Dana White was installed as the president of the UFC after Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought the company in 2001. White, who was still a manager to the likes of Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell at the time, didn't expect to be welcomed to the promotion as its president.
"We bought this thing (the UFC) for $2 million. And I didn't know what was going to happen. They called me in one day, and they said, 'We want you to be the president of the UFC'. We'd never done anything in television production before, but we knew exactly what we wanted. And in that goal, we wanted to build the UFC into the biggest brand in the sport," said White.
Dana White alerted the Fertitta brothers about the Semaphore Entertainment Group's (SEG) decision to sell the UFC. After the Fertitta brothers bought the promotion in 2001, SEG reportedly sold all company assets to steer clear of bankruptcy.
White and the Fertittas built the company from scratch and remodeled its structure, which eventually gave rise to the biggest MMA promotion in the world.
Dana White and the Fertittas almost sold the UFC in 2004
The UFC flourished under the leadership of Dana White but the promotion was still undertaking massive losses. According to CNN, the UFC incurred a whopping $34 million loss despite impressive gate revenues. As a result, Dana White and the Fertitta brothers almost sold the company three years after purchasing it.
"Lorenzo called me one day, and said, 'listen, I can't keep doing this, man. I want you to go out, see what you can get for this thing (the UFC). And I called Lorenzo at the end of the day, and I said, 'I think we can get $6 million for it. Maybe we can get $8 million'," said White.
However, the Fertittas decided not to stick with the promotion. To boost popularity, they launched a reality television series 'The Ultimate Fighter' (TUF). The first season of TUF was aired on Spike TV in 2005, which culminated in a historic fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. TUF introduced the UFC to a new audience demographic which helped the company survive.
In 2016, the Fertitta brothers sold the UFC to a talent agency firm called WME-IMG in a $4 billion deal. According to ESPN, Dana White's share of the company under the new deal is nine percent.