Hell, forget about college. I barely finished high school.
He was down in Miami, and I said, You know what? I just found out the UFC is for sale. What do you think? And he said, Thats interesting. A month later we owned it.
It was around 1997 or 1998 that it all turned around for us. We were all boxing guys and I used to think UFC was a joke. I would say, those guys would get their asses kicked by a boxer.
It opened our eyes to a whole new world. It literally changed my life.
They were college educated, they were good guys. There was so much misconception about the sport and the guys that fight.
What would happen if we got out there and really promoted it in the right way and let people know what kind of athletes these are.
If I'm not spending time with my family, then there is nothing I would want to do. No games, no hobbies, no special interests. This company, those fighters, this job, they're my hobby. This is my life. It's my everything.
Weve been at the tipping point for awhile now. We finally got to the point where we couldnt be denied anymore. Weve been kick boxing and wrestlings asses for the last year and a half. Were selling out venues; were breaking records everywhere we go.
Look at how huge we are. I dont need f****** Coke to keep doing what were doing, man.
18-to-34 year old males, theyre here hanging out with me. If Coke wants them, Coke needs to come to us. You know, this [UFC] wasnt bought by smart businessmen.
Its really the last nail in the coffin with the media not giving us the credibility and not looking at us as a real sport. The cover of Sports Illustrated, the talk shows were there. Weve finally arrived.
They stick around for awhile and then they disappear. And its no different now than it was back in 2001. Its exactly the same.
It was pretty cool. If you would have asked me ten years ago if this is where I would have been in ten years, I would have laughed in your face.
A lot of times, kids go to college and take a major because they do what they think theyre supposed to do. I told them I believe 90 percent of America gets up in the morning and drives to a job they hate. That could have happened to me in the hotel industry.
I told them to find what they are passionate about and to go for that regardless of what anyone tells them. They can go to school and major in political science and say they want to be a doctor or a lawyer, but unless theyre passionate about what they do, theyre never really going to be happy or truly successful.
Never. Never, ever, ever, at least not while Im here. Because I don't want to deal with [the hassles].
I don't need a bunch of idiots out in Wall Street who have no idea what they're talking about and don't know anything about this business telling me how to run it.
Three guys bought UFC when it was dead. It was over. The sport was dead and no one cared.
We didnt buy this to make billions of dollars. We saw something in this sport and in the fighters that we thought was incredible.
We didn't buy this to make billions of dollars. We saw something in this sport and in the fighters that we thought was incredible. We thought if we got it to the mainstream people would enjoy it.
That's one of the things when you go to a UFC event live, the energy in the place is crazy. People are there because they're passionate about it.
Boxing is a road map of what not to do. The greedy promoters basically killed the sport by taking it off free TV.
Im 37, Lorenzos 37. We grew up watching these fighters on [free] television. This younger generation didnt. The [boxing] pay-per-viewership is minimal compared to what it could be on a bigger platform.
Who really gives a bleep at the end of the day what the financials are? I want to talk about the next fight. Who does everyone want to see fight, why do we want to see them fight.
We used to go to Tyson fights and go crazy. But if I spend $1,000 for a ringside ticket, $500 for a ringside ticket, I'm gonna show up early. And it was boring. There was nothing going on.
We've got competitive [undercard] fights and we're feeding them video. I used to sit at a fight and wonder what fighters are they talking about on HBO, what matchups. When you come to our fights, we pipe all of that into the arena.
You show up at a [Los Angeles] Lakers game, you'll never meet Kobe Bryant. But when you show up to a UFC event, odds are pretty damn good that you're not only going to meet Liddell, but he's going to sign what you need signed and take a picture with you.
The deal-closers are the live events. If you come to a live event, you leave that place done, you're hooked, you're in. It is the greatest live sporting event you will ever see.
If you take four street corners, and on one they are playing baseball, on another they are playing basketball and on the other, street hockey. On the fourth corner, a fight breaks out. Where does the crowd go? They all go to the fight.
