Although he owns less than 10% of the UFC, Dana White is its public face and chief decision-maker. He recently cut his Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem because he wouldn't take a fight on short notice.
Dana even cancelled Fedor's remaining fight contract after his loss to Henderson on July 30 in Chicago. White added that Fedor was "overrated."
What would make a man fire some of the biggest names in the MMA heavyweight class?
Fedor and Overeem are represented by aggressive promotion companies that want to step between the fighters and the UFC.
That is the only reason they were cut as soon as White had a loophole to do it with.
Middle men drive up the cost for the UFC to do business with fighters. White hates them like Tea Partiers hate Unions.
White cut them. He didn't ban them. Picture your mom letting you have ice cream if "you ask nicely."
Overeem and Fedor could fight in the UFC anytime they wanted to. If they chose to play by White's rules.
Like him or loathe him, Dana White has business acumen. And the owners of the UFC have watched him make them some serious money.
True, nowadays selling an 18-to-34-year-old a UFC pay-per-view is like selling candy to babies with money. So it can be hard to appreciate what White and Co. have accomplished.
In the late 1990s when the original UFC and other like-minded MMA outfits were rendered illegal by the U.S. government, it seemed MMA was doomed.
Spearheaded by Dana, the Fertitta brothers lobbied successfully to have MMA regulated and made legal again.
Then they pumped blood, sweat and serious cash into several UFC events...and almost went bankrupt within two years.
Eventually, the tide turned and the repackaged UFC took off and continues to soar.
Dana provided a lion's share of the effort—not the cash—and deserves a lion's share of the credit.
A man who has erected a profitable cage-fighting empire wants to get paid.
And it would be mighty easy for White to think of where modern stars today would be today if it wasn't for he and the Fertitta brothers' moxy in the late 1990s.
Working construction? Personal trainers?
But certainly not millionaires.
The UFC ownership nearly lost millions back in the shaky start-up days. Now they are making themselves and elite UFC fighters millions. And suddenly management companies are wanting to step between Dana and his hired fighters.
That is White's beef with Fedor and Overeem. Nothing else.
Management outfits will make things complicated for the architects of modern MMA.
And these architects currently have the power to nip this in the bud.
Now that the UFC has swallowed Strikeforce, if Fedor wants to fight he no longer has a non-UFC promotion to hand him a fat paycheck.
Dana White and the Fertitta brothers essentially own professional MMA. And they want to streamline the business.
One cage. One company. Two fighters. One adoring fan base. Lots of cash.
It is good business sense on the UFC's part. And we are watching them simply bide their time before they digest and dissolve Strikeforce the way they did Pride. And with the same "cat toying with a mouse" ease as Anderson Silva's opening 60 seconds of any fight.
As White pointed out, any fighter paid by the UFC can turn around and pay their managers all he wants, but the UFC is only cutting cheques with fighters' names on them.
White is a crass man who cusses as frequently as Richard Pryor and shoots painfully straight. For this, many will loathe White more than they probably already do. But if you own a share of the UFC machine, you keep White right where he is. Making the UFC more profitable.
White cut Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko to send a message to the world of professional MMA fighters:
You want to make it in this business?
Under the insect-like eyes and legs of the giant UFC monster.
White is a soulless business man.
I wouldn't want to be his employee or even his friend. But I'd sure like him running my business.
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