucking bad thing I could say about Connor, you know what I mean?


Only being late to.


If you fucking said, you put a.


Gun to my fucking head, right? And said, don't lie, motherfucker. Tell me all the bad things about Conor McGregor. I'd say the guy doesn't show up on time. That's it.


That's it.


If Conor McGregor showed up to shit on time, and sometimes he does. Sometimes he does. He's been a great partner. If you look at what a huge.


Superstar he became, the fights that he.


Was involved in, let me tell you what Conor McGregor never did. We never walked in a room and said, connor, this guy just fell out. We want you to fight this guy. And he was like, no way. I'm not taking this fucking risk. I'm at this point in my career where my money, my this, my that. He was like, fuck it, let's do it. He'd always say, let's do it. The other thing that Conor McGregor never did, no matter how big he was or whatever it was, and we were heading into a fight. Oh, Connor, this guy just fell out. Aldo fell out. We were looking for another. Yeah, I'll do it, but I'm going to need another fucking 200,000. I'm going to need another million dollars. Conor McGregor never did that kind of chicken shit, bullshit kind of stuff. He never did any of that. Connor was as solid a guy as you could possibly work with.


Just fuck it.


I'll do it.


I'll do it. Literally would. There's actually a scene because we were filming something. I don't know if it was embedded or what we were filming at the time. Me and Lorenzo walk into his house that he rented here in Vegas, and I'm pretty sure it was when Aldo fell out. And we're telling him this, that, and we're looking at some options. He says, I'm going to the gym.


When I'm done working out, let me.


Know, he just woke up out of bed, he's in his fucking underwear, and he gets hit with this, and he's like, all right, I'm going to the gym. Let me know when I get out, who I'm fighting. Doesn't care, doesn't want to know, doesn't want any more money.


Nothing fucking shows up.


And he, you know, Connor has been incredibly successful.


He's made a lot of, you know.


He'S had his ups and downs outside and inside the octagon. But as for a guy who know, on the dole and was a plumber, he's actually a really smart businessman. And he's been one of the best partners that I've ever had in the.


History of the sport and an important part of the history of the UFC.




He opened it up to all kinds of new.


He literally, you know, set Europe, Australia, Canada, and many other parts of the world on fire, man. He was our first legit megastar, and.


I personally think he doesn't get enough credit for just how good he was as a fighter. And people love to talk shit about Conor. I suppose that's part of his magic.


But it comes with success. When you're successful, there's always people out there that are going to talk shit. You always have a bunch of know nothing, do nothing fucking losers that love to talk shit.


You think if you were to do it all over again, Habib is the right matchup.


Yeah, listen, the thing that you can't do is avoid matchups.


You know what I mean?


This is what we're talking about when you talk about being a legend. Conor McGregor needed Habib. Habib needed Conor McGregor. You can hate each other as much as you want, but you have to fight these other legendary bad motherfuckers to yourself. Become a legend. I mean, it's like John Jones needed Cyril gone, right? And Cyril gone needed John Jones. Because if Cyril could have beat John, the first guy, if anybody can ever figure it out and beat Jon Jones, it's a big deal.


And it's almost like your obligation as a fighter, right?


And when you think about Jon Jones became who he is today, and the reason I'm sitting here telling you how great he is, because all these other.


Guys gave him the opportunity to beat them, right?


Or they beat John, it's all about giving these other guys the opportunity. St. Denis, right? Poirier gave him the opportunity to come.


In and beat him. That's how this all works.


It's the two of them together, the two fighters together.


You have to have them line up.


I could line up a bunch of.


No name bums that John Jones could run through. That's what they do in all the other organizations, right. We would have nothing to fucking talk about right now.


That's why luckily, a perfect record in UFC is not as important as who you fought, how you.


But when you have a perfect record in the UFC.


Holy shit. Right?




That's what you would. When you can have a perfect record in the UFC, you are absolutely one of the most special athletes on planet Earth.


You and Trump are friends. I just talked to Ivanka last night about her experience in the Miami event. She loves it. She's training, too. You're talking about getting girls to train.


She's training and the kids are training.


Yeah. Her father's the biggest fucking fight fan on the planet. Calls me all the time to talk about the fights.


