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The 'Updated' Dana White / UFC Progress Report

By Robert Rousseau,
Nearly nine months ago, released a progress report on how Dana White and the UFC were doing. Why not simply call it a UFC progress report?

Because as President of Zuffa, LLC, the organization that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship ( UFC ), Dana White can take a lot of credit for both the growth and problems the UFC encounters. Along with this, even if he couldn't the general public would still attribute much of it to him anyway.

Since that progress report was released, things have changed in a big way for Dana White and the UFC. Thus, it's time for an update.

Dana White is a different kind of financial leader. First, he has a boxing background which gives him a bit of insight when it comes to the fighters he works with. Second, he likes to get up close and personal with the athletes and events under his watch. He himself is even a celebrity of sorts, perhaps not willing to be relegated to the background. Some don't like him because of this.

Heck, White sometimes even swears on national television. Now how many times have you seen an NFL general manager do that?

Guess is, he doesn't care. In fact, all Dana White does seem to care about is the UFC and how it's doing. With that, we're going to do what the general public tends to; we're going to give Dana White credit for everything that is UFC, at least for today.

Things that the UFC and Dana White deserve an A grade for

Saving the UFC. -You know the drill. When Dana White called Lorenzo Fertitta to let him know what Bob Meyrowitz had told him- that the UFC was for sale- he sparked something.

After all, according to the story, a month later Zuffa owned the UFC and White was named president.

Back when this all occurred (in 2001) this was a very risky maneuver. The UFC had been banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission ( NSAC ) and were being attacked by politicians for brutality, most notably, by Arizona Senator, John McCain. All of this had caused pay per view providers to ban UFC events, which of course made financial growth more than difficult.

Yet White and the Fertittas ( both Frank and Lorenzo ) saw the organization through these dark times rather quickly. With Lorenzo being a former member of NSAC, the UFC quickly became sanctioned later that same year. In fact, by UFC 33 they were even back on pay per view.

White certainly deserves credit for his part in this process. However, that's just a walk down memory lane. Now to the heart of the matter:

The Ultimate Fighter Reality Television Show

Perhaps the greatest move in the history of the UFC and mixed martial arts in general. When the The Ultimate Fighter Reality Television Show ( TUF 1 ) first aired on Spike Television, it immediately drew the masses. What was this thing called MMA, people wondered? After all, most had never come across the sport on regular television.

Well, as trainers like Randy "The Natural" Couture and Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell showed the participants what it really took to become an Ultimate Fighter, it spurred interest and appreciation for the sport. In addition, personalities like Forrest Griffin, Chris Leben, and Diego Sanchez also drew viewers in.

All of this came to a head when millions were treated to one of the greatest MMA brawls in history at the TUF 1 finale ( Stephan Bonnar versus Forrest Griffin I ).

Along with this, hordes of new MMA fans were born.

At present, the TUF shows really serve as a minor league of sorts for the UFC. Further, fighters like Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Kenny Florian have done very well since assuming their UFC careers, which adds to the relevancy of the show.

Ultimate Fight Night - Dana White and friends were smart enough to realize what they'd hit on with the TUF shows. Simply put, if you want to introduce a sport to the American public, put it on televison!

And that's exactly what they did. The UFC now has a running deal with Spike Television, hosting regular UFC shows on television.

Bringing the Lightweight Division back. - With the success that PRIDE's Bushido series ( lightweight battles ) had been enjoying, this became an obvious move. Lightweight fighters bring excitement through extreme speed. Now that they have a deserving champion in Sean Sherk, the division that houses these more diminutive fighters will only serve to bring more notoriety and drama to the UFC.

Which of course translates to a broader fan base and more money coming in.

Bringing Royce Gracie back to fight Matt Hughes

Such a smart move that it deserves its own category.

Many less avid fans that had lost track still knew Royce Gracie as the greatest UFC fighter of all time. Perhaps that's still a fair assessment, even today, considering what he meant to the sport.

