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Fact Checking Dana White

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UFC president Dana White never met an opportunity to slam his rivals that he didn’t like and the UFC 82 post-fight presser was no exception to that rule.

With just one question, White managed to rip not one, but three of his chief competitors.

“On the CBS thing, was it more creative control over the product or was it more them wanting to buy into the company that saw things end the way they did,” Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! asked White.

From there, White not only ripped EliteXC, which announced a deal last week to televise four fight cards in primetime on CBS, but also the IFL and Mark Cuban’s HDNet Fights.

“Like I said, I told somebody the other day, we’re not gonna to cut a stupid deal,” White began to respond. “It’s not gonna happen. Whether it’s CBS, HBO, NBC, whoever. Everybody thinks that the mixed martial arts market is so hot right now. The UFC is hot right now.”

So far, nothing all that bad. But White was just warming up.

“The IFL was gonna take us out last year and they’re offering stock options and other stuff to all of the fighters,” White continued. “Some guys we had long-term relationships with left and went there. A year later it’s gone.

“… Now the big scary guy was Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban is coming in. Mark Cuban doesn’t give a [expletive deleted] about mixed martial arts. Mark Cuban has dumped millions of dollars into HDNet and he wants subscribers. He’s a businessman. He’ll build up the subscribers and sell it to Comcast and get out. I think he’s passionate about basketball (but) I don’t think he’s interested in mixed martial arts and he’ll be onto the next business venture.

“Now CBS is getting involved. CBS bought ProElite, which was going out of business and about to fail. And they bought them and now they’re going to give them a shot.

It’s been like this for eight years. Eight years there’s been a new three letters popping up and they buy a cage and they’re in the business. We love this shit. This is what we do for a living. We love it. We do it 24-7 and nobody is going to beat us at it.”

White’s entitled to express his opinion, after all it is his press conference. But opinions are one thing and facts are another. And there are some blatant errors regarding some of White’s statements.

Perhaps the incorrect statements were no big deal. However, isn’t White being a little hypocritical?

The UFC was extremely unhappy when Randy Couture held a press conference last year to address his estranged relationship with the promotion. During the course of the press conference, he misrepresented facts pertaining to a signing bonus that had been paid to him by the UFC. The promotion was so distraught by Couture’s claims and comments that they felt the need to include their complaint as a part of a injunction they filed against him over issues with his involvement with other fight promotions.

White was incorrect when he stated that the IFL was “gone.” In fact, the promotion had just held a card in Las Vegas the day prior to UFC 82 and has shows scheduled for April and June. Also, CBS did not acquire ProElite. They bought a significant amount of stock (according to an SEC filing on February 26) in the company but not enough to qualify it as an owner.

The UFC felt the need to seek relief from the court against Couture because they felt his statements were harmful to their business. Well, how is erreonsly going out and saying a company is out of business when it isn’t not harmful to that company’s business?

Some of White’s other statements are also highly debatable. While it’s obvious in ProElite’s SEC filings that the company has lost millions since its inception, there is no evidence to my knowledge that makes it clear they were “going out of business.”

In regards to his statements about Cuban, claiming that the Dallas Mavericks owner only wants to use MMA to increase his subscriber base and sell it is quite an accusation to make without any sort of evidence to support his claim. Until his last sentence about Cuban, he didn’t quantify his words as being his thoughts. He tried to pass it off as fact, which isn’t a problem if it’s true. But how do we know what he said about Cuban’s intentions is even remotely close to the truth?

“HDNet has really only been focused on MMA for a few months. It’s nice to know that in that short period of time he has paid enough attention to us to know what I’m going to do,” HDNet Fights owner Mark Cuban responded when contacted by FiveOuncesOfPain.com (www.FiveOuncesOfPain.com) via e-mail for comment.