And Don Jr. Said that I'm like the only guy on Earth that he bros out. We. It's. It's funny when you talk about how.


Powerful fighting is, right?


This last Miami event, the president of Ecuador and the president of Spain both posted about the fights, right? Habib beat Conor Putin, was on FaceTime before he even made it to the locker room. Trump, sitting president, ex president, watching all the fights, calling, wants to talk about the fights. Valentina Shevchenko, every time she goes home, she meets with the president of the country. The list goes on and on and on. The most powerful. Elon Musk, Zuckerberg. I mean, the list goes on and on and on. The most powerful people in the world are all obsessed with fighting.


When did you first discover that Trump loves fighting?


So I first discovered that Trump was a big fight fan. Obviously, you saw him part of all the big. Talking about how big boxing fans we were. He was a part of all the big fights back then. But when we first bought the UFC, this thing was so bad, venues didn't.


Even want us, and we ended up.


Doing our first event in Atlantic City at the Trump Taj Mahal. Now, think about this. At that time, Trump brand here, UFC brand. I mean, I can't go low enough. And he had us at his venue two times back to back, showed up for the first fight of the night.


And stayed till the last fight of the night. Then after that, any good thing that.


Would ever happen to me in my career, Trump would reach out, whether it was. We were on the front page of the New York Times at one time, and he said, congratulations, dana. I always knew you guys were going to do it, little things like that. But that are big things and mean a lot, especially coming from a guy like him.


So he saw something in you. Like, this is going to be 100%.


He definitely saw it. And then comes 1516, whenever it was, I don't remember, but he called me.


And he said, listen, if you don't.


Want to do this, I completely understand, but I would be honored if you would speak at the national republican convention for me. And I'm not a very political guy, you know what I mean? And everybody told me not to do it. Do not do this. But I was like, why would I not do this?


This guy's been great to know, and.


I did it, and our relationship is just like, you know what I mean? I consider Donald Trump to be one of my very good friends.


Any favorite stories?


I mean, there's so many. Once. Once he won the election, I'd be at work, and I'd be down the hall, was in the matchmaking room, whatever. And my secretary tell the president's on the phone, fucking come running down the hallway and grab the phone. And he'd want to talk about the fight that was coming up or the fight that happened, or I'd be in my car and I'd answer the phone. It's like, hi, this is the White House. We have the president of the United States on the know. That's a trip when that first starts happening.


And then just.


To sum him up, this is the kind of guy that.


You want to talk about, a fighter.


It's the most resilient human being I've ever met. If you see the shit that this.


Guy'S going through publicly every day, and.


I'll call him on the phone as.


A friend and be like, hey, you good?


How you doing? Unfazed. Unfazed, like nothing's going on. And they'll start talking to me about this and that and all this other shit.


One time, there's only been one time.


I've never talked about this publicly. But one time I called him, and he was not good. He was a mess, and I've never heard him like that. And I've never seen him like that. When Ivana died, the only time I've ever seen him fucked up. Obviously, as soon as I heard it, I reached out, and I have never. Look at all the stuff that's gone on with Trump, all the bad stuff that they say. They're trying to attack him. They're trying to ruin him.


Unfazed. I called him that day, and he was.


This is the first time I've ever seen that guy busted up and not.


Good, but that says something that that's the only time 100% that guy is walking through.


He does not get rattled. He will walk through fire. He's an absolute savage.


You think he wins the presidential election?


I don't know, man. It's going to depend on how this whole politics is the most dirtiest, scummiest thing on planet earth, man. And who knows how this is all going to play out? It's all dirty, it's all ugly.


And obviously I'm rooting for him and.


I'm behind him, and I hope he.


Does, but we'll see what's dirtier, the fighting game in the early days or politics?


There's nothing dirtier than politics. Nothing. There's literally nothing dirtier.


All right.


It is the dirtiest thing on planet Earth.


Just want to get that on record. Another guy who doesn't seem to be fazed by the fire, I've gotten to know him, is Elon. I have to ask you, it's a bit of fun. You were a part of thinking about putting together Zuck versus Elon. I trained with both. I did a phone call with Elon and you when we were training on the mat. You really think that could have been a good fight?


It would have been the biggest fight ever done.


The spectacle of it. Two of the most powerful, wealthiest men.


