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Dana White: Viacom buying out Bellator means UFC is a “Mom & Pop” MMA group

By Zach Arnold | October 28, 2011

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Click on my incredulous face to see my sunny disposition during this interview with Ariel Helwani

So, after Nick Diaz says he regrets signing with the UFC and wishes he had gone boxing instead… and was busy blaming the UFC for why his fight with GSP got canceled… Dana White went into clean-up mode.

DANA WHITE: “He’s a man, he can handle himself and he’s been, I mean, as professional as you could be this week. The things that I’ve been hearing from my staff… he missed his flight the day that he was supposed to come here, then was on the next flight out of L.A. or wherever he flew out of and since he’s been here he’s been early to everything, he’s been… he’s been a pleasure to work with.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Did you give him any kind of ultimatum that if he didn’t play by the rules that it’s three strikes and you’re out, sort of speak?”

DANA WHITE: “The last time Nick and I talked about the situation was… I was in L.A. a long time ago, it was right when I was making the BJ Penn fight and I have not talked to him since. So, we had that initial discussion about taking the BJ, you know, taking the BJ fight and then… why he didn’t show up for the press conference and all that stuff and that’s it. Since then, it’s been a homerun.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “It seems like both BJ & Nick were both interested making this a five rounder. Was that just talk or were they both trying to, sort of, you know, play each other’s hands and say, you know, I’ll up the ante if you up the ante, that kind of thing?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah, well, what you guys hear and what goes on behind the scenes are two different things, you know? Listen, if both of those guys came to me and said ‘I want this to be a five rounder,’ I’ll make it a five rounder. What different does it make it to me?”

ARIEL HELWANI: “But they didn’t?”

DANA WHITE: “You have to do really seriously think about it and realize… you train for a three round fight a certain way, you train for a five round fight a different way. So… it’s kind of unfair to spring five rounders on people.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “What’s at stake for Nick in this fight? If he does win, is he still the #1 contender, the guy who will face the winner of Condit & GSP?”


ARIEL HELWANI: “What about BJ?”

DANA WHITE: “I don’t know. We got to figure that out. We’ll see what happens.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “And how has it been with BJ? He had that issue with the Countdown. He said he asked for a little more money to make it a five rounder. I mean, how are things between you and BJ? It’s been an interesting road throughout his career.”

DANA WHITE: “I was just going to say, I thought you were going to say throughout this fight. It’s been an interesting road, you know, for 10 years with BJ. You know… it is what it is, you know… I, uh… We’ve uh, you know, we’re still here, we’re still working together and… whatever.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Do you like him better at 155 or 170?”

DANA WHITE: “I think BJ Penn is a beast at either, man. I mean, that’s what I love about this fight on Saturday. You know how these two are when they walk out the Octagon, you know? They’re going to both be fired when they get in there, staring across at each other, and when that fight starts both guys are going to go after it and go for the finish.”

Dana White talks turkey on business, says Viacom buying out Bellator proves there’s no monopoly

Before he pontificates on why Viacom is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, Dana says he’s working super, mega-business deals.

“You guys will all see soon. I’m working on some stuff. It’s been crazy, man. As busy as we’ve talked about… how busy I’ve been over the last 10 years, the last two months of my life and the next three… it’s beyond explanation, it’s crazy. But, good stuff.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Yesterday, you said you were in New York and you had some other good stuff that was going on there. Care to share?”

DANA WHITE: “I met with Showtime yesterday. And I had a great meeting with them.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Usually, Lorenzo meets with Showtime. Why did you go this time?”

DANA WHITE: “I’m jumping in.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “You’re the new sheriff in town. What happened? You kicked him out? You didn’t like what he was doing?”

DANA WHITE: “No. You know, the way that it works is I’ve explained this before is Lorenzo and I divide & conquer, you know, we’re both so busy and we’re working on so much stuff and, uh… I think to sort of get this deal moving it needed the kinder and gentler side of the UFC in there first to get this thing going and… and, uh… and now I’m going to go in there and close it.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “So, you’re the closer?”

DANA WHITE: “Apparently.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “What is the deal? What happened yesterday?”

DANA WHITE: “We sat down in a room and we talked and I think that we had a great conversation. I think that we, uh… we moved the ball forward and… we’ll see what happens, you know what I mean? We’ll see what happens. There’s no deal done, there’s no… there’s nothing done. I just think we had a great meeting yesterday.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “So this means there a chance? A lot of people thought Strikeforce was on its legs. There’s a chance that Strikeforce may continue or maybe a UFC/Showtime deal or is that not even possible?”

DANA WHITE: “no, we’re exclusive with Fox. But, yeah, there’s a chance that Strikeforce lives.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “And I have to ask, the fact that Ken Hershman left to HBO. Did that make things easier? Is that why you came in?”

DANA WHITE: “It doesn’t hurt. I mean, you know, without digging all that stuff up and going back into it, this guy’s a… he’s just… he’s not a dealmaker, man. The guy he thinks he’s smarter than he is and, uh… he blew a massive deal over at CBS. He’s a deal blower.”

ARIEL HELWANI:Viacom purchasing Bellator. Does this surprise you at all?”

DANA WHITE: “No, I knew it. It news to you guys.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Why didn’t you tell us?!”

DANA WHITE: “It’s not news to me. I’ve known it for a long time. And… you know… yeah.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Do you think that this makes them, not, a legitimate threat but more competitive than they were?”