There’s another layer to all of this that goes beyond fact or fiction — and that’s right vs. wrong. From a business perspective, is it smart for White to continue to indirectly promote his competition? A great deal of the reporters he speaks to rarely challenge his statements because they are relative neophytes to the sport. They don’t know enough about the sport to ask questions. Just like some of them may not have any idea that the IFL, EliteXC, or HDNet Fights even exist.

I’ve heard many say that White has modeled a lot of his business decisions after WWE owner Vince McMahon. If that’s true then there’s one lesson of McMahon’s that he should really take to heart; which is that McMahon rarely, if ever, spoke about his competition in public. He was careful to make sure he attracted as little attention to them as possible. I can’t help but wonder from a pure business standpoint if White should follow suit.

It looks like I’m not the only one who feels that way.

“My real hope is that he will mention us in every press conference or interview,” said Cuban. “And that all his advertisers , fighters and partners compare how the UFC treats them vs. how HDNet or the Mavs treat them.”

58 COMMENTS
  • Michael says:

    Jeez, i see you’re not a Dana White fan but him saying an orginization is gone is far far far different then Couture and his contract slander…

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  • Paul Hanna says:

    dana white looks kinda like george costanza to me…

    maybe its just me.

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  • joe says:

    great article,great. i heard brock say it 1st, and i thought it many times-DW wants to be vince macmahn!

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Who said I wasn’t a Dana White fan? The sport wouldn’t be where it is today without him. He’s a smart guy who does a lot of things right. But he isn’t perfect.

    What Couture said was wrong because it wasn’t accurate. But if what he did was slander, how is it not slander on White’s part telling a room full of journalists that the IFL is “gone” when it is in fact not? Isn’t that harmful to the IFL just as what Couture said was harmful to the UFC?

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  • Kelvin says:

    Sam,

    Nice job on the article…however, White’s intelligent and I think he got his point across…from the quote’s you used…they are all opinion based…

    Yes, the IFL is not gone…but truth be told nobody is really checking for the IFL like that…ProElite was losing millions and without that CBS deal they probably would be done soon IMO….and with Cuban being a businessman…what Dana said is plausible…did Cuban say he was gonna do that? No…but it is a plausible assumption on White’s part IMHO.

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  • Derek B. says:

    Dana isn’t the most professional business man out there. But you have to understand that he isn’t the only person making decisions for the UFC.

    To be honest I could care less about Dana White. I just want to see the fights. I think the drama needs to end and they should focus their energy on the fighters.

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  • cyphron says:

    IFL is “gone” from MyNetworkTV. It’s now on HDNET which has a much smaller subscriber base. In that aspect, Dana is right.

    Having said that, I still think Dana needs to STFU.

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  • Evan says:

    One thing to say in defense of Dana… it’s amusing how so many sites, blogs and posters on various forums have a heart attack every time a new org starts up saying it’s going to take over the UFC.

    And just how many have sprung up, failed and been absorbed since TUF 1?

    As Chuck stated in his book…part of Dana’s job is to be a carnival barker.

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  • Tommy says:

    They can’t sue Dana over his opinion, which is all his statements boil down to in court. While Randy misquoted facts that are on paper and can be proven.

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  • brutus says:

    Great article, very factual. I am not from the states but falsely claiming that a rivalling company is out of business sounds like lawsuit material to me.

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  • Donk says:

    Why dosn’t Dana like making friends? Does he just want to be a loner in the Western MMA world?

    This just hurts us as fans. There so many great fights out there, the UFC should be trying their best to make them happen. But is this going to happen by:
    a. Reaching out to fighters and other promoter and making strong ties.
    b. Slagging fighters and promoters off and trying their hardest to run them out of business.

    Well it sure looks like he is aiming at the latter. So if Dana’s dream comes true what then? If all the fighters land in the UFC you have like 400+ guys trying to earn a living. A promoter would have to put a card on every week or two in order for that to happen. This option can only hurt the fans and the fighters.

    I think Dana dosn’t come off as a strong leader here. I think he comes off as weak and a bit of a coward. It would take guts, courage and vision to try and make the ties that the sport needs. He just dosn’t seem to have the balls for this, or the head for that matter…

    Just my two cents.

