Dana White has helped grow the UFC brand from a small-time operation into one of the most-watched sports organizations in the world, and a multibillion-dollar enterprise ($7 billion, by his count). Along the way, he’s amassed a fortune of $500 million.
The current President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship leads the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world. He’s done enormous things for the company, of course, although it hasn’t all been smiles and rainbows. He’s made his fair share of enemies along the way, being the shrewd businessman that he is.
But the fact remains that UFC wouldn’t be the same without him. Some people are calling him the company’s biggest liability these days, but he would argue against that, and for good reason.
Here are 9 fighters Dana White gets along with, and 8 he doesn’t.
Dana White is a big fan of Conor McGregor, and why wouldn’t he be? The Irish superstar is great for ratings, and he helped make UFC more popular than its ever been. Whether its in the octagon or out of it, McGregor knows how to light up a crowd, and he’s not afraid of controversy.
Also, when Dana was creating his “ultimate fighter,” he said the fighter should have the fight IQ of McGregor, because he’s “very, very smart when it comes to fighting—he’s very good at breaking down his opponents.”
Tito Ortiz and Dana White were once close friends—Dana even managed Tito in his early UFC days. This relationship led to the Fertitta brothers buying UFC from SEG in 2001, and making White (a childhood friend) the leader.
Soon after, the relationship turned sour over money. Towards the end of Tito’s contract, he wore a t-shirt that stated: “DANA IS MY B***H” at weigh-ins for his final fight. They mended the relationship, but who knows how long that’ll last?
Back in 2018, Dana White said he wouldn’t let Chuck Liddell fight against Tito Ortiz for a third time because “I love him.” If that’s not a hint that Dana respects the fighter, then what is? Chuck was around when UFC was first getting popular, and he was arguably the first superstar UFC fighter.
Even though he was eventually let go from the company (once he “lost his chin”), he remains one of Dana’s favorite fighters, with the president saying if he could create an ultimate fighter, he’d give the fighter the fists of Chuck Liddell.
Although he’s become a movie star in his own right, Randy Couture and Dana White have a beef that is well documented. Back in 2002, their relationship got off on the wrong foot when Couture refused to be included in UFC’s earliest video game. He won four titles between then and 2007, and was the most popular fighter around.
Dana has accused Couture of lying to him on numerous occasions, and Couture hit the UFC with a lawsuit. The relationship is apparently healed, but that could just be in the public eye.
Jon Jones is one of the most decorated and dominant UFC fighters in history, but he has one blemish on his record from a disqualification loss against Matt Hughes in 2009. Dana White is trying to get that loss overturned since it was the only loss on Jones’ entire record.
As Dana said, “The guy’s never lost a fight ever… It was the weakest commission ever in the history of Nevada and that referee shouldn’t have even been in there.” Dana also said he would give his “ultimate fighter” Jones’ chin, because “he was never rocked or fazed by anyone’s punch, kick, knee, or anything.”
Mark Hunt is one of the most tenured fighters at Heavyweight, but he has a grudge against Dana that started in 2016. He’s currently embroidered in a lawsuit against the UFC, though he still remains on their roster.
He’s accused Zuffa (but mainly Dana) of fight-fixing, racketeering, and ignoring doping from other fighters—basically a litany of accusations that Dana surely doesn’t like too much.
Dana White once said of Robbie Lawler in 2016, “He’s our Evander Holyfield.” Pretty high praise from the president of the company Lawler fought for.
Dana helped raise and groom him and actually brought him into the UFC himself because he saw something special in the kid. In 2013, he said that Lawler was a “completely different animal” than when he was younger, and he calls the moment he signed Lawler in 2002 a “Christmas present for myself” (via Bleacher Report).
Demetrious Johnson is the reigning Flyweight Champion (116 to 125 lbs) after first gaining the belt in 2012 against Joseph Benavidez. He’s since defended his title 11 times (a record) and has reigned as champ for 2,142 days. His beef with Dana arose when Dana wanted Demetrious to fight Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in a so-called “superfight,” after Demetrious had successfully defended his title 10 times.