In the world, right? Lots of guys talk shit and go back and forth and sue each other and do all this. These two guys were literally talking about facing each other in the Octagon and fighting. There's nothing. And they're in a business that's looked at as geeky. You know what I mean? They're tech nerds. They're this, they're that. These are two dudes that were willing to throw down and fight. And you know as well as I do, there's a lot of public speculation about this. I was taken serious, real time and working on this thing. I mean, I had projections, I had numbers. I was looking at venues. I was on the phone with the fucking Coliseum in Italy. You name it, I was in it. These guys were serious. And this was something that was really going to happen. And I'll tell you right now, in.


The short amount of time that it.


Was going down, it was fun. I was having a blast with it.


What do you think about Tyson? Tyson fighting Jake Paul.


I love Mike Tyson, and I'm not a fan of anybody fighting at our age, but he's a grown man, obviously, and he's going to do what he's going to do, but at least I know.


I talked to his wife a couple.


Of days ago and he's taking this serious and he's training for. So we'll see how it plays out.


Why do you think he fights like, what is that about? Is there a broader lesson there about fighters, about great fighters?


I think that Mike Tyson is actually one of those unique guys who has crossed over any of these other boxers from his era. They have no way of making money other than fighting. Mike Tyson's made a lot of money outside of fighting. I mean, Tyson still has that aura.


You could be at a restaurant and.


He walks in and you're like, holy fuck, Mike Tyson's here. You know, he still has that type of aura and energy in a room and he makes lots of money outside of the just, I think that he ends up getting these offers that he can't refuse.


Oh, you think it's financial? So how much? I mean, that's a good question to ask. You work with a lot of fighters for how many of them is it about money and for how many? Is it about the fact, the pure love of fighting?


Well, the guys that get into it for the right reason are the guys.


Who get into it for greatness. Because you want to be the fucking best, right?


And when you're in it for that reason, you love it and you want to be looked at as the best ever.


And you have the talent, the money happens, right?


Then you have other guys who get in. Believe me, I've dealt with fighters who just wanted to be famous and just wanted to make money. You know what I mean? Listen, it is what it is.


It's your life and you live it.


The way that you want and do your thing. But the ones that are beloved are the guys who really want to be fucking great. And they're the ones that are remembered. When you look at Tyson in his early years, when he came up under mean, he was a student of the game. He loved everything. He became completely infatuated with the fight game. Then he became such a massive superstar. It's almost like the whole thing starts to turn on you. All the things that come at you at a young age and that kind of money, and it's tough. It's tough to navigate and get through. And you say something like that. People are like, oh, poor him. He had fucking $100 million and couldn't at that age. And with all the shit that people talk and all the things that you got to put up with and the fame, a lot of people deal with fame. Some people handle it really well and some people don't. And the perfect example of that was Forrest Griffin. And, you know, they fought that unbelievable fight on the ultimate fighter. Everything blew up after that. Forrest dealt with fame really well and Stefan did not.


That was a special fight, really was. What do you think attracted people to that fight? So that was a big leap for the US.


It was everything.


It was everything.


It was everything.


Why do you think people love that fight? What attracted people to that fight? Why did they change everything?


Well, what happened that night is the rest of the show was a know. We had the co main event, and the main event, Diego Sanchez ran through Kenny Florian in seconds. Oh, my was that was terrible. And the fights that led up to.


That weren't anything to talk about either.


Then Stefan and Forrest got in there and just went toe to toe in this unbelievable slug fest live on free.


Television when cable still mattered. And what I heard was at the time, you had people picking up the.


Phone going, are you watching this show? The numbers just started climbing. Then you got a razor thin decision.


Who'S going to win?


You got the crowd stomping their feet. It sound like a train was going through the place and everybody's chanting, one more round. Me and the Fertita brothers get together and we talk. We're going to give them both contracts. So we give them both contracts and the place erupts. It couldn't have been a more perfect.


Fight at the most perfect time. And it all came together. It's almost like this was meant to.


Be, you know what I mean? So we had so many problems with Spike TV at the time, right? Because halfway through the season, the president of the company got fired. All the things that we thought we were going to get that year, we.


Had this runaway hit show.


