On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore the routines, schedules, habits and typical day in their life.
If there was any doubt at all about Dana White’s love for mixed martial arts, they were wiped away in 2016 when Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company, sold to WME-IMG for $4 billion. With his stake in the company, White reportedly made over $300 million from he sale. Most people would have hightailed out the 24/7 grind of the sports entertainment game, White’s partners, the Fertitta brothers sure did — but not him.
If I was a millionaire, I can think of several other better things to do than get cursed out by hot-tempered fighters, some of whom having blazingly fast hands. But not for Dana White. He couldn’t think of anything else better to do than spend every waking moment of his life planning and executing the UFC’s growth from a once-despised sport to one of the most popular entertainment hubs in the world.
For the UFC president, it’s not the money, but the spirit of competition and thrill of winning that drives him during his non-stop, relentless daily schedules. “I just like to win,” White tried explaining to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on his approach to gambling, and everything else in life. “Do I need to play cards? I’m not gambling to win money. It’s just such a weird mental psyche thing. I like to (expletive) win.”
Since acquiring the UFC in 2001 along with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta for $2 million, White has guided the promotion into the leading mixed martial arts company in the world. There’s the UFC, then there’s everything else. To give you an idea of the sport’s surging popularity, in 1993 — the first year of the UFC’s existence — they held one event. Last year, they held 42 events, almost one for every week of the year.
I love this business. I love what I do. It’s not work to me; it’s fun. I literally could do anything that I want to do. I’ve obviously made enough money. There isn’t anything I would rather do than the UFC, go to work or talk about work.UFC BOSS FIGHTS CLOCK | LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
In a 2009 profile, we learn that a typical day for White might see him arriving home at 4am, getting a few hours of sleep, then waking up at 8am. White confesses that he only sleeps between three to six hours a night, he’s too distracted about what needs to get done. But no matter what he’s doing, White is home in the morning to have breakfast with his kids — sons, Dana III and Aidan, and daughter, Savannah — and drive them to school.
“I don’t care if I get home at 5 in the morning, I wake up two hours later and get the kids ready for school, eat breakfast and I drive them to school every day,” he says. Outside of the UFC, White’s kids are his only priority in life. “If it’s not a weekend that we have a fight, the weekends are absolutely 100 percent devoted to my kids. Starting on Friday night when I get home until Monday morning when I leave, I’m with them the entire weekend.
As the company president, White oversees every aspect of the business, from hosting pre-fight and post-fight press conferences, to directly negotiating fighter contracts, and even approving walk out music. He admits to being a control freak, even though he’s eased up in recent years. “I used to be a lot worse. I’ve let go of some things. Three years ago, you didn’t sharpen a pencil in that place without asking me first.”
I don’t really have hours. I work 24 hours a day. There’s not a time during the day that I’m not working. If it’s a Sunday, and I’m not coming into the office that day, I’ll be at home with my kids. But I’m on the phone 50,000 times with Lorenzo or fighters.UFC boss fights clock | Las Vegas Review-Journal
In a more recent interview with Fox Business about running the UFC during COVID-19, White talked about the difficulties of getting the planned events back on track, but confessed that he enjoyed the challenge, “You’re gonna think I’m a twisted sicko here, but it was actually fun. I like the challenge.”
When he was asked about being locked down at home during the pandemic, White focused on the positive aspects of getting to spend more time with his family:
“I’ve been spending time with my kids, I’ve been working out. I’ve been doing all the things I said that if I had the time to do, I would do. Me and my daughter have been going on these bike rides that are incredible. Listen, I could do this forever. It’s almost like being retired but I’m not. It’s been awesome.”
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Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.