DANA WHITE: “I love what you guys say. ‘Are these guys a legitimate threat?’ A threat to what? Like they’re going to kill us? Threaten in what way?”

ARIEL HELWANI: “But do you have to keep them more on their radar? Because Viacom is not some Mom & Pop…”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah, exactly. Now we’re the Mom & Pops, right?”


DANA WHITE: “Now, we’re the Mom & Pops. Viacom’s sitting on $5 billion in cash. So, yeah, they’re not hurting for any money. They’re, you know, it’s, it’s uh… listen, it’s good for them. Good for them. I’m not looking at them, ‘oh my God, these guys are a huge threat!” You guys are so out of your minds. You, you, them (point to media), all them out here, and some of these fans are nuts. You’re nuts!”

ARIEL HELWANI: “I didn’t say they were a threat, I was asking you if you thought…”

DANA WHITE: “No, no, no. I’m not even saying they are a threat. You guys get all nutty like, ‘oh, this is the next thing! they’re coming up!’ and companies that we bought, ‘oh, they went in there and took them out!’ These companies that folded… they went out of business! They went out of business, they lost millions and millions and millions of dollars and when you’re losing that kind of money in this economy, you want to get the hell out of that business as quick as you can, OK? That’s what happened in the past with these other organizations and when you look at somebody getting on television… they were ALL on television. All those guys had television deals. I mean, even if you look at these guys now (Bellator), they were on Fox, they were on ESPN, they were on NBC. They’ve been everywhere. Just because you get on TV doesn’t mean it’s going to make you successful or something. You know, these guys got to get in there now and they got to run their business. It doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be successful, either, but you guys always love to come, ‘they’re a threat!” It’s crazy.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “On the flip side, does it prove that maybe all the people who are saying the UFC’s a monopoly… it’s not… really true because Viacom just bought a company that was, you know, all intents and purposes doing pretty well.”

DANA WHITE: “The people who’ve said the UFC is a monopoly are morons. It’s the most ridiculous, most ridiculous statement in the history… It’s so stupid. First of all, all these other organizations have been on some form of television and if you look at the landscape out there right now, you’ve got Viacom, Fox, Comcast, um… uh… who else am I forgetting, there’s another one out there… CBS, Viacom… um… and somebody else.”


DANA WHITE: “All these guys are… in the MMA business one way or another, you know? You got Hershman who just went to HBO who’s been involved in, in, in MMA. All these guys are in MMA and all these people are into it. Anyway, yes, if you thought that we were a monopoly before, if you are that stupid and if you’re that much of a moron and you don’t know what the term monopoly means and you thought that we were one… well, then what are we now? What are we now? Viacom isn’t a business, they sit on $5 billion dollars in cash. We’re now the Mom and Pops, all right? We’re not sitting on $5 billion in cash, I can tell you that.”

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

10 Responses to “Dana White: Viacom buying out Bellator means UFC is a “Mom & Pop” MMA group”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    I laughed when I watched this interview yesterday.

    Mom & Pop? Now that’s funny.

    Just because Viacom purchased a majority stake in Bellator doesn’t mean they have the entire company behind it. Bellator will still be required to make a marginal profit. And Bellator’s budget is much more likely to be a “Mom & Pop” size compared to what the UFC is working with.

  2. nottheface says:

    The man who has got to be kicking himself right now is Coker. If he could have convinced SVSE to wait on selling, he would have easily the most desired #2 promotion and probably a deal to air his proposed syndicated series on Spike. I’d think he’s on suicide watch right now thinking about what could have been.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      I doubt it. The cost to run Strikeforce would have been too much for Viacom to want to take on.

      The reason why Bellator was an attractive purchase is because they are so cheap.

      • nottheface says:

        But Showtime would have been still be picking up most of the cost, what Spike would have got is the weekly show Strikeforce was discussing putting together. Viacom would have probably still be looking at Bellator but Strikeforce would have easily been the more desired promotion with an existing roster of stars that could step into the UFC shoes. And more more importantly, since it is a highlight package show and not fight broadcasts, I think it could have been aired on Spike in 2012 with a UFC lead-ins.

        In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised that one of the main motivations Zuffa had for purchasing Strikeforce was to take them off the table for Spike.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Why would Viacom purchase Strikeforce if they didn’t have exclusive rights to their content and had to share it with Showtime? Makes no sense.

        • nottheface says:

          Where did I write anything about Viacom purchasing Strikeforce?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          That’s the only logical conclusion here. SpikeTV knows the MMA landscape by this point. They would either go with a Zuffa run feeder system, or buy the company so there is zero chance of Zuffa just killing years of work by a simple buyout like they did to Showtime with Strikeforce.

          Which means Strikeforce would have been the worst fit ever.

          Bellator was the only logical choice in the equation, even if Strikeforce was still around.

        • Nottheface says:

          But you’re working with 20/20 hindsight. If Zuffa hadn’t bought out Strikeforce in March then Viacom wouldn’t have felt forced into purchasing their own promotion to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen.

    • Michael Rome says:

      Now this is silly. He parlays a virtually worthless kickboxing company into a tens-of-millions of dollars payoff, and you think he is on suicide watch? What about his tenure on Showtime gave you the impression at all that he cared about competing with the UFC?

      I’d say he’s pretty happy right about now.

  3. Mr.Roadblock says:

    To revisit the talk about piracy from a few days ago, the numbers for Mayweather-Ortiz just came out. 1.25 million buys.

    Piracy isn’t why less people are buying UFC PPVs. It’s too many sucky cards and lame main events.


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