UFC’s Dana White Shares His Success Story with Students

Dana White at CSN with students

Dana White at CSN with students

By Alina King

Dana White, president of the multi-billion sports organization Ultimate Fighting Championship spoke at the College of Southern Nevada’s Elite Business Series on March 25.

During his presentation, White discussed overcoming personal obstacles on the way to achieving success.

“I did not grow up with money,” White said. “I was broke but I always knew what I wanted to do. I never took no for an answer.”

The audience full of CSN students and faculty members listened intently as White shared his story with bursting energy and humor. White explained how he was able to turn a then failing business into what is now a company worth over $3 billion.

Although never a college student himself, a young White explored his dream of making a successful business out of his passion for martial arts. After managing mixed-martial-arts fighters Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, he convinced his childhood friend Lorenzo Fertitta, now CEO of UFC, to invest in the company.

“We paid $2 million for the three letters,” White said.

Attendee and CSN English instructor Jona-Lee Luna found White to be a successful businessman who follows his heart. “UFC is our modern day gladiator competition in its rawest form,” Luna added.

Most recently the UFC has drawn in a new demographic: women. Female fighters now compete against each other in the octagon ring. White initially disliked this idea; however, after a consultation with UFC commentator Joe Rogan he changed his mind. The decision was an instant success.

One of the organization’s prominent female competitors Ronda Rousey called “Rowdy”, former Olympian, generated additional interest among women. She is ranked No. 1 at 135 pounds according to the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings and as of Jan. 27, 2014, she is the No. 9 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, according to her website.

“Just like Mr. White said…women like to see other women succeed,” said attendee Clarissa Cota, chairman of the department of business administration at CSN.

White’s enthusiasm and passion during the presentation inspired attendees to participate in the discussion by asking questions.

One audience member asked White if UFC would ever go public. He answered, “No! Thirteen years nobody believed in this business and now when it is successful we will never go public.”

Another audience member asked a question about the future of UFC.

White said the organization is expanding to include Mexico underneath its umbrella. He also added that a new reality show called “The Ultimate Fighter” will feature women. It releases in September.

White was scheduled to speak for 45 minutes. However, he spent over two hours answering questions and allowing students to take photos with him.

“Students got to hear from a real-world business leader on what it takes to succeed out there,” said Richard Lake, senior specialist of public affairs at CSN. “Mr. White followed his dream, worked very hard and ended up changing an entire industry.”

As White recollected the UFC’s journey from an almost defeated industry to an international sensation, he shared with his audience what remains as the true heart of the company: the fight to survive.

“Fighting is in our DNA,” White said. “It is the first sport and the last.”

Dana White with Alina King

Dana White with Alina King

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