The Incredible Story of the UFC President Dana White Fightonomy

The Incredible Story of the UFC President Dana White

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'Dana White, without whom none of this would be possible', is roared into the microphone at every blockbuster UFC event. 

The UFC president rules over a business with tentacles stretching across the globe, valued at £5billion with an unrelenting growth in popularity. MMA has never had it so good. 

But it has taken almost two decades of blood, sweat and tears to become the behemoth it is now. That blood, that sweat and those tears have largely belonged to White and to understand how the UFC went from the brink of collapse to the great modern success story, you have to understand White. 

His journey and the UFC's are completely entwined. It is one with the soaring highs, crushing lows and almost unbelievable strands that will surely make it to Hollywood one day. 

Independence and self-reliance were ingrained in White from childhood. He would frequently be left alone in the house with his sister because his father was an alcoholic and mother worked tirelessly in different jobs. 

'My dad was an alcoholic, was never around and when he did show up, you didn't want him around,' he previously explained. 'One of the things about growing up alone is that there is a lot of stuff you have to learn on your own. I honestly wouldn't change one thing about the way that I grew up. If I didn't grow up the way that I did, I wouldn't be who I am today.'

He spent much of his childhood in Massachusetts but also spent a portion of time in Las Vegas, where the crucial first piece of the UFC jigsaw puzzle was made. It was there he became friends with Lorenzo Fertitta but White's time at Bishop Gorman high school was short-lived as he was expelled. 

Every day, he would kick shut a large door and send the nun teaching inside into a frenzy. His friends worked out that the nun was so enraged that she would spend the rest of the lesson ranting and raving rather than making them work. So every day, White, in another class, would go to the toilet and kick the door shut on his way. 

The nun had no idea about the identity of her tormentor but one day, White's shoe flew off as he kicked it and he had to scarper without fetching the shoe. The nun then found it and it was quickly deduced that the door-slammer was the boy walking around with one shoe on. The school threw him out and it was only years later that he would cross paths with Fertitta again. 

It was back over on the eastern side of the US that White finished his education and began to make his way in the world. He graduated and worked different menial jobs but one day had the epiphany that there was nothing to lose by pursuing a career in the fight game. 

In a live show with Tony Robbins, White told the story about the moment his new life began in earnest. He was a bellman in a hotel at the age of 19 and explained: 'I was standing in the lobby one day, and thought "what the hell am I doing here?". So I walked out the front door and one of my good friends, who is still one of my good friends, the doorman, said "what are you doing?" I said "I'm quitting, I want to be in the fight business", he said "that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life".

'I just thought "what's the worst thing that could happen if you try?" The day I walked out of that hotel, if it doesn't work out I can go and be a bellman again whenever I want to. I always knew what I wanted to do and every day when I woke up I worked towards that goal. I didn't even have a car, I had a mountain bike, I rode everywhere in town.'  

The way White went about his new career was calculated and impressive. He worked for free under a former Golden Gloves champion named Peter Welch, learning everything there was to know about the fight game. 

He gained experience as a trainer, a cornerman, a promoter and a manager before taking what he learned and using it to launch his own successful business training ordinary people in boxing exercise classes. 

On one life-altering occasion, however, the punches were raining down on White outside the safety of the gym. He was brutally beaten up at the age of 21 outside a bar and felt lucky to escape with his life. 

'He basically said "you owe us money",' White revealed to Fox Sports. 'It was like $2,500, which was like $25,000 to me back then, and said "You owe us money". It was actually a guy named Kevin Weeks, who if you saw the trial he's Whitey's right-hand man.

'Basically said I owed him some money, and I didn't pay him. This went on for a while and one day I was at my place and I got a call and they said "you owe us the money tomorrow by 1 o'clock". I literally hung up the phone, picked up the phone and called and bought a ticket to Vegas.'

Having feared for his safety, dropped his entire life and jetted to safety in Sin City, fate looked kindly on White and by chance he bumped into his old school friend Fertitta at a wedding. 

Fertitta wanted to start boxing training and the pair immediately struck up their friendship again. White was still eager to forge his way in the fight business but didn't know the specific direction yet.