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  • Brandt says:

    Good stuff Sam. Nicely done with the McMahon reference as well. How much is WWE worth now? White just doesn’t know how to stop talking like a trashy fighter and it’ll come back around to him soon. I’m way more inclined to support the smaller orgs like HDNet and the IFL because they are so humble next to White.

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  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Cuban would never sue, because he’d be obliged to prove that White’s statement–he’s using MMA to pump up his numbers to increase HDnet’s value so he can sell it–is false. That means he’d be asked under oath whether he is or might plan to sell HDnet. Furthermore, do you really think he wants UFC’s lawyers rummaging around in his financials and business plans?

    As far as ProElite is concerned, if it’s losing millions of dollars, it’s going out of business. The only question is when. And if CBS buys a chunk of IFL stock, even if it’s not a majority of the shares, they can still control its destiny because they control broadcasting and investment and can heavily influence who sits on the board of directors.

    I find it ironic that this piece complains about White’s hyperbole and then compares him to Vince McMahon. It’s a bit like hearing a streetwalker complain about women of easy virtue.

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  • Buddha says:

    Agreed w/Kelvin.

    Also Sam is that a bit of Pro Elite bias showing through in your work? I agree with whoever said you disdain for DW comes through in this piece, if its not true it sure seems that way.

    “I’m way more inclined to support the smaller orgs like HDNet and the IFL because they are so humble next to White.”

    Those organizations have to act humble, they can’t come out acting like one of the big boys when they are worth half as much and have about half the talent on their roster.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Buddha, what do you feel that I said was biased? That I believe he made inaccurate statements?

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  • Matt C. says:

    ““It’s not gonna happen. Whether it’s CBS, HBO, NBC, whoever. Everybody thinks that the mixed martial arts market is so hot right now. The UFC is hot right now.”

    That is an insult to nearly every fan, fighter and trainer in MMA right now. He’s basically saying that nobody else matters except those involved with UFC… Hey you local fighters trying to break it big, you owe everythign to Dana White. Hey all you fans watching anything other than UFC, you’re stupid for wasting your time. Hey all of you that don’t think Anderson Silva is the best fighter the planet has ever seen, get a clue.

    C’mon Dana, you cannot really believe the crap that pours from your face.

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  • Michael says:

    Gone could mean a few more things than them being out of business. It could be gone from network tv or vegas or anyhing…its pretty vauge.

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  • Evan says:

    IFL trading at .09

    http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=ifli.ob

    Pretty close to gone but still hanging in there. If their current show was what they started season 2 with they would be in fine shape. The “Someone goes out in a stretcher” was as bad as it get’s.

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  • Rln says:

    I’m surprised we don’t get of of these hard hitting exposé after each EliteXC press conference talking about all the stupid shit Gary Shaw says. Why is that Sam Caplan?

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  • Kelvin says:

    “““It’s not gonna happen. Whether it’s CBS, HBO, NBC, whoever. Everybody thinks that the mixed martial arts market is so hot right now. The UFC is hot right now.””

    But in all honesty….that statement is true…LOL.

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  • Zack says:

    I think you guys are off-base about Sam on this.

    Even though I pretty much agree with everything Dana said in the press conference, it’s all unnecessary, unprofessional, and counterproductive. He’d be better off keeping his mouth shut, but he clearly loves the spotlight and likes foaming at the mouth.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    “I’m surprised we don’t get of of these hard hitting exposé after each EliteXC press conference talking about all the stupid shit Gary Shaw says. Why is that Sam Caplan?”

    I’ve been critical of Shaw on many occasions but you neglected to point that out. Why is that RLN?

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  • Rln says:

    “I’ve been critical of Shaw on many occasions but you neglected to point that out. Why is that RLN?”