Regardless, for these fans and more, Gracie had taken on near mythical proportions. Thus, bringing him back to fight Matt Hughes, arguably the UFC's most accomplished present day fighter, was a very smart move. After all, the fight accomplished two things.

First, it brought back a bunch of fans that wanted to see Royce Gracie again.

Second, Matt Hughes's decisive win, ushered in a new era where present day fighters could be looked on with the same reverence, perhaps, as Gracie once had achieved.

General Fighter Recruitment

The last time a Dana White / UFC progress report was issued, PRIDE was still around. However, since the Fertittas gobbled up that organization elite mixed martial artists have been coming to the UFC in droves.

Some of the names? Quinton Jackson, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Heath Herring, and most recently, Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva.

The Heavyweight Division

Okay, the last time a progress report was released, the UFC Heavyweight Division grade was poor. Why? Simply because no one knew how good the UFC heavyweights were because they hadn't fought much in the line of international competition.

Further, when that initial progress report was put out, Dana White and the UFC were called on to lure some big names to their organization; guys like Cro Cop, Emelianenko, Nogueira, and Werdum.

How does three out of four sound? That's right, since the last progress report was put out the UFC and White have done a remarkable job persuading PRIDE's former heavyweight elite to come on over. Further, it seems like it's only a matter of time before Emelianenko follows suit.

Or is that Fedor to Hero's rumor true? We'll see.

Things that Dana White and the UFC deserve a B+ grade for

Upper echelon fighter salaries. - At UFC 73, Tito Ortiz made $210,000 while Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira made $200,000. At UFC 71, Chuck Liddell, the UFC's most recognizable name, made a whopping $500,000 in his loss to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (who, coincidentally, made $225,000).

The big names continue to make more money than ever. Thus, this grade went from a B to a B+ based on this continuation (when we last ran this progress report, Liddell had made $250,000 in his win over Randy "The Natural" Couture).

Now that's progress. That said, it's still less than what elite boxers make.

Putting Dana White on television

Some people can't stand that White is a part of the TUF shows. Why would an organization president get so much air time? After all, does the NFL commissioner find his way onto ESPN behind the scenes specials?

Still others like enjoy seeing him on the show. White's love of MMA and the fighters seems to come through on TV. What's more, he's an entertaining personality, unlike most stuffy executives.

Heck, he even swears and yells.

Whether you like him or hate him, here's the thing. All press is good press.

Dana White and the UFC's only C+ grade.

Pay Per View costs - Okay, this one was a C last time. At present, the cost is still doable and it hasn't moved up any since the last article. However, if that price tag creeps any higher than $39.95, the UFC may start losing people.

But since the price hasn't risen, the grade has.

Remember, PPV prices did contribute to boxing's demise.

Middle tier fighter salaries

At UFC 71, Karo Parisyan made $32,000 for his victory over Josh Burkman That's double what he made at UFC 59.

Parisyan is actually better than mid tier; however, he was mentioned last time.

Still, Ivan Salaverry made only 17,500 at UFC 71. Though these are only a couple of examples, they serve to illustrate that non- elite salaries are moving up, but they still make it difficult for up and comers to survive (if Salaverry fights three times in a year at that rate he makes only $52,500).

You can understand why newcomers/ unknowns to the UFC oftentimes make only $3,000, as they haven't yet proven themselves. Just think that those mid level guys need to make a little more.

That said, the way things are going they soon will.

Taken together, Dana White has done an outstanding job with the UFC. They seem to keep moving in the right direction, and guess is that within a year or two all of these grades may creep up to the B range.

. The only major issue we didn't touch on is steroids. However, it's still too early in that fight to issue a grade. Check back in about a year on that one.

In the end, people can say what they will about Dana White, but he clearly knows what he's doing. No, he isn't the only name behind the UFC (after all, the Fertittas deserve a lot of credit). However, he is the straw that stirs the drink, no?

Related Articles:

Dana White: "It's always shocking to see Chuck Liddell get knocked out."

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