Dana White says UFC business is booming despite COVID


UFC President Dana White remains proud of the company’s work to become the first major sport to resume operations at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

He’s even more excited about what has been accomplished by the MMA promotion in 2021.

“This has been the best year we’ve ever had,” White said in his sprawling second-floor office at the company’s headquarters in southwest Las Vegas. “We are taking all the measures you can imagine. Sponsorship is through the roof. Social media, our pay-per-view numbers, our numbers on TV, arena records. This business is on fire.

According to White, social media subscribers grew 41% year-over-year and YouTube numbers increased 31%. Watching hours on TV and over-the-top platforms, as well as visits to the UFC website and all other numbers have increased to better than expected levels.

The success of the UFC, driven in part by its decision to continue hosting live events at a time when other professional sports were on hold and there was little competition in the market, has been a major driving force. for parent company Endeavor beating third-quarter profit guidance.

“How are you not going to bet on me now?” Said Blanc. “If you look at our 20-year history, we went through the recession from 2008 to 2010. Then we go through a pandemic in 2020 and 2021. I keep looking at all the places we still haven’t been. Then there are so many little details that I could tell you about our business that the room for growth is incredible. There is no cap.

The UFC broke its record for most pay-per-view sales in a year in 2021, and White has said he believes the all-time indoor live-stream record for California will drop when the company hosts the. UFC 270 on January 22 in Anaheim, the first major card of 2022.

Part of the UFC’s ability to thrive despite the global impact of the pandemic was due to the company having built a facility adjacent to its headquarters where it could host weekly live events on a mostly closed soundstage. where she could control the environment. It also meant securing two hotels to house fighters, judges, referees, commission officials, staff and even some media outlets where they could be tested and for the most part quarantined.

The Apex has been a godsend for the UFC, and White said economically it would make sense to continue hosting weekly Fight Night events there as production costs are minimal and then hit the road. only for major pay-per-view shows in states where the restrictions would allow full theaters.

White, however, said he felt it was important to get the show back on the road at some point.

“Doing shows at the Apex is like sitting at home in your underwear making a Zoom call,” he said. “It’s very cozy and comfortable, but that’s not the way to run a business. We built that by going to places like Omaha, Nebraska, and all those cities that don’t fight. We bring these events, and when you experience a live fight, it makes you an even bigger fan. It is something that must be done.

“I know we have to get back on the road, but I’m going to stay here until things get a little bit back to normal.”

White understands that the first question that will always be asked when touting the success of the business is how much is passed on to fighters. He disputes figures that have been made public suggesting tiny portions of the profits will go to athletes, but said more money in the company’s coffers will always mean more to athletes.

“The fighter pay is the reason I don’t usually hit my chest and talk about our performance,” White said. “It’s grown tremendously since 2016. All the champions share the pay-per-view money, and we’re setting records there. Believe me, everyone makes money. We worked during the pandemic and kept all of our employees and the fighters on the job. The remuneration of combatants has continued to increase.

Contact Adam Hill at [email protected] To follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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