    I never pointed out these articles because I’ve never seen you do a similar article that has been critical of Shaw. Please provide me some links so I have something to reference. I’m sure there are plenty to be found on this blog and I have just glanced over them.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    RLN, you can go back through the archives and or search through our categories. It’s all there.

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  • Rln says:

    “It’s all there.”

    I did a search and can’t find one similar article on this blog. Just provide a link to make it easier for me. Thanks.

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  • Echolocating says:

    Dana White loves to trash talk. I don’t understand what the big deal is. Are we going to be taking a fighter’s trash talking claim that he’ll kill his opponent as a real death threat and a reason to go to court? Of course not. Dana’s not the most likable person, but I think this article tries too hard to hate Dana.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    If you go back through the EliteXC category on the pull down, you can read everything that I’ve written about their shows. It’s there if you look.

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  • Rln says:

    Come on dude. I already said I did a search and couldn’t find anything. Just provide me a link to a similar article.

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  • Tommy says:

    By the way Sam, I really didn’t like the way Dana decided to disperse the bonuses this ppv. I still think it’s the best way to motivate fighters but maybe it can be regulated somehow.

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  • C.C. says:

    “gone” about the IFL isn’t technically accurate. But it’s less of a mouthful than “losing millions of dollars, couldn’t draw flies to a giant pile of feces, got booted off network TV for low ratings, saw its stock drop from $17 to roughly four rubles, and even the hardest of hardcores who watch everything else don’t even follow the IFL.”

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  • Evan says:

    “and even the hardest of hardcores who watch everything else don’t even follow the IFL.”

    I watched it on Friday! :)

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  • Matt C. says:

    I watched it too. But DVR helped me get through the fights very quickly. Team Quest owned that show. Without Big Country Nelson, Lion’s Den would have laid an egg. Shamrock may train fighters, but not winning fighters.

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  • brutus says:

    Rln Sam has been really objective and sometimes critical of EliteXC and its ownership in the past. Shaw isnt the classiest guy but Dana has built up these sentiments for a long time. I for one applaud the few mma media representatives that calls him out on his blatant spins.

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  • Evan says:

    “I for one applaud the few mma media representatives that calls him out on his blatant spins.”

    On Dana? He is trashed on every site out there.

    And besides…you do realize you’re accusing the president of a company for pushing his product?!

    I mean wow…how dare he!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Buddha says:

    Sam, you are supposedly a fan of the bubba the love sponge show, when it comes to Dana you need to as the boys would say, “Learn how to work kid.” A fighter slandering a company over money is a heck of a lot different than a fight promoter trying to sell his company as the best there is on the market. The guys is a character thats for sure, but in the end he is entitled to his opinions, it isn’t like hes putting out false figures on what the company’s are making or anything.

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  • brutus says:

    Evan: Sure the underground blogs and forums rip Dana all the time but rarely in this factual manner. I dont care as much about him spewing his negativity about the other orgs as when it is directed at fighters.

    More importantly though, since when did commercialism become the holy creed? Just as he has the right to say those things about his competition do I and every other ‘fan’ have the right to resent him for it.

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  • Ian says:

    “On Dana? He is trashed on every site out there.”

    Honestly. Why do you think this is? Do you just think the entire world woke up one day and just decided to hate on Dana?

    “And besides…you do realize you’re accusing the president of a company for pushing his product?!

    I mean wow…how dare he!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Nice try.

    This strawman is presented anytime anyone dare critique Dana White.

    Nobody would fault Dana for pushing the UFC. That’s his job. What he gets criticized for is his constant negative rhetoric for anyone who has the temerity to sign with another organization other than the UFC.

    He’s also the most disingenuous person in all of sports. I’m not sure who he’s trying to kid by calling Fedor a farce. Maybe people with a TUF season 2 marathon’s worth of MMA knowledge, I don’t know, but come on. Just because he laid out a ridiculous contract that Fedor scoffed at doesn’t suddenly make him less of a fighter than before you tried to sign him.

