UFC president Dana White has had a lot at stake in the outcome of several bouts over the years.
When Chuck Liddell represented the fight promotion in the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix tournament the UFC provided training facilities and coaches for “The Iceman.” He knocked out Alistair Overeem in the opening round, but was finished by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the semifinals.
White was in the commentary booth that night and said, “He’s not sticking to the game plan.”
Heavily in debt, the organization paid to have their product seen on network television with The Ultimate Fighter reality show in 2005. It was a make-or-break gamble that paid off.
The first season of the series catapulted mixed martial arts into the American mainstream. Light heavyweight finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar went to war at the nationally televised finale. That fight may have saved the fight promotion from failure, and made the UFC brand a household name.
“I haven’t been this nervous for a fight probably ever,” said the UFC president during a media scrum in Las Vegas. “I want Conor to knock him out.
“It’s usually our guy versus our guy and whoever wins, wins. This is obviously a lot of stake here on both sides. So, I’ve been pretty nervous.”