The history and story of how the UFC went from a shunned underground fascination to a huge force in sports today is well documented at this point.
A lot of fans will have heard the stories of Dana White convincing the Fertitta brothers to buy the UFC or the time they gambled everything on The Ultimate Fighter.
That being said, the promotion and sport of MMA are still so young that we are always finding out new details to bolt onto the story with added context and detail.
On an episode of BigBoyTV, White further explained his origins with the promotion, speaking about an offer he received to run WFA which he declined in favour of working with Lorenzo Fertitta.
As the manager of Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, White was used to negotiating with the UFC and that’s where it all started for him and the promotion.
“I’m on a call with Bob Meyrowitz. I have goosebumps telling you this fcking story. I’m on a call with Bob Meyrowitz, the owner of the UFC, and I’m trying to negotiate Tito’s contract and I’m trying to get Chuck into the UFC. They had screwed Tito over on some money and stuff so I’m trying to get the money back that Tito got screwed over on with the UFC at the time and finally, Bob Meyrowitz fcking snaps and says ‘you know what, there is no more f*cking money, I don’t even know if I have enough money to put on the next event’ then he freaks out on me right and he hangs up.”
Fans who know the history of the promotion will know what’s coming next as the story of White convincing the Fertittas to the buy the UFC is well known at this point.
What a lot of people didn’t know is how White found out that the UFC would be available to buy due to their financial issues.
By working with the promotion as a fighter manager, White was able to use the information he learned to give the Fertittas the heads up.
They then rewarded him by making him the president of the promotion and the rest, as they say, is history.
“When we get off the phone I go holy sh*it, I call Lorenzo and Frank, they’re in Miami right and I go, I just got off the phone with Bob Meyrowitz, he just freaked out on me man, he basically said there’s no more money with the UFC, he’s probably gonna go BK blah blah blah. I think we can buy the UFC and I think we should do it. I said Lorenzo you should give him a call and whatever.”
“Lorenzo calls Bob Meyrowitz and the negotiation starts for the UFC. Now there’s no assumptions that anything’s gonna happen, I never asked for anything, long story short, we start going down the road with these guys and two months later, three months later whatever, Lorenzo ends up buying the UFC, him and Frank call me over and they’re like ‘we want you to be the president of the UFC, we want you to run it’. Just like that.”
Strange that he didn’t mention Frank Shamrock involvement as well…
no mention of john lewis either.
John Lewis is so under appreciated as a pioneer of early MMA
I reached out to him for an interview
- he was nice, but said that he has closed the door on that portion of his life
He is currently planning parties in outer space
hahaha amazing I am sure he is.
shows the kind of man he is to not talk about it and move on.
those of us that were around know what went down and who actually set up the ufc deal.
the fact he didn’t get a check for a few million when they sold the company says alot. selective memory I guess.
The WFA was his, and…he told me his idea for a fight show where the fighters lived and trained together, 2 years before Ultimate Fighter Show
He probably won’t tell you that though.
What was his involvement?
I posted two videos that scratched the surface they have dana, lorenzo, frank all speaking about his early involvment.
john is very smart and likes to make money.
from what I was told he was very involved in the deal.
I would say only him dana and the fertittas really know the full extent.
Minimally John Lewis deserves to be on the UFC Hall of Fame