Dan Lambert owns one of the most successful gyms out there, American Top Team. The gym was recently featured on The Ultimate Fighter and everything. What some people don't know is that Lambert actually tried to buy the UFC. He even put a deposit down in 2001. But when the Fertittas stepped in with a better offer, the old owners took that - and kept Lambert's deposit. Needless to say, he wasn't happy about that.
As a guest on The MMA Hour this week, Lambert stated that he's happy the way it turned out though, because if he had purchased the company, he would have kept it very small due to financial constraints (via MMA Fighting):
"If it ever comes up, the only thing I think is how fortunate all the fighters and managers and fans are that it ended up the way it did, in the hands of the guys it was," Lambert said. "They put a ton of time and a ton of money and ate a lot of losses before it turned around. I'd love to think of what the business was back then and how the fighters survived back then and then I look at how many people have jobs and make livings now and pretty decent ones at times based on that."
It was a different time for MMA back then, of course. He figured he could run 2-3 shows a year and hope that the sport would get regulated in more states. It was when New Jersey and Nevada stepped up to the plate that spurred the Fertittas to get involved.
"I probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere near any of those goals," he said.
That wasn't the only time though. In 2004, when the Fertittas were losing tons of cash on the fledgling promotion, Lambert came calling again, and talks to purchase the company commenced. But they ended up staying the course, ultimately getting a certain reality show off the ground. And as they say, the rest is history.
Lambert was in talks with the Fertittas to buy the UFC again in 2004 after the casino owners were more than $40 million in the red with it. The Fertittas and White decided to stick with it and The Ultimate Fighter reality show helped the UFC earn a television deal with Spike TV. The rest is history.
His anger towards Bob Meyrowitz, the old owner who kept his deposit, hasn't gone away though. He said that Meyrowitz screwed him royally, but it all turned out to be good:
"It was kind of a disaster that worked out pretty well for everyone in the end," Lambert said.