    He also recently said, and I paraphrasing, “I guess Randy Couture is gay.” on some radio station.

    Yes, great business acumen. Here’s a clue, in order to ultimately succeed in business, it’s probably not a good idea to mention your competitor at every turn, and to call your heavy-weight champion, who you are currently trying to litigate into retirement, gay.

    Dana White deserves credit for marrying reality television and mma, but he also deserves appropriate loathing for the way he handles himself in interviews and his incessant need to bad-mouth everyone that doesn’t buy into his constant spew of idiotic hyperbole and rhetoric.

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  • Donk says:

    Ian, “Dana White deserves credit for marrying reality television and mma”.

    Wasn’t that Spike Tv’s idea. I thought Dana was completely against it, but the company was gonna flop and it was there last hope…

    I hate nit picking but i think it’s an important point…

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  • Ian says:

    You could very well be right. I honestly don’t know the particulars and always thought it was Dana’s brainchild. That would mean that even I’ve been giving him too much credit.

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  • Vittorio says:

    what a surprise, a UFC critic who’s being paid by EliteXC. Dana White is entitled to says what the hell he wants to say about his company, especially since Zuffa is a privately owned company, I agreed with Rln, this site will bash UFC any chance they got. Why don’t your write something critical or about the next EliteXC PPV Sam? rate them on their production values and match quality. What about giving us your thoughts on Kimbo last two fights against 1 bum and 1 has been.

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  • C.C. says:

    “He’s also the most disingenuous person in all of sports. ”

    Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Don King, etc. etc. etc.

    You’re not even close.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    “I agreed with Rln, this site will bash UFC any chance they got.”

    That’s such a ridiculous statement. This sites says positive and negative things abou the UFC just as it does with all promotions.

    “Why don’t your write something critical or about the next EliteXC PPV Sam? rate them on their production values and match quality.”

    FROFL!!! Do you not read this site? First, EliteXC doesn’t do PPVs with the exception of the Shamrock vs. Baroni show. But I’ve critiqued all of the SHOWTIME shows with the exception of the Miami show, because I was at the show and have not seen it on TV.

    You should familiarize yourself with this site and the content that appears on the site before you make foolish statements about it.

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  • Buddha says:

    Another thing, when you speak of Vince McMahon not recognizing his competitors what about the bit when Degeneration X went to a taping of Nitro and were outside yelling stuff on megaphones and driving around on if I recall correctly some sort of Military vehicle. If thats not recognizing and giving a competitor some press I do not know what is.

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  • Jiu-Jitsu Guy says:

    As stated by several people on here, I think White needs to STFU and make this about the fighters, not him. For the first time during the last UFC I told myself that I was sick of seeing him.

    This is about martial arts, not him. He is dumb to assume UFC will rule forever. There are countless examples in sports where someone has come in and eventually taken over. He also did not start the UFC, so he does not get as much respect as most given that he did not come up with the idea.

    By the way, I found it revolting how the ref demanded a couple fighters to do something when they were obviously working to get a better position on the ground. Way too much emphasis on stand up if you ask me. Thankfully, Silva did a great job and pulled of a sick rear naked choke to defeat Henderson.

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  • Evan says:

    Donk “Wasn’t that Spike Tv’s idea.”

    No. UFC gave Spike TUF 1 for free to get it on TV.

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  • theickysticky says:

    Jiu-Jitsu Guy,

    I totally agree! I am sick of Dana White always slandering everyone. Like someone else said….”who cares about Dana….just put on some good fights!” If Dana was smart he would STFU and just put together the best fights that can be made and let the fans be the judge.

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  • matt c says:

    “Dana White deserves credit for marrying reality television and mma, but he also deserves appropriate loathing for the way he handles himself in interviews and his incessant need to bad-mouth everyone that doesn’t buy into his constant spew of idiotic hyperbole and rhetoric.”

    Well stated Ian!!

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  • Rln says:

    “No. UFC gave Spike TUF 1 for free to get it on TV.”

