Dana White Tells Wall Street Journal, ‘We’re Already Bigger Than NFL’

May 7, 2012
50 Comments

Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White at UFC 100“We’re already bigger than the NFL.”

That’s a bold statement, but one that UFC president Dana White made when he and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta sat down for an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Among other things, the two discussed the UFC’s place in the sports world.

Is the UFC really going head to head with the NFL? White and Fertitta believe so… when you compare the two on a global basis, not confined to the sports community in the United States.

“We’re neck-and-neck with soccer,” said White. “Soccer isn’t huge here in the United States, but all over the world it is. The only other thing that could work is fighting.”

Check out more from White and Fertitta’s interview with The Wall Street Journal...


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  • RonnieV

    Keep dreaming Dana

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000279978844 panamarosado

    The UFC is as big as soccer? Dana White is dreaming. Soccer does huge stadiums on a regular basis, so does the NFL.

    If the UFC is bigger than soccer and the NFL, why are their fighters still making six figures? Athletes in top sports make salaries in the multi-millions. Floyd Mayweather just clocked $30+ million dollars for One Fight. The UFC isn’t even close to that.

    • Jay32

      Well you honestly don’t know much about MMA or Boxing. Boxing is ran by promoters essentially hence why they are making huge sums of money. Reason why the word ducking was invited. Once someone holds a title they can pretty much avoid fighting anyone that is a major threat to it. The fighters promotion handled setting up fights.

      In MMA the UFC although considered a promotion is more of a league. You fight who Dana tells you to fight. You and your own management have very little to do with fight making. Like professional sport leagues, fighters have paid salaries and a few whom are the draw of a particular event. They earn a small percentage of the ppv earnings. Chuck Liddell was making upwards of 5million if he was headlining a fight event, like he did against Couture and Ortiz.

      • Lesnardo

        “Chuck Liddell was making upwards of 5million if he was headlining a fight event, like he did against Couture and Ortiz.”

        I have no idea where you get this junk.

        In any case, you completely missed the argument.

        Go back to making up dumb excuses for UFC exploitation of its fighters.

        • kylesmith

          It’s called research. The headliners are making a couple million per fight, based on PPV buys. It all started with Chuck, he was the first fighter to make millions off of a fight. I agree that fighters should be making more, but the ones who are actually putting the butts in the seats are being taken care of.

          • Lesnardo

            “I agree that fighters should be making more,”

            yeah…

            Go find me a link that says that Chuck made $5million a fight.

  • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

    More people will probably attend NFL games this season than have attended all UFC events ever

    • KBEsq

      I think the headline is misleading, and a lot of people don’t read the story or watch the video (I’m guilty of that sometimes, too), but he said internationally.

      I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that the UFC is bigger than the NFL on an international basis, which is the qualification White clearly made on the video.

      Attendance at NFL games is not the determining factor, because that’s not how the UFC makes its money. Furthermore, the UFC puts on, at most, about 25 events a year. How can that compare to the number of games multiplied by the number of teams in the NFL, plus post season.

      • Lesnardo

        UFC is not even bigger than cricket internationally.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002352591498 keldricshannon

    I think what Dana is saying is that the only two major global sports are Soccer and the UFC. The NFL, NBA, and MLB are only huge here in America and nowhere else. The UFC is routinely selling out arenas around the world and would have pulled off a 60,000 to 80,000 soccer stadium show in Brazil if there weren’t so many complications and there’s no way in hell the NFL, MLB, NBA, or any other major sport could do that besides Soccer and the UFC.

    • clizzark

      The NFL has put on games outside of the US.

