Dana White said the UFC is thriving during the global COVID-19 pandemic despite the fact the company expects to miss out on $110-115 million on live gate revenue from tickets sales.
“In every other area other than gate the business is growing,” the UFC president said in an appearance on Sportsnet FAN 590’s Good Show. “We haven’t laid off one employee, we haven’t cut anybody’s salary, we haven’t asked any fighters to take pay cuts. We haven’t done any of that kind of stuff. From Day 1 we just kept on rolling.”
White has become accustomed to rolling with the punches, so to speak, while dealing with athletic commissions and various last-second hiccups or unforeseen obstacles in his 20 years running the UFC.
“The only thing I hadn’t been through yet was a pandemic, but I knew that we could do it. It’s what we do.”
The UFC was one of the first sports organizations to hold an empty-venue event when they did so back in March in Brazil at a time when everything else was beginning to shut down.
“I wanted to keep going. We got a lot of political heat and obviously got a ton of heat from the media. I knew that we could do it. I knew that we could do it safely,” White said. “I was willing to spend whatever it would take to make it happen and we did. We figured it out and the business is on fire right now.”
The UFC went nearly two full months without holding an event, during which time the company implemented new health and safety protocols, plus robust COVID testing. It secured a venue in Florida and modified its UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas while also creating Fight Island and holding four events in Abu Dhabi.
Since returning on May 9, the UFC has held 14 events, including three pay-per-view cards with UFC 251 reportedly generating more than one million buys.
White added the UFC has even won an Emmy during the pandemic. UFC Fight Pass won Outstanding Edited Sports Event at the 41st Sports Emmy Awards for a UFC Fight Flashback: Khabib vs. McGregor special.
“Life is good at the UFC,” said White, who later added that he doesn’t think there will be fans at events anytime soon but, “as soon as it’s a reality you better believe I’ll be the first guy jumping all over it.”