Photo: Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC [Getty Images]
Foresight has taken Dana White to unimaginable heights. The Manchester, Connecticut, native in 2000 convinced longtime friends Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta to take a $2 million gamble on the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a floundering mixed martial arts promotion that had been shunned by much of mainstream society and targeted by haughty politicians.
In the 18-plus years since, the UFC has turned around its fortunes, become a global powerhouse and made White — he was installed as president when the Fertittas purchased the company from Semaphore Entertainment Group — one of the most influential people in professional sports. The Fertittas cashed in on their investment in July 2016, when they sold the UFC to William Morris Endeavor and International Management Group (WME-IMG) for a staggering $4 billion. Yes, billion with a “B.”
Even as the Fertittas took their bow off the mixed martial arts stage, White remained as president and maintained his position as the face of the most prestigious mixed martial arts organization in the world. Here are five things you need to know about the UFC president:
1. He entered the world during at an historic time in America.
White was born to June and Dana White Sr. on July 28, 1969, a week after Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon and less than three weeks before the Woodstock Music & Art Fair opened in Bethel, New York.
2. He gives back.
White graduated from Hermon High School in Hermon, Maine, a small town of less than 6,000 people. In 2011, he donated $100,000 to the school for upgrades to its athletic facilities.
3. Politics do not scare him.
Never one to shy away from controversy, White spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where he endorsed Donald Trump, calling him a “fighter” and “loyal and supportive friend.” Trump, of course, secured the Republican nomination, went on to defeat Hillary in the general election and became the 45th president of the United States.
4. Staying power has become a calling card.
Among all top pro sports executives in America, White ranks third in terms of seniority. Only NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (1993) and MLS Commissioner Dan Garber (1999) have held their positions longer. White ranks ahead of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (2006), NASCAR Commissioner John Middlebrook (2010), NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (2014), MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred (2015), USTA President Katrina Adams (2015) and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monohan (2017).
5. He suffers from an incurable neurological disorder.
White has been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a neurological disorder for which there is no cure. The disease affects the inner ear and results in vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss. Others who have suffered from the disorder include American astronaut Alan Shepard, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski and actress Kristen Chenoweth.