Dana White and the Spirit of American Exceptionalism

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Friday, July 10, 2020


One of the fundamental principles of the United States was that it would be a sovereign body where individuals could engage in free trade. Free trade was meant to enable individuals to pursue what they thought would bring value to their lives by bringing value into others’ lives in the form of consumer surplus, products, and services. 

The environment for that free trade was meant to foster and reward the values that are associated with American capitalism which are hard work, courage, determination to achieve and improve oneself despite any adversity. In short, the land of the free was meant to foster the development of exceptional humans and achievements. 

During a time when much of the nation was still in lockdown, the financial markets were in turmoil, and the unemployment rates of Americans were soaring, Dana White, like many Americans, was trying to figure out how to keep the business and all of its employees afloat.

In the face of overwhelming adversity, Dana White did not shutter his organization, he did not panic, and most importantly, he did not hold out his hand to the government for help. He assessed his situation, analyzed the new information, and made a conclusion about the state of the world and the effects that would have upon the future of the world and his business’ place in it. Once this was done, he decided to do whatever he could to keep his business moving forward.

The solution he came up with started with scrapping all of the UFC events and plans for the year and start from scratch to enable the firm to successfully perform during the pandemic. They needed a way to keep their fighters and staff safe, while also satisfying the massive demand for live sports entertainment worldwide in the process. The resolution was to have live events with minimal staff, no crowds of fans, temporary quarantines, massive surface sterilization efforts, and universal testing of every individual in attendance. 

The next step was implementing this solution, a costly multistep process.

Some funds were impressively allocated to recruiting public health experts and physicians to enable live events that were safe for the participants. The most notable part of this strategy was testing everyone on staff, as well as the fighters, for COVID and the subsequent quarantining of the fighters during the days leading up to the fight. 

This resulted in several positive tests, but those individuals were safely transported home. To date there has not been a transmission from an infected fighter or staff member to another.

While meeting the high demand for live sports, it is not clear that White and the UFC are profiting from doing so. As a result of their preventative COVID measures, the UFC live events are only broadcasted and closed to fans; this means they lose all ticket sales revenue, or, as it is referred to in the business, the gate. According to White, the organization is set to lose 100 million dollars in revenue from the absence of live shows with fans in 2020.

Despite the massive costs of continuing to put on shows, I believe Dana White is doing it for two chief reasons. As of late, combat sports, and the UFC especially, have reached an all-time high regarding general popularity and social awareness. If they were unable to perform live fight shows for the whole year of 2021, the damage to the fight business would be extreme, as well as to the general popularity of combat sports. So even though it is costing the company tens of millions, it may be deeply necessary for their long-term survival. 

The other reason is to inspire the American people. Everywhere Americans turned they saw the industrial, social, and political titans that are relied upon in times of crisis either panicked or frozen with fear. I think he found it to be an unacceptable response to uncertainty and adversity and subsequently resolved to lead by example. 

As he so eloquently put it after the last live show in Jacksonville in early May 2020 (UFC 249 Overeem V Harris), “Nothing is impossible, everything can be done, especially in 2020. You just have to be willing to work hard enough, spend some money, and come up with solutions.”

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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