COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Something has changed, something only Dana White can see. White is the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which he co-purchased in 2001 for $2 million. Today the UFC is said to be worth close to $1 billion. When Dana White sees something, perhaps we should all look in the same direction.
|Why is Dana White smiling? Hell, why wouldn't he be? (Getty Images)|
"That isn't too bad to be second to the NFL," White said. "There's nothing bigger than the NFL, man."
Five months later, Dana White isn't so sure about that last sentence. There is, he now thinks, something bigger than the NFL. Or at least, there will be. And that something will be the UFC.
"This sport has the potential to be the biggest sport in the world," White said early Sunday morning after UFC 82. "Bigger than the NFL, bigger than soccer."
That's what White sees, and while some dismiss White's biggest talk as self-promotional bunk, it would be prudent to look at what has changed in the past five months.
Or the past five days.
First of all, CBS has gotten involved. I know, I know. CBS is my website. It pays my bills. Therefore I'm not objective enough to weigh the impact of CBS' foray into mixed martial arts.
How about this for objectivity: CBS picked the wrong MMA outfit.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'll take it. CBS announced Thursday a deal with ProElite that will put MMA on prime time at least four times a year. The deal marks MMA's breakthrough into network television, and I'm thrilled CBS provided that breakthrough. But I'm bummed CBS didn't make a deal with the UFC.
Now that CBS has crossed over, someone else will follow. It will be another network or maybe ESPN, but CBS won't be alone on this island for long. And whoever joins CBS will first look at the UFC. Eventually, a deal will be made.
Dana White said Sunday morning he didn't come to an agreement with CBS because "I'm not going to make a stupid deal," but at the end of the day he knows he has to make a deal with someone. The UFC can't overtake the NFL if it stays exclusively on pay-per-view and Spike TV.
So the CBS deal is huge -- not just for ProElite, but for all of MMA. Including the UFC.