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He got ‘burned’ - McCarthy explains why Dana White doesn’t want to co-promote MMA events

Former referee turned Bellator analyst ‘Big John’ McCarthy gives his take on why UFC president Dana White does not cross promote with other organizations.

Bossman Dana White at UFC 282.
Bossman Dana White at UFC 282.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

UFC president Dana White recently sat down with rising prospect Paddy Pimblett and spoke about why he doesn’t do co-promotions with other organizations. Here’s what the bossman said:

“Why would we do… if somebody’s that good that’s in one of these other organizations, they’re gonna end up here, anyway,” White said.

But former longtime referee and analyst John McCarthy says there could be a bigger reason.

“He did try it, with PRIDE. Back with Chuck Liddell and Ricco Rodriguez and things like that and he didn’t get anything in return. They said, ‘Oh, we’re gonna send over Sakuraba,’ they never did. And so, he was like, ‘I got burned. I’m not gonna allow someone to burn me again.’

“He looks at it now like, ‘Hey, we are the biggest organization.’ He is absolutely right. And, ‘what does it do for my organization? What does it do for me as the promoter?’ And he’s saying ‘it’s only a benefit for other promotions and I’m not here to benefit them.’ So, his choice to say, ‘I’m not gonna do it.’”

But McCarthy, who’s been around talent from different organizations, disagrees.

“To sit there and say that ‘the best are gonna end up here anyways,’ sorry. It’s already been proven that that’s just not true. And there are a lot of guys out there that I can come up with the names on that, ‘look, this guy’s good.’

“And he deserved to be fighting against guys in the UFC, but he decided, ‘Hey, I don’t want to put up with some of the things that are there,’ and decided ‘I’m not going there. I’ll continue to fight where I want to fight, and I’ll make my money this way and I’ll make a lot of money’ (and they have).

“To sit there and say ‘Oh, I don’t need to cross-promote.’ No. And I don’t put this against Dana in any way, I understand Dana’s point on this. I’m not saying he’s wrong. But to say that ‘Oh, all the good ones are gonna end up here anyways,’ that’s not true. And it’s already been… that’s come about.”

Since PRIDE, the most cross-promotion White has done was 2017’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor spectacle, which reportedly made $600 million in revenue.