HomeSportsDana White Says a Cocaine Scandal Led to UFC’s Deal With ESPN

Dana White Says a Cocaine Scandal Led to UFC’s Deal With ESPN

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The ESPN deal with UFC was massive. Dana White claims the 2017 deal the two parties struck is all thanks to a cocaine scandal. Imagine that. Of course, White has been known to tell a lot of wild stories. When you’re in the fight business, crazy things can happen.

Talking with Grant Cardone, Dana White spilled the beans on how UFC went from a small-time deal to a global sensation. That move from Fox to ESPN in 2017 is a major reason. The old leadership at ESPN didn’t want the deal. Then things changed.

“You ever hear of John Skipper?” White asked, via TMZ. “John Skipper ran ESPN. Now, I think he runs DAZN. Runs ESPN, beloved, looks like the squares dude on the planet.”

“Older guy. Hates UFC. Hates it,” White continued. He was setting the stage for the reveal. “Hates UFC. Big soccer guy. For whatever reason, different people like different things. And I’m not sh***ing on John Skipper. But this is a fact, this happened and this is a true story.”

Things were at a stalemate between ESPN and UFC with Skipper in charge. Then, all of a sudden the executive announced his resignation. It turns out that it was due to a “substance abuse” problem that Skipper had, which he later revealed was an addiction to cocaine.

Dana White Gets ESPN-UFC Deal

With John Skipper out of the way, Dana White saw a new path to getting the UFC deal done. Without him as president of the sports network, UFC had a real chance of getting the deal done.

“Who do they put in as the new president?” Dana went on. “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, it all worked out for the UFC in the end. Dana White signed his major deal. In case you forgot, it was for 5 years and worth $1.5 billion. That’s a pretty penny, but it seems to have been worth it in the end.