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Dana White explains how a cocaine scandal led to the UFC’s billion dollar deal with ESPN

Dana White explains how a cocaine scandal led to the UFC’s billion dollar deal with ESPN

Dana White is explaining how a cocaine scandal led to the UFC’s billion dollar deal with ESPN.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars for its owners and investors.

In order to do that, they have to pair up with a major broadcast company.

When the UFC’s deal with FOX was coming to a close, it was time to re-evaluate and make a new deal.

White is now sharing how it came to be that ESPN picked up the UFC.

It was during an interview with Grant Cardone that UFC President Dana White told the story (h/t MMAMania):

“I’ll tell you a crazy story. You ever hear of John Skipper? John Skipper ran ESPN. Now, I think he runs DAZN. Runs ESPN, beloved, looks like the squarest dude on the planet. Older guy. Hates UFC. Hates it. Hates UFC. Big soccer guy. For whatever reason, people like different things. And I’m not s***ing on John Skipper. But this is a fact, this happened and this is a true story.”

Continuing White explained:

“John Skipper, beloved at ESPN, ESPN’s at the top of their game. These guys are killing it in revenue, they’re getting $5 per subscriber when cable was the biggest it’s ever been. So, our FOX deal is up and we’re probably not gonna do another deal with FOX. They’re selling off cable networks and re-structuring. So they’re not the same company when we signed with them. And John Skipper’s never, ever gonna take the UFC. So, we’re in a real tough place.”

Dana White spoke about John Skipper stepping down from ESPN:

“John Skipper’s cocaine dealer is gonna rat him out. So he has to tell Disney ‘My cocaine dealer is gonna go public’ or whatever, so he has to step down from ESPN, right at the time we’re trying to make a new TV deal. Who do they make president? Jimmy Pitaro, who ran Yahoo! Sports for years. I’ve known him a long time. He’s a great dude, and he loves the UFC. Now you got him, you got a guy named Kevin Mayer, who is really close to (Endeavor CEO) Ari (Emanuel), and we ended up doing the ESPN deal when our deal was up.”

“So you want to talk about timing.”

John Skipper’s resignation from ESPN was confirmed by ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ back in 2018.

It was that same year that the UFC and ESPN brokered a five-year, $1.5 billion broadcast deal commencing on Jan. 1, 2019.

So there you have it, had it not been for cocaine and the blackmail of a non-supporter of the UFC having to step down – there would not have been an ESPN contract. Timing is everything.

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