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Why Dana White would never agree to a cross-promotion event with Bellator

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor World Press Tour - London
Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor World Press Tour - London
ANALYST
Modified 08 Apr 2021
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MMA fans dream of a collaboration between the two leading promotions, UFC and Bellator. Social media is full of fantasy matchups pitting champions from both promotions against each other.

Imagine a card featuring Pitbull Friere vs Alexander Volkanovski, Douglas Lima vs Kamaru Usman, Cyborg vs Amanda Nunes 2 and Vadim Nemkov vs Jan Blachowicz.

Unfortunately, these super fights will remain dreams moving forward. While Bellator boss Scott Coker has indicated he would be open to a cross-promotional event with UFC, his counterpart UFC president Dana White is not.

Let’s take a look at the reasons why Dana White would never agree to a cross-promotion with Bellator MMA.

Competition

Bellator star Pitbull Freire
Bellator star Pitbull Freire

What do Affliction, Elite XC, WEC, Pride and Strikeforce all have in common?

They were all competing against the UFC and failed. In fact, most of these organizations ended up being bought by the UFC.

The UFC is the dominant MMA promotion that eats their competition, they don't work with their competitors. This mantra is one reason why Dana White would never agree to promote a card alongside Bellator.

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Yes, the UFC worked with Floyd Mayweather to promote his fight with Conor McGregor but that’s different. The ‘Money Fight’ was a boxing bout, a different sport and a gold mine for the UFC without any real risk on their part.

Dana White also happens to be a massive boxing fan and seems to be constantly promising a Zuffa Boxing promotion. However, it appears he's lost interest in this venture.

Money

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor World Press Tour
Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor World Press Tour

Some say it makes the world go round and it’s another major reason Dana White would never cross-promote with Bellator: Money.

Let’s cut right to the chase, the UFC doesn’t want to cross-promote with anyone because it doesn’t need to. All you need to do is look at its current financial partnerships.

The ESPN broadcast contract is a multi-billion dollar deal that runs through to 2025. They also have a new Venum apparel deal which, while not as lucrative as the previous Reebok deal, is still worth millions to the UFC.

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Add major sponsors such as Monster Energy and Toyo Tyres and you can see why Dana White is not answering Scott Coker’s calls anytime soon.

ESPN is the official broadcast partner of the UFC
ESPN is the official broadcast partner of the UFC

Dana White has made sure the UFC is MMA

UFC 214: Cormier vs Jones 2
UFC 214: Cormier vs Jones 2

Another reason Dana White would never agree to cross-promote with Bellator is that the UFC is MMA. Many casual MMA fans literally think the sport is called UFC.

So why would the UFC introduce another name and promotion to their fanbase, many of whom don’t know other MMA promotions exist?

The UFC is the number one MMA promotion, it’s the place where all fighters aspire to compete as its widely recognized as having the greatest fighters in the world.

Dana White doesn’t need to match his fighters against Bellator’s best, he can simply wait for their rivals’ champion fighters’ contracts to run out and sign them to the UFC.

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Past failures

Pride Grand Prix 2005 - Final Round - Match - August 28, 2005
Pride Grand Prix 2005 - Final Round - Match - August 28, 2005

After the Fertita brothers and Dana White (Zuffa) bought the UFC they did allow Chuck Liddell to fight in Pride FC. In 2003, UFC president Dana White entered Chuck Liddell into Pride’s 2003 middleweight Grand Prix tournament, with hopes of winning the larger battle for MMA supremacy.

Liddell was knocked out by Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in the semifinals of the tournament ruining White’s plans. The episode left a bad taste in the UFC president’s mouth and added to his reluctance to ever cross-promote with another MMA company again.

There was also the Fedor Emelianenko saga. Fedor was the UFC’s ‘white whale’ that they could never sign. Dana White has told the story of how they offered Fedor millions to fight Brock Lesnar at Cowboy Stadium back in 2009.

Sadly, the two sides could never reach an agreement. One of the major sticking points was Fedor’s management company M-1 Global wanting to co-promote his UFC fights. Dana White was never going to agree to such a thing and the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time never stepped foot inside the octagon.

Published 08 Apr 2021, 15:38 IST
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