It’s been a remarkable journey thus far for UFC President Dana White and on Friday night, he achieved yet another milestone. The colorful and sometimes polarizing leader of the world’s largest and most powerful MMA organization was inducted into the Southern Nevada Hall of Fame.
His induction isn’t just about how successful he has helped make the UFC on a global scale, though. Rather, it’s mostly because of the massive impact his company has had on southern Nevada, more specifically Las Vegas. Because of his relentless pursuit to make the UFC the biggest sport in the world, the MMA giant is now the top-grossing entertainment avenue in the Silver State on an annual basis, surpassing NASCAR, The National Finals Rodeo and even professional boxing.
Because of how well White has handled the company’s direction and promotion, the UFC reportedly now brings in over $700 million in revenue to Las Vegas for the number of UFC-based events that are held in the city each year. All total, the company has brought in over $5 billion dollars of revenue into Las Vegas and it’s mostly because of White’s vision and dedication to a sport he cherishes. With that much money streaming into the city, it automatically means consistent employment opportunities for thousands of people whenever a UFC event is held in its hometown: arena workers, bars, clubs, limo services, hotels, casinos, etc.
But as most know already, it wasn’t an easy hill to ascend. White and Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC, struggled mightily early on before finding the success it enjoys today.
“As you know, we were losing a ton of money on this thing,” White said during his induction speech. “We were $44 million in the hole but we never gave up. That’s some big money.”
“When Dana learned that the UFC was for sale, he encouraged me and my brother Frank to take a shot and purchase the business,” Lorenzo Fertitta, co-owner of the UFC and fellow SNHOF member, said before he introduced White to the dais. “Dana was one of the hardest working and smartest guys we knew. Everybody thought this was a dreadful idea but it was Dana who had the entrepreneurial vision and foresight to really do something in combat sports on a different scale. [Eventually] we’ve become the No. 1 sporting event from an economic standpoint in the city.”
On top of how massive a company White has turned the UFC into, the man has been a charitable person behind the scenes. He’s donated untold millions of dollars and precious time to various organizations throughout Las Vegas and as Fertitta said beforehand, White would lend a hand to help out anybody. That quality has been the catalyst in making the UFC what it is today and why White was inducted into the SNHOF.
“People always say that they’re honored, but I truly am honored tonight,” White said. “People always ask me to look back on what all we’ve accomplished and what we’ve achieved. We still haven’t achieved what we set out to do.”
For a man who has helped enshrine the likes of Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture into a world class Hall of Fame, it was fitting to see Dana White choke back tears a few times and genuinely appreciate his own induction. He’s a man hell bent on turning the UFC into the world’s biggest sport, a dream he says will never die until it is realized.
But, as he said in his speech, it’s not a one-man show. White acknowledged many people during his speech and credited everybody he works alongside for the success of the UFC and how great of an impact the brand has had in Las Vegas. White has always been front and center for the media to maintain the UFC’s upward arc, but on a night when it was all about him, he wanted it to instead be about his team of superstars that has bred success.
Dana White has earned his spot in the Southern Nevada Hall of Fame and anybody who lives in and around Las Vegas clearly understands that. The impact the UFC has on the State of Nevada is almost incalculable and it’s due to the undying perseverance and for working harder than anybody else that got him inducted. If and when there is an international MMA hall of fame, Dana White will most certainly be a first ballot inductee.
You can also follow Mike Sloan on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mikesloan19