The UFC is the biggest MMA promotion on the planet. Owned by Endeavor, it’s a massive multi-million dollar business. However, one man is associated with running the UFC more than any other. UFC President Dana White is more famous than most of his fighters.
He’s been in charge since 2001 and since then has helped the promotion transition into one of the biggest sports enterprises in the world. Love him or loath him, there’s no denying that White has been good for the promotion. However, with almost 20 years in charge and the promotion moving ever deeper into the mainstream, will a change ever happen?
We don’t expect a new UFC president anytime soon, but it is fascinating to consider who could be the next man in the hot seat. Let’s take a look at some possible candidates.
DC has made no secret of the fact that he’d like to be UFC president one day. However, he acknowledges that it could be a long time until that opportunity arises. Despite this, he does make sense as a candidate. He’s a company man, a former two-weight champion and a guaranteed future Hall-of-Famer.
He’s also respected by almost everybody he comes into contact with. A great wrestling coach, he even teaches the professionals at AKA in San Jose. That includes fighters like Khabib Nurmagamedov and Mairbek Taisumov. By the time the job opened up, Jon Jones would be gone too. A strong candidate.
The biggest thing counting against the former middleweight champ is that he’s British. It’s hard to see the UFC President not being from the US. But aside from this, Bisping is extremely successful. He worked extremely hard as a company man to ingratiate himself to the top brass and set up his post-fight career as a TV analyst and commentator.
Meanwhile, he’s been successful outside the UFC, setting up businesses like Playline, Timicoin and pursuing an acting career. He’s got a brilliant podcast and even released a biography last year. In short, The Count knows how to hustle. For a future UFC president that’s key. Is he likely? No, but he’s got an outstanding CV and like Dana White, he says what he thinks.
Sonnen would come with baggage but he’s definitely one of the most qualified candidates on this list. His relationship with the UFC has been occasionally fraught, but when White goes then that might not be a problem. Having fought for both the UFC and Bellator he’d be able to draw on both of his experiences and bring new ideas.
He also promotes Submission Underground. While that’s nowhere near the scale of a UFC event, it is fantastic experience. Sonnen showed off his ability to get things done by hosting an event in a Portland grain silo while every other combat sports event was shut down. Furthermore, if Endeavor wanted to improve the promotion’s relationship with the media, then Sonnen is the man. He currently works for ESPN.
Another man who has done everything is former UFC heavyweight champion, Rutten. The Dutchman is a great communicator, having worked as a color commentator for PRIDE and WSOF. Meanwhile, he has coaching experience and is the part-owner of a gym. He’s also got US citizenship.
Rutten is an ambassador for Karate Combat which is going well. However, he’s had less success with bare-knuckle promotion WBKFF, which saw him get a lot of criticism. But could this be seen as a plus by executives looking for a man who has faced adversity? Rutten never stops working.