    • Jasediesel

      Dude there are many stadiums that hold 70k seatsn more Dallas stadiums holds over 100k seats. Dana might be able to pack a stadium but comparing to the NFL ….. Not quite

  • ultimatebrosky

    i lived in south america for five years and i can honestly say nobody there really cares about the superbowl or who the dodgers, yankees, lakers, steelers or any of that…for some reason they do like the ufc a loot…and soccer yeah they go ape $hl+ over that

    • Jasediesel

      Yea they are better known globally but from a financial point the NFL is worth 20 bill maybe even more by now financial experts say up to 50 billion in a few years… UFC 2 billion! So how can they be bigger

      • ultimatebrosky

        yep I agree with you… ufc (mma) has more global exposure than the NFL… there just seems to be more interest in mma on a global scale…. financially the ufc is still gonna be playing catch up for a while with the NFL…. NFL has the moola and ufc /mma has a much broader audience

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002352591498 keldricshannon

    Also, to panamarosado, the top fighters in the UFC do make millions of dollars. Not Mayweather millions right now but they’ll get there some day. Overtime when more sponsors get involved the money will rise for all the fighters. Dana just bought the UFC in 2001 and they’re not as established as most of the other major sports but there catching up to them pretty quickly.

    • Lesnardo

      I am fully convinced that you are a dumb nuthugger.

      “the top fighters in the UFC do make millions of dollars. Not Mayweather millions right now but they’ll get there some day.”

      -Very naive dumb statement..somewhat optimistic. Top of the food chain super star might make $2million a fight (I highly doubt this but let’s assume that Chuck did this).Mayweather makes $30m+ per fight. The sport has to grow x10. TEN TIMES. NOT THREE TIMES. TEN TIMES!

      “Dana just bought the UFC in 2001″

      -LOL! Nuthuggery. He didn’t buy sh*t.

      “there catching up to them pretty quickly.”

      -First of all, it’s they’re not there. Second of all, lagging behind ten folds…and catching up huh???? Lol!!!!!!

      • Brosoro Brosoro

        Dude anderson silva makes 5 million dollars per fight. GSP makes more but i don’t know the numbers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002352591498 keldricshannon

    In response to clizzark, the NFL puts on one game in London occasionally and nobody over there is really going crazy with excitement for it. Imagine the NFL trying to do what the UFC does which is easily selling out arenas and stadiums in Canada, Brazil, Sweden, Abu Dhabi, London, Australia, etc. The UFC and Soccer works everywhere in the world unlike all the other major sports.

    • Jasediesel

      Nfl doesn’t have to do that they can just do it here n make more money! NFL is worth more than the UFC. Point blank period

      • Lesnardo

        The stupidity of UFC nuthugging bandboy sheeps is just AMAZING!

        Wow!!!!

        Look, some of them KNOW that Dana made a STUPID comment. Not surprising but he did.

        But these NUTHUGGERS are not convinced that Dana is right.

        Just listen to them. Slowly, they are convincing themselves that the UFC is the best sport in the world or if not will eventually become the best sport. Why? Because I WATCH IT!!!

  • D-rail

    Baby eagle on an ego trip. Bigger than Soccer Dana really? Soccer stadiums sell out on a regular basis dummy. Just because the UFC sells out one or two a year in different countries, which sounds about right, doesn’t make u bigger than soccer dummy. That’s the soccer kick to the head talking……keep dreaming!

    • Lesnardo

      This is why Fertittas love Dana.

      Fertittas are so connected with the upper-class that they would be embarrassed to say stuff like this. But Dana, he doesn’t care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002352591498 keldricshannon

    The UFC will easily be worth more than the NFL in the near future. They basically went from being worth nothing to being worth 2 billion in only 10 years. With all the big TV deals that they’re doing around the world right now they might reach 20 billion in the next 10 years. It took the NFL many decades to become what it is here in the U.S.(and only here because no one else in the world wants to see it) and the UFC will reach those numbers of the NFL in less than half that time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shawnsims888 shawnsims

    32 NFL teams worth approximately 30 Billion, Zuffa is broken down by 4 owners. The Fertitta brothers (40.5% each), Dana White (9%) and Sheik Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi (Flash Entertainment) (10%). The union lock out of the NFL or NBA and you have bankrupt owners fairly fast. Baseball has never been the same since that issue. its not an apples and apples comparison for value, but the UFC may outgrow the NFL based on the world stage.

    • Lesnardo

      Keep dreaming.

      Not sure what the ownership profiles of Zuffa has to do with anything.

      You just wanted to show off your lil internet research skills?

