Saturday, April 13

Why Now Is The Perfect Time For Dana White To Achieve His Boxing Dream

Highlights

  • White has deep boxing roots and a roster of UFC stars ready for crossover matches, making Zuffa Boxing a lucrative venture.
  • With the UFC ESPN deal expiring in 2025, White could secure separate deals for Zuffa Boxing and leverage existing connections for big bucks.
  • By tapping into the YouTuber market, refining business strategies, and balancing MMA and boxing ventures, White can pioneer Zuffa Boxing.



One of the things MMA fans give UFC President, Dana White, credit for is his business acumen. Whether you like White’s lavish spending habits, his politics, or how he runs his part of the industry, he knows about building a brand. It’s why the UFC is considered the pinnacle of MMA, with some even believing it can trump boxing as combat sports’ biggest spectacle in due time.

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Coincidentally, White has been chiming in on boxing and the idea of crossover fights. He lambasted what’s going on at present, despite the UFC partnering up and making money with Mayweather Promotions in 2017 when ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor fought the legendary Floyd Mayweather. Since then, White has been coy about future boxing crossovers. However, now is the perfect time for White to resurrect an old dream with Zuffa Boxing.



Dana White’s Zuffa Boxing Dream, Explained

The UFC CEO Has A Background In Boxing

Dana White smiles at a UFC press conference

  • White has been vocal about his interest in rejuvenating the boxing scene and has expressed intentions to promote high-profile boxing matches.
  • While his primary focus has been on MMA with the UFC, White’s involvement in boxing has garnered attention and speculation within combat sports circles.

In the ’90s, White was into boxing. He grew up in it, trained and even entertained the idea of boxing. However, he transitioned into wanting to work in the fight business. In time, White would leave Boston and begin solidifying plans with the Fertittas to buy the UFC. Still, White had a passion for boxing, and an ax to grind. It’s been said that he tried to enter the boxing arena and promotion business in Las Vegas, only to be rebuffed by the bigwigs.


Since then, he has had a grudge, calling boxing “broken” as he lashed out at promoters like Oscar de la Hoya and Bob Arum. Despite that drama, White continued to eye working on boxing projects alongside the UFC’s success. Rumors circulated he wanted to work with talents like Claressa Shields (who is now with the PFL), but nothing materialized.

While it remains an unofficial term, this vision was called “Zuffa Boxing” — as Zuffa owned the UFC before it was bought by Endeavor and repackaged with WWE as TKO. In 2019, he said he still had interests, although they quickly waned by the time 2022 rolled around. That said, there is a passion and signs that White would resuscitate this dream with the right people and infrastructure in place.

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Dana White Has the Perfect Roster for Boxing

The UFC Has Already Invested In Boxing Content


UFC Fighter

Opponent

Conor McGregor

vs

Manny Pacquiao

Kamaru Usman

vs

Jake Paul

Israel Adesanya

vs

Canelo Alvarez

Amanda Nunes

vs

Claressa Shields

Francis Ngannou

vs

Tyson Fury

Jorge Masvidal

vs

Jake Paul

White has the benefit of high-funding backers and a great roster he can look at for cross-integration. He has current boxing talents like Sean O’Malley, Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier. Plus, he can lean into athletes he worked with in the past, and with whom he has a great relationship. Jorge Masvidal has his own promotion and wants to box Nate Diaz (who left the UFC to box and lose to Jake Paul). If McGregor ever returns to the ring, White could tend to that as well. They would draw a ton of eyes, with sponsors sure to attach themselves to mine content out of it.


The likes of UFC Hall of Famer José Aldo also come to mind, as well as Jeremy Stephens and Anthony Pettis. White can reconcile bonds with fighters like Tyron Woodley and Anderson Silva, too. This would be perfect for UFC Fight Pass, among the bevy of other MMA and combat events they broadcast. It can easily be a mix of MMA fighters boxing each other, or the elite ones fighting boxers.

This would allow White to build straight boxing matchups up top, with MMA crossover fighters on the undercard. He is already working with Irish up comer, Callum Walsh, airing his last fight on Fight Pass. Young fighters would love this platform, which has seen the likes of ‘Suga’ elevate themselves off Dana White’s Contender Series.


White repurposing his boxing project on a hub that will automatically bleed MMA fans into viewership would be an astute move, not to mention one that can rope in big boxing names if need be. Devin Haney (who is supported by Matchroom Boxing) and Terrence Crawford (who left Arum’s Top Rank in 2021) are examples of fighters who float around and negotiate their own deals, acting as their own promoters.

These are independent contractors, in a sense, who White can work with to create marquee cards and have his mid-to-low level talent benefit from. Simply put, there are many elements roving around both the boxing and MMA worlds that White can charm into fighting for a potential boxing flagship.

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The UFC ESPN Deal Expires In 2025


White can easily fold a boxing promotion into TKO, secure separate deals with ESPN, or work with other streamers. Prime Video has a deal with PBC while Netflix is bringing the Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson fight. It shows the market is there. White has solid relationships with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, as well as Saudi Arabia, so he can leverage those and get into the boxing game in the Middle East. The UFC already has lucrative deals with the Saudis and UAE, which feels like the foundation is present for PPVs if need be.

White has pushed the UFC into orbit, and is soldiering on by working with content creators such as Nina Drama and the Nelk Boys for things like Power Slap. He knows how to pioneer an initiative and is viewed by many as a prominent sporting business mind. He is still in different ventures with the Fertitas, he is popular in the new media space, and has partnerships with cutting-edge brands such as PRIME. Given the head honchos behind the latter, KSI and Logan Paul (who is a WWE superstar now) box as well, White can tap into that YouTuber market if need be.


White has said he isn’t into gimmick fights, but the public has called his bluff on that. He was hoping to get Jon Jones a fight against Tyson Fury, but that didn’t materialize. He even once said Wanderlei Silva was stricken from UFC history, but joked how he forgot about it as Silva is a new Hall of Fame inductee. The point is, when it’s good for business and brand-building, White won’t say no to an opportunity. Especially if it means making boxing cool for a whole new generation of social media-driven fans.

White has a shot here to also refine things, so that he doesn’t sacrifice MMA athletes the way Francis Ngannou lost to Anthony Joshua. It’s all about building a business model that can be scaled, not aiming too far ahead with how talented fighters are, and being realistic as to the ROI. If anything, White can use this methodical approach, stick it to haters and be a unique bridge between old-school and new-era boxing. Ultimately, White would get to scratch that old itch, use his infinite resources to perfect the boxing dream, and show once more, he can create something from scratch.


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