Who, or what, is the UFC’s competition? Before Strikeforce, there was Affliction. Before Affliction, it was Elite XC. And on and on it goes: PRIDE FC, the IFL, so on and so forth. At least, that’s how most MMA fans and insiders see things. That’s certainly not how Dana White sees things, though. In a new and quite interesting interview, the controversial UFC President revealed that other major sports are his rivals, and not other MMA organizations. Here are all the details.
Here are some highlights from an interview White recently gave to USA Today: “…We look at other sports leagues and say, ‘Ok, we can be this big or bigger. How do we do it?’… It’s hilarious to me that when all the media and the fans talk about stuff — when you guys talk about Strikeforce and Affliction and IFL and all these other guys that were out there… If that’s seriously what you guys think is our (freaking) competition, you guys are (freaking) way out of the loop… My competition is the NFL. My competition is Major League Baseball.”
Here’s what I think is interesting about this interview. You may look at this interview and laugh at White comparing the UFC to sports leagues like the NFL and MLB. You can call him crazy to put himself on the level of two sports that are both revered as national pastimes in the USA. You could say that he’s skirting the issue of other promotions because, right now, he’s either bought out or killed all his major competition and that makes him look pretty ruthless. Here’s what I think.
I think Dana White is a ruthless businessman, but I also think you have to be ruthless in order to stay successful in a sport like MMA, with total mainstream acceptance still hanging in the balance and with the sport still not even legal in several big-money states. I think Dana White may be aiming too high when he looks to become a rival to the NFL and MLB, but I also think setting his sights too high is what led Dana White to be in the position he’s in right now: one of the key players in the largest, most successful, most prestigious MMA organization in the history of the sport.
People can laugh and mock Dana all they want, but this is something I’ve been saying for a long time now: I truly believe that Dana White continues to do everything he possibly can to make the UFC the biggest promotion of the biggest sport on the planet. Some of it I don’t agree with, some of it I wholeheartedly endorse. But the man lives, breathes, sleeps and dreams the UFC. And if you respect nothing else about Dana White, respect the fact that he wants to make MMA the biggest sport in the world and he believes that he can.
Now, does anybody else believe that the UFC could not only eclipse leagues like the NFL or MLB, but that MMA could become the biggest sport in the world? It depends who you ask. Me? I’d love to live in a world where the sport I love is universally accepted and appreciated. I’d love to live in a world where the mass media covers the next big UFC event as enthusiastically as they cover the World Series or the Super Bowl. It may take a long, long time before that ever happens. And to be honest, it may never end up happening.
But if Dana White dreams of doing the impossible, I say let him. He’s certainly achieved just that plenty of times in the past.
And what about you, fans and friends? What are your thoughts on this interview?