  • D-rail

    No arguments on the NBA or the NFL, but soccer is a bit of a stretch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002352591498 keldricshannon

    No doubt soccer is still the biggest sport, but the UFC is the only other sport that is successful in every single country around the world like soccer and has the potential to be as big as or surpass soccer in popularity. Also, many athletes are beginning to turn to MMA rather than the other major sports as it grows in popularity not just here but around in the world.

    • Lesnardo

      No it does not. Soccer is watched by people from different age and income bracket.

      MMA is a sport only in the minds of the groupies that follow it.

      • fightfankevin

        So where do you figure MMA is only watched by one age or income bracket? Sure theres a target audience but that doesnt rule out others.

        • Lesnardo

          I never said “only” watched.

          Typical MMA groupie logic. lol!

          “No~! MMA is a mainstream sport since my neighbor’s dad, who is 62, watches it!”

          “No~! Girls watch MMA too! My sister watches it!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002352591498 keldricshannon

    No doubt soccer is still the biggest sport, but the UFC is the only other sport that is successful in every single country around the world like soccer and has the potential to be as big as or surpass soccer in popularity. Also, many athletes are beginning to turn to MMA rather than the other major sports as it grows in popularity not just here but around the world.

  • voltaire64

    Bigger than the NFL outside of North America but he’s gotta put his pipe down if he thinks the UFC is bigger within the continent.
    Outside of the US the UFC doesn’t come close to touching soccer. Even Cricket beats the UFC in many markets.
    They can saturate the global market all they want, the minute ZUFFA starts charging them 50 or 60 bucks for ppv’s they’ll get a quick dose of reality.

    • Lesnardo

      “Even Cricket beats the UFC in many markets.”

      So true.

      This is Dana’s argument.

      (1) The UFC is bigger than soccer in the United States.
      (2) The UFC is bigger than NFL outside the United States.
      (3) Therefore, the UFC is bigger than Soccer and NFL combined!!

  • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

    My point about the attendance of NFL games versus UFC is that the UFC has broad but shallow appeal. That is it can sell in lots of countries, but only like 15,000 seat arenas. 15,000 out of a country of millions does not mean that country is crazy about the sport, it means a very small subset of it is. That is how the UFC is in the US. The NFL has millions of fans in the US, the UFC does not. If the UFC is crazy popular than why does it struggle to sell out even small arenas except for the occasional mega-card? (of course this might be because their tickets are ridiculously high)

    • fightfankevin

      Because you are comparing apples to oranges. Take the average UFC event and compare it to an NFL game, sure the NFL gate will draw much more money than the UFC but how much does the NFL make in pay per view revenue? The UFC averaged around 400k ppv buys over the 2011 year, and figure at least 45 bucks (55 for high def). The UFC doesnt have to sell out soccer stadiums every month.

      • Lesnardo

        Completely missed the point.

        Look, UFC receives majority of its earnings from PPV. Soccer stadiums are 10x bigger than UFC venues.

        UFC is not a mainstream sport. NFL is a national sport.

        I know you love the UFC. But stop trying to convince yourself that UFC is somehow equal to or only less worse off than the NFL.

        Didn’t you write something about UFC being better than boxing?

        • burt

          The gate numbers for the UFC and NFL are probably 3rd on the list of revenue streams. Venues are basically TV studios. The TV contract is #1, event sponsors #2. They could have empty stadiums and still be making boatloads of money.

      • DanaWhiteisaDouche

        apples to oranges is irrelevant. We are taking about sport compared to sport. The UFC has 15000 person arenas, and granted their ticket prices are higher, but per event the NFL makes 4 to 5 times more in just ticket sales… And you say the NFL doesnt have Pay per View? that’s a big load of BS. NFL sunday ticket? where NFL fans pay $200+ for the whole season. and MILLIONS of people buy that per season, making way more than the few, occasional mega cards which brings in significant PPV money. thats not even counting the TV deals the NFL has with CBS, NBC,FOX and ABC which all Net a way bigger profit than the UFC’s tiny Fox and FX deals.

        Case in Point is, the UFC may have more fans worldwide, but to call them bigger than the NFL, especially in terms of money, is flat out idiotic. maybe, and a huge maybe! as the NFL is growing substantially every year, The UFC will come close in 10 to 15 years.