UFC is definitely a younger guy's sport. Our target audience is anywhere from age 17 to 35.
Women isnt one of them. One of the things we have always said, is we know what this is for its for males 18-34. And if women watch, that's just gravy for us thats beautiful.
Our female fan base has grown incredibly. But to go out and market toward women would be very expensive and not make much sense.
I think we have tried to go after those people that are boxing fans. I have not spent a ton of money trying to go after that market but we have definitely advertised toward them, too.
I think there's a lot of room to grow here in the United States. I don't think we've even scratched the surface of how big this will be. We've built this thing so big in the last six years because it's infectious.
If you put two guys in the Octagon and have them fight, that crosses language barriers, ethnic barriers, everything. In the United States, they all want to see the Americans beat the Canadians or the English or whoever else. UFC is a very international brand.
Im pretty happy with the way everything has worked out with UFC. Weve come a long way in a couple of years.
Do you like the fights? That's what it's really all about. I'm a guy who did exactly what he wanted to do. When you do that, the money follows.
Boxing has a lot of problems. It's not just one problem; they have a ton of problems. At the end of the day, it's all about the money.
It was an amazing year for us. We exceeded a lot of the goals that we had set for ourselves. It was an incredible year, but you aint seen nothing yet. Wait 'til you see 2007. We're going to blow everybody's mind again in 2007.
UFC is also safer than boxing because of the tap-out rule. In UFC, a fighter can tap out if hes in a dangerous position or believes hes going to be seriously injured.
Its the most hard-core, full-contact event in the world.
Whats more violent than the NFL? Guys who are 265 pounds and run like track stars running directly into each other. So, too, does White point to horseback riding as a contact sport where anything could happen.
Obviously, that was the platform that got us where we are in the United States. Basically what we were able to do is get this show that wasn't even allowed on pay-per-view a couple of years before on free TV. And, you know, it showed the sport wasn't the evil [human] cockfighting that everybody thought it was.
The fame and all the PR and the movies and the TV shows and the pressure, it gets you man - it eventually catches up with you and kicks you in the nuts. It happens to everybody. The fame and the travel - it all catches up to you some time. You need some close friends next to you to keep you in check.
You'll never hear me talk about money, ever. We're not trying to hide anything. It's just not what we're about.
I'm very tight with all the guys that fight here. And we have a lot of meetings -- we get together with the fighters before they go on pay-per-view. The great thing about this sport is that we really don't have to keep too tight of a leash on these guys on being humble and being good people and being good to the fans because this sport is martial arts-based. All these guys come from martial arts which, as anybody knows, you learn a lot of respect and discipline.
It's a little tough for the traditional martial artists to swallow, because one system doesn't do it. You've got to cross-train in many different systems. Actually, the father of mixed martial arts, if you will, was Bruce Lee. If you look at the way Bruce Lee trained, the way he fought, and many of the things he wrote, he said the perfect style was no style. You take a little something from everything. You take the good things from every different discipline, use what works, and you throw the rest away.
We have decided we are at a level where we can take this thing out on the road. We went to Columbus, Ohio, where you would never think of taking Mike Tyson, even when he was sanctioned to fight. And we broke every record in the state for the highest live gate. No. 1 is the UFC. No. 2 is the Rolling Stones.
Well, I think over the last month you've seen that we're out there acquiring a few different things and obviously, we're very aggressive and have been since we bought the company and I don't plan on slowing down now. I'm looking to acquire all the best fighters in the world and make the biggest, best matches I can make for the next few years.
There's a shift going on in sports right now. More kids are skateboarding these days than are playing baseball. That's a fact. The reason you watch baseball is because you grew up playing it. But if you don't play it, you won't watch it. In 15 years, baseball is gonna be in trouble.
I'm not a huge fan of women fighting. Period. Not to say that I don't acknowledge that there are amazing female athletes out there in every sport. I just think right now we had a hard enough time getting over the stigma of the men.
Anything could happen. Who knows? But it's nothing I'm focusing on right now.
We're talking to everybody, man. We're talking to everybody.