Dana White never seems to sweat his competition, and he won’t be losing any sleep over reports that the PFL may be closing in on a deal to purchase Bellator MMA.
Rumors have swirled for months that Paramount has been looking to unload Bellator from the company, with numerous potential buyers in the mix. Just recently, Front Office Sports reported that the PFL was nearing a deal to buy out Bellator for a $500 million price tag.
Days later, the PFL announced plans to sell a minority stake in the company to SRJ Sports Investments — an offspring of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund — for $100 million, which only stoked the flames about the promotion possibly purchasing Bellator.
It remains to be seen if PFL closes that rumored deal, but don’t expect the UFC to swoop in to steal Bellator out from under them.
“Why on God’s green f******* Earth would anybody buy Bellator?” White said following the latest installment of the UFC’s Contender Series. “So what we were just talking about with business and making the right moves and making the right decisions, there’s been lots of bad ones — Bellator would be one of the f****** biggest.
“Why anybody would buy Bellator is beside me, but sit back and see how this plays out. I’m excited.”
As far as the $500 million price that PFL is reportedly considering to buy Bellator, White could only smile when reacting to that number.
“Bellator’s $500 million? Awesome. Sounds like a steal,” White said. “Sounds like a f******* steal. Buy that thing quick before who else does? Come on, you guys. It’s f****** silly!.”
On paper, the PFL and Bellator combining forces would likely produce the biggest and most viable threat to the UFC, which is still by far the largest organization in the MMA space.
A robust roster of fighters is a great benefit, but White knows that combat sports is still ultimately a business, which means at some point the PFL has to start turning a profit. The $100 million investment from Saudi Arabia sounds like a tremendous boost, but White has seen plenty of competitors dump money into similar companies in the past in an attempt to nip at the UFC’s heels. Thus far, all have failed.
“If you go in the dictionary and look up the word ‘business,’ there’s business and then there’s charity,” White said. “I’m involved in both. I run a business and I do lots of things for charity. Most of these other guys are all running charities. Not businesses. Like I said, you can only do that for so long before it runs out, it ends. So, we will see.
“When you guys ask me these kinds of questions, you ask me like this is the first time I’ve seen things like this or this is the first time somebody with money was getting involved. It’s about a lot more than money.”
White did respond to specific comments made by PFL CEO Donn Davis that compared his promotion to the UFC. Most notably, Davis stated emphatically that “we pay better” when addressing the PFL versus the UFC, which was a claim White vehemently denied.
“One of the big things he said in there, which is absolutely false, is that they pay more than the UFC, which is absolutely positively not true,” White stated. “But I do see them waste unbelievable amounts of money. You can only waste unbelievable amounts of money for so long no matter how much money somebody has.
“There’s either a lot of delusion or he’s uninformed. Almost everything in that statement is incorrect except for what happens in the cage determines your future. I think that’s the only right thing that he said. Good for him. Get out there. F******, let’s fire it up. Whatever. It’s all good.”
Regardless of what Davis said or the investment coming from Saudi Arabia to help the promotion compete with the UFC and other MMA organizations, White promises he holds no ill will towards the PFL.
White doesn’t mind the competition, but he also understands almost better than anybody just how hard it is to find long-term success in combat sports.
“Listen, I’ve said this before about the PFL. I have no beef with those guys,” White said. “Those guys have always been stand-up guys and have always been classy when it comes to the business. These guys are in this to compete with us and I respect that.”