And normally at that time, when you would see runaway hit shows, there'd be commercials, it'd be on billboards, it'd be on the side of busses in LA and New York. We got none of that right. We didn't even know if we were going to get a second season coming.


Out of that right. And when that fight was over, I.


Swear to God, I was like, I don't even give a fuck. We're going to end up somewhere now after this fight. And we didn't even make it out of the building that night. The spike guys did the contract with us in the alley on a fucking napkin.


After the fight, you already saw the magic of the fight itself that happened.


And all the shit. And at that time, I didn't know what the ratings. Not like we were streaming and we could see what we were. We had no idea. But I knew.


You just knew. This is.


I knew.


What is it? It's like just two people being willing to stand toe to toe and just go to war.


And when you think about what was at stake, there was a car.


Remember the Kia?


The winner got a Kia, right? That's what was the fucking right. And Stefan and Forrest, the will to win. They both wanted to win that fight so bad.


It was bigger than the Kia, probably.


Forrest drove that Kia to, like, 200,000 miles. The biggest mistake Kia ever made was not doing a fucking commercial with Forrest Griffin about that car. Forrest Griffin loved that car so much. He drove it. I think he still has it. It's got, like, 200,000 miles on it. I mean, you couldn't have a better fucking commercial than that. And we reached out to him too. I said, kia should know about this. They fucking blew it. You got a bunch of. You know how those guys are in the business world. They don't fucking get anything.


Maybe it was about the Kia.


Then it was about winning. They both wanted to win the ultimate fighter so bad. It's the Kia. It's the win, it's the contract. You get the whole thing.


But I think at that point, you even forget all of that when you're in there. You probably just. There's a primal thing where, like, I'm not backing down.


They're both bad dudes. They were both real fighters at the end of the day. That's why the fight was so great.




You know what I mean?


Just throw it all the caution to the wind and just fight. Those are some of the greatest moments in the FC, too, when the technique is not kind of falls apart and you're just like, well, fuck it, because.


You'Re in those deep rounds. You've been through a war. Now. It's all about heart and dog, who can dig deeper and who's got it and who wants it. I mean, we all know when that moment happens in a fight, when you see that both of these guys are fucking exhausted. And for people that are watching this, people that don't know, a lot of everybody thinks they know a lot about fighting. 99.9% of the people out there don't know fucking jack shit about fighting or what it takes to do what these people do. But when you get into those later.


Rounds and fatigue sets in, and then.


Fatigue makes you start to fucking doubt yourself, and then you start to wonder, can I even make it through the rest of this round, and then you start to think, am I going to fucking die right now? And these kids dig fucking deep, and they just. Like you said, all the other shit flies out the window, and now they're just on fucking autopilot to fight and win. Those are definitely the best fights you'll ever see in any combat sport.


I mean, that saying is true. The exhaustion makes cowards of us all. There's something about. Because I've competed a lot in jiu jitsu, there's the violence of being hit, too. But even just exhaustion, it makes you question everything.


So true.


It just takes you to some weird place where your brain starts to think you're going to die for sure. Your brain starts to think, like, why am I doing this? All these excuses, all this. And then I love that the truly heroic action is to say fuck it, in that moment and just to get in there.


When you think about these fights that you see in the UFC every fucking Saturday, when these men and women get to this point where they've been in a dogfight, yet they keep fucking going, and you keep trying to win, you can't imagine what's going on inside their heads. Self doubt and all these other things that come into play when exhaustion sets.


In and they fucking power through it.


Yeah, those moments, sometimes they don't have a glorious knockout at the end, but your decision in the third round or the fifth round to still keep pushing forward, not running 100%, doesn't matter what happened. That is a person winning a battle over themselves.


So true.


It's so true.


And it happens every fucking weekend. It's so impressive. I say it all the time. The people that are involved in this.


Sport are this much of the population.


The people that make it to the top five are incredibly unique, special human beings.


Man. It's fucking awesome.


You love gambling.


I do.


What's the biggest win of your gambling career, maybe psychologically, if not financially?


Well, two things.


I won a million dollar hand one night. It's happened one time.


A million dollar hand one night at Mandalay Bay.


And then one summer, I beat Caesars for 12 million. Throughout the summer.


Throughout the summer, yeah.


And then I'm on a pretty good.


Run right now, too.


