In many ways, Vince McMahon and Dana White are one and the same. McMahon was once at the helm of the WWE ship before his July 2022 retirement, whereas White is currently the President of the UFC, a role he’s maintained since January 2001.
By 2005, The Ultimate Fighter was proving to be a hit success for the UFC, which at that time was reportedly on the verge of closing its doors. Airing on Spike TV, it just so happened that the show aired directly after Monday Night Raw, a deal that infuriated Vince McMahon, so much so that he attempted to get one over on Dana White by having his announcer no-show a card.
Vince McMahon Inadvertently Led To Improvements To UFC’s Payroll
As told by legendary fighter Chael Sonnen on his You’re Welcome podcast, Vince McMahon offered then-UFC announcer Mike Goldberg a significant amount of money, a move that in turn led Dana White to realise his errors and make major improvements to the payroll:
“The night I was going to fight on my debut, the Heavyweight Championship was on the line that night. It was Andrei Arlovski. Andrei Arlovski, who is the face of the company at that time because Randy Couture had retired and Tito Ortiz was in this big pissing match. Andrei Arlovski is the new face. He’s selling all the tickets. He’s doing absolutely everything. He’s getting $18,000 to show and $18,000 to win.
Now, there wasn’t really sponsors back then. There was definitely no “Fight of the Night”, backdoor, pay-per-view bonus, none of that even existed. So he’s looking at 18 and 18 to headline a card with the biggest prize in all of sport. That’s extremely relevant to this story.
That week, Vince McMahon contacts Mike Goldberg and he tells Mike Goldberg, ‘I will give you a hundred thousand dollars to no-call, no-show the UFC on Friday. So Goldberg doesn’t get to warn anybody. He just can’t show up and he can’t call in. He just needs to stick them without an announcer. Goldberg does the right thing and the very first person he calls is Dana and Vince tells [Goldberg], ‘This call never happened and I will wire you this money for your work.’ Goldberg calls Dana and says, ‘Here is what just happened’.”
As Sonnen continued, he explained how Dana White realised what was going wrong, understanding that he can’t be paying his main event talent $18,000 if Vince McMahon is offering $100,000 to an announcer:
“Dana not only gives Mike Goldberg a brand new half-a-million dollar contract, but right then realised, ‘[McMahon] is willing to pay $100,000 for my announcer, who is replaceable, and I’m only paying my main event 18 and 18, I got a problem. This is a level of thinking, of strategy, of business play that I’m just not ready for.’
Dana White is only like 45 right now. So in 2005, this is a young guy. He’s 32, 33, he’s still trying to figure the world out and he realizes right then, this is tough. This is a level of thinking, that I’m just not competing at this level right now.”
Mike Goldberg ultimately left the UFC following UFC 207, having debuted almost two decades prior.