UFC President Dana White: “It Would Be Tough to Not Call Us One of the Major Sports”

November 11, 2013
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Dana White UFC Fan Expo 2013-LogoWith The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s twentieth anniversary event rapidly approaching, the history of the organization and its path from sports’ greatest spectacle to mainstream acceptance has been a walk down nostalgia lane for many, while others are seeing the road to recognition for the first time.

Once banned from television, today the UFC is an international sports juggernaut with its own reality series, offices around the world, and events held on nearly a weekly basis.

For hardcore fans, the question was never if mixed martial arts would make it, but when? After the success of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005, the when was answered, and the questioned turned to, how big could the sport get? Will it ever be on the level of the NFL, MLB, the NBA or NASCAR?

UFC president Dana White believes the sport is beginning to receive the recognition of a major sport, but still doesn’t consider it mainstream.

“I think we’re starting to get there now,” said White on a recent media conference call. “I don’t think we’re mainstream yet. I really don’t. I know people disagree with me when I say that. But I think we’re starting to be looked at as one of the major sports now.

“If you look at what we’ve done on television, it’s pretty amazing, and our live events, what we do at venues. It would be tough to not call us one of the major sports,” added the UFC president.

The definition of mainstream may differ depending on who you ask.  It’s not just having a longterm network television deal and generating advertising dollars from companies like Bud Light and Harley Davidson to White.  It’s not just having athletes sponsored by traditional sports sponsorships like Nike, Reebok and Gatorade.

“To me, mainstream is when you walk down a street in any city anywhere and everybody knows what you are, and we’re not (there yet.)”

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  • tyrone

    You can’t be considered a sport when you allow trt belfort to keep fighting untested in brazil.dana lies a lot and we are supposed to take his word, “belforts clean “!lol!

    • Joker

      Brazil has a sports commission the same as the US. They test their athletes in the same manner as it is here. American Sheep.

      • tyrone

        Wipe your chin off, you got a little of belforts trt dripping, you guzzler

        • gfhjj

          I didn’t know Vitor chooses where he wants to fight? Pretty sure the UFC chooses. TRT is a “black eye” for the sport, no doubt.

          But all the flack the guy gets who LIVES in Florida, not even in Brazil is getting a a bit too much.

          So why would the UFC risk there entire brand and the credibility of the sport of MMA just to let Vitor Belfort fight in Brazil and get away with cheating.

          • Action Movie Fanatix

            They wouldn’t. He’s nowhere near a big enough star to warrant special protection like that.

            He fights in Brazil because he draws good money for the UFC there.

            And he is allowed to use TRT because the rules allow it and he has the necessary doctor’s permission.

    • Usmc8408

      There are things that are illegal and shouldn’t be, and things that are legal that shouldn’t be. Like it or not TRT is legal, so you can’t blame rhe fighters or discredit their fights because of it. There was a time when “andro” was legal and athletes benefited from it. If it gives too much of an edge it should be banned. Until then we just have to accept it.

    • Jeremy Nm

      It’s the commissions that allow it. Not the UFC. Get your facts right. If it was up to Dana White, he would have already banned it.

  • tray

    Trt belfort kinda taints ufc as a sport.allowed to continually fight un tested in brazil. More of a circus less a sport

    • solo

      Damn, why talk about Belfort on the article thats not about him!


    I don’t have the patience to watch cars go around 240 times.

  • Timothy Malone

    He is correct. Definitely a major sport, but also definitely not mainstream.

    In thinking about all the sports bigger than the UFC though, they are all team sports. I wonder if people need the team unity aspect to really get into cheering on events. I don’t think a sport about individuals can be as big as a sport about teams.

    • solo

      i agree on everything you point out there. you can only make an argument on Tennis being bigger sport than some team sports.

  • Chicago

    i have been getting UFC news on the main page of my yahoo account for the past 5 months. Its a bit strange, but glad to see mma on the map.

  • Stefano ‘Zwonimir’ Sega Nogaro

    isn’t a major sport in any country in this world, simply it’ll never overtake team sports

  • blob

    It will never surpass soccer (as you call it)

  • onehitwonder

    UFC is the only sport that can keep my attention, football is ok but still puts me to sleep, basketball is like watching tennis, and hockey always gets stopped by a referee before the action can start.