This is blackjack.




What's the biggest loss?


Biggest loss was. I would call this the biggest loss for many different reasons. This is what you live and you learn in life, and you figure things out as you go along.


So, one night, I'm over at the Rio, right?


And they got big suites over there. So I go over there with some buddies, and we got one of the suites, and we have some dinner, and we start drinking, right? So we're having some drinks at dinner, and blah, blah, blah, starts to ramp.


Up, having a good time, and I.


Make my way down to the thai limit room. We start gambling, and.


I continue to drink, having a blast. I end up leaving and going home.


That night, and I lost, like, 80 grand, right?


So I wake up the next morning.


I'm like, fuck, those motherfuckers got me for 80,000 last night. And da da da da. So I'm at work the next day, and the host over there calls me and he says, hey, Dana, are you coming back? Do you still need the room that you guys had where you ate and all the shit? And I said, no, I don't need.


The room, but don't get too comfortable.


With my fucking 80 grand. I'm coming back for it.




Dead fucking silence on the other end of the phone.


And he's like, dana, you lost $3 million last night.


What the fuck are you talking about? I only have a million and a half dollar credit line.


He goes, yeah, you made us call.


The GM of the hotel, and you started calling him a fucking pussy.


And I went, yeah, no, that sounds.


Like something I would do.


Yeah. So that's the real number.


That was the real then.


And then there's been a lot of cases where people are in Vegas and they're know, I lost all this know, and they were giving me free drinks and I drank too much, and I was taken advantage of. No, you stupid motherfucker. Man up. You got fucking drunk, right? Alcohol is free, but you don't have to fucking drink it. You know what I mean? And this was a huge learning lesson for me. So I never drank again when I was playing cards after that. I mean, when you ask me, that's the one that stands the most as far as having a bad loss. And then, of course, I said, call the GM. And I started calling him a pussy at 03:00 in the morning. So that is something I would absolutely do.


How do you deal with those? You, when you gamble? Maybe this applies to fighting, too. Do you love winning or hate losing more?


They go hand in hand. So the way that I play is.


I live in Vegas, so 2024 is.


A war for me. I go to war in 24, okay? All these nights that I play are little battles inside the war that I will fight in 24. Now, at the end of the year, we will tally up all these little battles and see where I stand on wins and losses. And there's lots of talk about out there, about my gambling places that I've been kicked out of and things like that. And I do pretty well. I do pretty well, but it's what I like to do. I don't gamble in a way that I would ever hurt myself or hurt my family. I'm sure you've heard the Norm MacDonald stories. Norm MacDonald lost his entire personal wealth.


Four times or something like that.


Yeah. That's not going to happen to me.


So you manage it, but just psychologically, you're able to be even killed.


So when I win, it's awesome. It's always great to win. Winning is a great feeling in business, in sports, in life, and definitely in gambling. Losing is never fun, but it's part of the game, you know what I mean? If you want to be in the game and it's sports, it's business or whatever, there's going to be wins and there's going to be losses, and you have to take them both in stride, and you have to be able to. There's a lot of people when you.


Gamble, right, and you lose and you.


Go into a deep, dark depression. I've seen this with guys that do it, get depressed. Gambling isn't for you. If you are the type of person that's on social media and people say horrible things to you and you get depressed and you shouldn't be on social.


Media, you know what I mean?


These are all part of being in the game. When you're in the fucking game, great things happen, and really bad things happen, and you got to take it all in stride, and you got to pick yourself up the next day, strap your fucking shoes back on, and get out there and go to fucking war again. That's how it works.


That's some goggin shit right there. All right. I love that motivational speech.


It's the truth, though. Yeah, it's the truth, though. Listen, every day when you get out of bed, life standing right there to kick you in the fucking face, man. Could be anything.


Could be.


You get up and you walk downstairs, you got a fucking flat tire, and you're late for work, and you got this and that life is going to throw all kinds of crazy shit at you, right? And you have to be ready for it, and you got to fucking deal with it. You can't curl up into a ball. You can't run away from it. You can't hide. You have to take all this shit head on. You have to get up. Every day when I get up out of bed, I strap up and I'm getting ready for fucking war because I know I'm coming in here. I know a bunch of bad shit's going to happen that I'm going to fucking deal with. And if that's not bad enough, when I finally get out of here, I'm probably going to go to the casino and I'm going to get into another fucking war. You know what I mean? I thrive in chaos. I actually love chaos. Everybody talks about retiring. Fuck that shit. What am I going to do when I retire? What would I do? I like to go to war. I like to battle. I like to win.


