The Ultimate Fighting Championship extended its contract with ESPN on Monday, and it seems as though Dana White also got a new deal to remain as UFC president in conjunction with that announcement.
“We had a five-year deal with them. Now we have a seven-year deal. And [UFC parent company Endeavor CEO] Ari Emanuel and I just signed a seven-year deal too,” White said in an interview with Megan Olivi. “So we’re here for seven years, ESPN is here for seven years. The incredible things that we’re gonna work on, I can’t even tell you for how pumped I am.”
When Zuffa sold the UFC to WME-IMG in 2016 for more than $4 billion, White signed a five-year contract to remain as promotion head and reportedly sold his nine percent share in the company for $360 million. It was also reported that White would receive nine percent of the promotion’s net profits going forward. Terms of the new deal were not disclosed.
Regardless, White is ecstatic about the direction of the company, particularly regarding the new terms of the partnership with ESPN.
“It’s incredible for the fans. It’s an exclusive deal. We are exclusively with ESPN,” White said. “When we were with everybody, we couldn’t even offer discounts on pay per views. You had to get the approval of all these different groups. Now it’s a one-stop shop. It’s not all worked out exactly how it’s gonna go down but this is amazing for UFC fans. They’re gonna be able to get so much more value out of the fights whether it’s ESP + or pay-per-view, now with everything being with ESPN. We did this because it’s good for everybody. It’s good for us. It’s good for the fighters. And it’s absolutely, positively incredible for the fans.
“People will get nervous about this whole streaming thing, but I hate to break it to you, but streaming is where everything is going.”
In fact, White believes that with the ESPN deal, the UFC has taken its place among the top four sports in the United States.
“Nobody does it better than ESPN does. When they dive in and do a piece on somebody it’s incredible. The first big fight that we really did on ESPN+ was [T.J.] Dillashaw and [Henry] Cejudo, and you couldn’t get away from that fight,” White said. “This is gonna be a whole other level of exposure for these fighters. What we do with these guys in the next seven years is gonna be ridiculous.
“A lot of big things have happened to us over the years, but once you make it to ESPN, that’s when you know you’ve made it as a sport,” he continued. “Right now if you look at our deal, where we’re at and what we’re doing, we’re now one of the top four sports in the United States. The Big Four has changed. We are one of them.”