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  • Rln says:

    “No. UFC gave Spike TUF 1 for free to get it on TV.”

    The UFC actually paid Spike to air TUF1(and it was quite a bit of money).

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  • Evan says:

    “The UFC actually paid Spike to air TUF1(and it was quite a bit of money).”

    They did not pay Spike. From my understanding they lost 10 million making it but no money exchanged hands.

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  • [...] Sam Caplan: Fact-checking Dana White [...]

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  • glock says:

    Yeah, what ian said….

    Evan
    they lost 10 mil on season 1 ?? i’m surprised. I didn’t think production values looked that high- 2 locations and a van for the most part coulda been shot on prosumer cameras.. What was it 13 episodes? “Reality” shows are cheap programing, that’s why there’s been so many of them, if one doesn’t work there’s plenty more ready to go.

    Dana is a dick, we all know it. There’s way too much smoke for there not to be a fuckin blaze, but he’s basically kicking ass and taking names in MMA so we gotta respect that and enjoy what’s available to us because of him.

    UFC is about the UFC don’t kid yourself ; they love fighters like Mcdonalds loves cows.
    What they are is a few guys that love the sport and are determined to make money promoting it – fighters and egos are a necessary evil.

    The best thing we all can do is shut the fu@& up about him and ignore him. Don’t keep giving him the free exposure (Instead of mentioning the “UFC” or “DANA” we could say “the 3 stooges”, or “Curly” instead, and nod,nod,wink,wink to each other).

    If everyone stopped mentioning the guy and posting his press releases and just availed ourselves of what UFC puts out there, we’d all be better off.

    … Except of course those of us with sites that need to deliver or drive clicks and eyeballs…

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  • Evan says:

    “they lost 10 mil on season 1 ?? i’m surprised. I didn’t think production values looked that high- 2 locations and a van for the most part coulda been shot on prosumer cameras.. What was it 13 episodes? “Reality” shows are cheap programing, that’s why there’s been so many of them, if one doesn’t work there’s plenty more ready to go.

    They also had to buy that house, pay employees, spend money begging someone to show it, and then those production costs. Chuck in his book said they made the show up as they went so I am sure they wasted a ton of cash as well.

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  • glock says:

    I haven’t read his book so I’m kinda talkin out my ass from a factual standpoint, but having been “in the biznez” i kinda know how they can keep some of the costs you mention WAY down. But as you say, not “knowin where your goin” WILL eat up cash fast and if happy money had to be spent to get it on TV, those weekends in Vegas and Viagra add up….. ; )

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  • Binsu says:

    Well, Sam, you got a decent amount of criticism for this blog, but 50+ comments just means a lot of people are reading and giving a damn about what you write.

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  • Donk says:

    Evan “No. UFC gave Spike TUF 1 for free to get it on TV.”

    I’m no history book but i hear are some sources where Dana stated how he hated the idea of TUF when he first heard about it. http://youtube.com/watch?v=E43z-ywg3KQ&feature=related That’s the best link i can find right now on the topic. Also on fight opinion radio they metion the topic briefly between half way and three quarters through http://www.fightopinion.com/podcasts/foradio-2-11-2008.mp3

    I remember reading somewhere that TUF was originally Spike Tv’s idea and when Dana heard about it he didn’t want to do it, but the Fertitta’s wanted to go through with it. The above interview and Zach’s podcast seem to show Dana wasn’t involved but i can’t find anything on it being Spike Tv’s idea. If anyone can find something or correct me then please do…

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  • Evan says:

    Donk. Read Chuck’s book. Pretty sure he has a good idea what happened when you consider everything…. and it was the Fertitta’s idea.

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  • NealTaflinger says:

    THe UFC lost money for years. They are still in business. Start up companies lose money by design – if you put $1 million into starting a fight promotion, you aren’t going to clear $1 million in profit your first month in business. That’s why it’s “start up costs” and not “start up profits.”

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