  • kylesmith

    Not that hard to understand. Nobody outside the US cares about the NFL, and the UFC is watched all over the world. I love football but we’re pretty much the only country that plays it growing up. Fighting, on the other hand, is an international language.

    • Lesnardo

      Dumb statement! LOL!

      For the last ten years, the UFC has been saying that they are better than boxing and WWE.

      Then now, they are talking about the NFL.

      Soon, they will say that the UFC is stronger than the US ARmy.

  • Shutdown

    Puffery from the UFC owners

  • hollafront1314

    if thats the case then why is he paying his fighters middle class wages..

    • Lesnardo

      I will answer that.

      This is a two part question. First, is the UFC paying middle class wages. If so, why?

      Yes, the UFC is paying middle class wages. Athlete wages must be discounted for life span of the career. That is, because most UFC fighters can only expect to fight for 10 years, you have to divide their earnings by 4. That gets you to middle class wage.

      Second, the UFC has made various excuses. One popular excuse is that fighters get PPV bonuses that are undisclosed. And supposedly these bonuses are so much bigger than the fighters’ disclosed salaries that every top 10 fighter in the UFC makes #2million per fight. Another popular excuse is the sponsorship money the fighters get. Pretty much none of the fighters have major sponsors like Nike (really? Even Cricket gets Nike sponsorship!) Why? Nike and other established brands do not see MMA as a real sport. So fighters are endorsed by companies by Condom Depot and Xience and other crappy companies that pay $2000~$10,000.

      Oh yeah! None of the fighters get paid for the UFC game! But that doesn’t really matter right? PPV + Endorsement makes most fighters in the UFC millionaires!!!

  • maddawgmar

    My view is simple… An entire nation pretty much halts one day a year for a sporting event. Super Bowl Sunday is basically a national holiday, and draw more TV viewers, commercial and sponsor cash, and attendance than any sporting event in the world. This includes FIFA, Olympics, UFC, Boxing, World Series, NBA Championship, Wimbledon, the masters….. The list can go on forever. None can touch the Super Bowl. I believe that event makes more money in that one day than the UFC makes in a year. I love the UFC and MMA but they can’t even get sanctioned in NY, they have a long way to go to even be mentioned in the same sentence as the NFL.

    • joan

      Are you saying that the superbowl get more viewers and money that the soccer world cup every 4 years? Are you insane?

      • Lesnardo

        He is saying, if I am not mistaken, that Superbowl Final MATCH sells more than any SINGLE sporting MATCH. (I find this claim to be hard to believe. World cup is watched in every country whereas Superbowl is only watched in the US).

        Superbowl final match sells more than World Cup FINAL MATCH.

        No sane person would say superbowl (the entire tourney) sells more than the entire Olympic or World Cup.

        But then again, UFC fanboys tend to me uneducated and think the world evolves around MMA.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001816514145 hessuhopo

    Well he is wrong about everything else he said except maybe the commercial/sponsor money.

    Football(soccer) worldcup/olympic/champions league finals draw crazy numbers and no matter how you look at it superbowl viewer numbers aren’t bigger. In many, many countries those days also pretty much halt the days they are on just like superbowl does in the U.s.

    For example the World Cup final in 2010 was estimated of having a live tv audience of 400 million people. Even if every single person in the U.S watched superbowl it wouldn’t come close since it really isn’t watched a lot outside of the U.S. A league game, not a final of any sorts, a league game between Manchester United and Manchester city like 2 weeks ago was estimated of getting an audience of 650million people. I’d really like to see the maths that have superbowl viewer numbers coming ANYWHERE CLOSE to what football draws from a worldwide audience, really.

  • salomon alvizo

    Ok dana if the ufc is bigger that the nfl why are the fighters so fucken under paid like rampage jackson who is gone now and why are the hall of famers so broke if they started the lucrative sport of mma mothafucka

  • Burt

    If they are bigger than the NFL, and arguably they do have a larger global reach being seen in 148 countries, why are 90% of the fighters paid so crappy?