Sometimes I lose, but then I have to come back from the loss.


And I love to build brands.


I love to set short term and long term goals and then knock them all down. This is just the stuff that excites me. And whether it's business or gambling or. I like being a fan of things. Like, I like live music. So when I find a band that I like, I get excited to go watch the band live or Celtics game. I love the fucking Boston Celtics. And, you know, going to the games and watching them, this is the year. Hopefully we're going to fucking win it this year. These are all things that make me happy and excite me in my life. And it's funny because there's this post that I post maybe three, four nights a week.


I also love the city.


I can't tell if the city of Las Vegas was built for me or I was built for this fucking city.


But I love it.


And there's this turn on Summerlin Parkway, right?


Every night and it's dark, and from.


There you can see the entire fucking city. And it's all fucking lights and it's badass. And I'm usually driving home after a fucking incredible day, right? This amazing day and this unbelievable fucking life that I have. And I have this just moment of gratitude every time I take that turn. And I'm like, God damn, I love this fucking city. And just every night when I go home, I'm just so happy and grateful for this life that I have.


So you're grateful you're celebrating. Even if the day is full of shed, full of problems, you have to solve all this. You're still able to put that behind you.


I love that, too. I love problem solving. I love taking things that seem impossible. What's been shit on more than this fucking company right here? Power slap, right?




This thing's a fucking beast. It's an absolute beast. In 13 months, that's the most successful thing I've ever been a part of. And I love every fucking minute of it, especially the negativity. I love negativity.


So you almost feed on it. That's great. You're a build.


I eat that shit for fucking breakfast, man. I love it.


What's your favorite movie about, Vegas? Casino.


Yeah. It would have to be casino. No doubt about it.




You ever see a movie that changed your life, that actually impacted your life in some way, shape or form?




Which one?


That's a good question. I have to think. Well, I have a lot. A lot. Casino could be one of them. Probably taught me about women. Forrest Gump, for me, is a simple movie, but it was a really good movie to show it remind, because I've been really fortunate in my life, like over and over and over, and I don't think I deserve any of it. So I just always felt like Forrest Gump. So when I finally saw it, it really connected with me. It was like, okay, this universe works in weird ways, and stuff just materializes, and you just kind of be good to people. Like, put that good karma out there and it happens for you. So that was a movie like that.


I'm actually very superstitious about that. I believe that what you put out, you get back, and I believe that when you have, you should take care of other people, and you should always try to bring people up with you and all that kind of stuff.


But the movie that changed the whole.


Trajectory of my life was Vision Quest.


Well, yeah, that's a good one, too.


Vision quest. Man, I fucking love that movie. It's telling the story of a kid who really wasn't anybody in high school, and nobody kind of knew who he was, who wasn't popular or any of.


That kind of shit.


And he decided that that was the year that he was going to make his mark. And he was a good wrestler at 178 pounds, but he was going to move down to 160 something to take on the shoot, the scariest guy and whatever.


But there's all these little things in.


The movie that really lay out what.


Life is all about.


One of the parts is he's in a class, and he's talking about. The teacher is talking about some poem, and he says, what does this poem mean to you? Well, this little girl is walking through the park, and all the leaves are falling off the trees, and she realizes that she's going to die someday.


And that a lot of people think.


They have all this time. So they fucking waste it. And they never go out and do what they really set out to do or accomplish or do anything great in their life.


That's one meaning.


Then he's got the guy that he works with at work. He's cutting weight and his nose is bleeding and all this shit. And this guy keeps going, why the fuck are you doing this? Pick that thing up and eat it like a fucking man. This is ridiculous. I don't know why you're doing this to yourself. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


So then meets the girl, and he.