In a social media rant, Johnson claimed that Dana tried to lowball his pay, and threatened to dissolve the Flyweight division if he wouldn’t fight Dillashaw.
In 2011, Dana White called Frankie Edgar the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, right under Anderson Silva (who hadn’t lost in the UFC at the time). He also said Frankie is “the best boxer in the UFC.” High praise from the president.
Recently, they’ve had a bit of a tiff after Dana insinuated that Edgar refused a fight with Conor McGregor, but he’s still one of Dana’s favorite fighters. Dana’s “ultimate fighter” would have the heart of Frankie Edgar, who's “been around for a long time and never, ever has he fought in his own weight class.”
The bitterness between Frank Shamrock—one of UFC’s most accomplished champions—and Dana White, is the stuff of legends. He worked as a commentator when Dana took over the company in 2001, and quickly fell out with the president (for foggy reasons).
Since then, he’s done everything in his power to harm the UFC, and constantly badmouths Dana in every interview, sometimes even issuing veiled threats. Even as decorated as he is (four championship title defenses), he’s largely been erased from UFC history.
After Michael Bisping retired from mixed martial arts in 2018, Dana White heaped praise upon him like no other.
“The Count” had a storied career, and Dana even said over Twitter, “It’s been fun my friend. I’m excited to see what’s next for you!!!” For his fantasy “ultimate fighter,” Dana White said he’d pick the “mouth” of Bisping, saying, “He talks so much trash. He’s very smart, funny, calculated in the things that he says.”
Although it was all smiles, publicly, when Ben Askren was traded to UFC for Demetrious Johnson moving to ONE Championship, don’t let that fool you. Dana once called Askren “the most boring fighter in MMA history.”
In 2017, Askren said about fighting with ONE, “For me, the biggest benefit is not having to work for Dana White. The guy’s a freaking scumbag.” So, it’s safe to say that there’s a bit of bad blood between the two.
Dana White absolutely loves Matt Hughes. His favorite fight of all time was when Matt Hughes rematched Frank Trigg (after already beating him) and had an insane come-from-behind victory after nearly being choked out.
Dana also got teary-eyed when the documentary of Hughes was unveiled. He’s a legend of the sport. It’s clear that he respects the heck out of the UFC Hall-of-Famer.
Dana White has called Cris Cybord a “nightmare” to work with, and when she left the company, he said, basically, “have a nice life.” He’s blasted a video of hers, calling it “doctored” and “one of the dirtiest things you can do.”
Cyborg has accused White of saying offensive things about her that were caught on camera, and Ronda Rousey has called her an “it.” So she’s had a rough go of it, despite being one of the most dominant women in the sport.
Last month, Canadian Georges St-Pierre wanted to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Dana White didn’t allow it. Here was his explanation, “First of all, who doesn’t love Georges St-Pierre? Love Georges St-Pierre, the best ever as far as human beings, great guy, love him.”
St-Pierre and White had a deal that if Georges won against Michael Bisping at 185 lbs, which he did, he would have to defend the title. Georges bailed on that, which rubbed Dana the wrong way, which is why he won’t give GSP the fight he wants, but the two still remain friends.
Brendan Schaub and Dana White have a rough relationship that is sort of centered around Ronda Rousey.
Schaub called Dana his “Eskimo brother,” making claims that he shouldn’t have, and Dana White blasted Schaub on social media about MMA, saying, “Such a tool! What does this idiot know about the sport or the business? Guy went 6-5 in the UFC! As soon as Rogan stops carrying him he will disappear.” Ouch.
Dana White has always loved Ronda Rousey, and maybe even been IN love with her. When she first made her legendary start and undefeated run, the two were basically inseparable.
Dana was her biggest backer, which is nice, and he even showed up to her WrestleMania 34 debut just to show his support. Ronda has said of him, “Dana White is always going to be one of my best friends, I love him so much.”
References: bleacherreport.com, sportskeeda.com, bbc.co.uk, balls.ie