Gets to the point where he feels like he wants to quit, right? Where does he go? He goes to that guy's fucking apartment. Because he knows when he shows up at this guy's apartment, he's going to go, yeah, fuck this shit. No, he went to work. He went to work to talk to him, and he wasn't at work. He took the night off. So he shows up at the fucking house at the shitty little fucking apartment that the guy lives in, and the guy's putting a suit and tie on and shit. He's like, they said you called in sick. What's going on? He's like, yeah, aren't you wrestling this guy tonight? And he's like, yeah, but why would you? You're going to get docked tonight's pay. And all of a sudden she says.


You know what, man? Then it all gets laid out.


I get the goosebumps even telling you this fucking pale speech, pele. Yeah. When he's saying about I'm fucking cooking in an overnight hotel fucking thing, and I live in this shitty apartment. A human being can lift himself upside down and backwards and kick a ball into a fucking net. And the whole stadium goes crazy. And this guy runs around and I'm sitting here in my fucking apartment alone. And I start crying. Yeah, I start crying. So the guy who's been shitting on him the whole fucking time actually really respects him for what he's done and sees what this kid is capable of doing and all this shit. This fucking movie spoke to me on so many different levels, and I think it's probably the most underrated movie of all time when you really break down the meaning of what this movie is about. And it fucking really spoke to me.


That's probably the greatest movie on combat. One on one combat, I would agree. Ever made.


I would agree.




And especially if you can really hear.


The messages that it's giving you in this movie. It's excellent. You know what's funny? They just did like, the. And I saw this after the fact, which completely fucking pissed me off. They did, like, the 25 year or the 30 year thing. It was filmed in Spokane, Washington. They showed the movie at a movie theater there, and the cast members came out and spoke about it. I would have fucking flown there for that. Are you shitting me? I'd have been there in fucking 30 seconds to go up there and be a part of that. That movie literally changed my life.


Yeah, I suppose. Me too. It made me want to wrestle. I mean, probably the reason I was. Maybe it made me fall in love with wrestling.


Well, you know, it's funny. I wasn't even into wrestling at all, and I didn't have to be for that movie to.


Yeah, it's the basic human story.


It's such a great movie.


I mean, that's what fighting does. It brings out the basic. The humanity of a person, really, for the people that choose to step up and step in the ring and then chase greatness and actually do it from against the long ods. That's why it's a beautiful game.


And it's so true.


I mean, when you think about, I'm 54 years old right now, like that. I mean, it just fucking flew by. And you think when you're young that you have all this time. You have no time. There's no time. I mean, one of the quotes on the wall in the gym in there is. There is no tomorrow. From Rocky three. There is no tomorrow. Fuck that shit. Let's get all this shit done today.


Do you think about your death?


I'm not afraid of death. Not even a little bit. I'm not afraid of it. I don't know if that'll be the case when I'm facing it, when I'm looking down the barrel of it, laying in a hospital bed somewhere.


But for now, just squeezing as much as you can out of it, 100%, literally.


I don't even like to sleep. My life is so fucking awesome. I don't even want to go to bed at night. I don't even want to go to sleep. I want to stay up fucking. I wish I could fucking do 24 hours and never have to sleep. That's how much I love my life.


What has watching thousands of fights over the years taught you about human nature, about us humans?


I don't care what color you are, what country you come from, or what language you speak. We're all human beings. Fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it, and it's true. Fighting is in our DNA.


It's a part of who we are.


And no matter where you are, if a fight breaks out, it creates this fucking energy, this buzz, this sense of fear. I mean, a lot of different emotions.


Happen in people when fights break out.


But one thing that is always the case, everybody's watching, man. Everybody's fucking. All of their eyes are on the fight. I mean, we were just in Mexico. Fucking fight broke out, like, in the good seats, like right here with these seats that are super expensive and security never fucking came. They just let these guys fight until they gassed out. And then everybody put their chairs back together and sat back down and fucking, I literally got up from my table, walked over and was watching this fight at the fights at the.


I mean, humans fight, and humans love watching fighting.


Absolutely. And that was my thought process going into buying the UFC. And I believe that this would work everywhere. And thank God we were right.


Well, Dana, thank you for bringing this very human thing of fighting. The art of it, the science of it, the heroic stories, the vision quest stories of it all. Boom. Really appreciate you talking today, brother.


Thank you. Pleasure, budy.


Thank you for the kind words.


Thanks for listening to this conversation with Dana White. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with some words from Muhammad Ali. Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in a world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.