Dana White believes a cocaine scandal and extortion attempt on former ESPN president John Skipper led to UFC landing a $1.5BILLION deal with the company… because his successor, Jimmy Pitaro, is a big MMA fan!

UFC president Dana White has opened up on an extraordinary sequence of events, based around a cocaine scandal that he believes landed the MMA franchise a lucrative television deal.

White, who himself has an estimated worth of $500million, believes the 2017 resignation of ESPN president John Skipper to a public extortion attempt from his drug dealer paved the way for the UFC to sign five-year terms with his successor Jimmy Pitaro, worth a reported $1.5billion.

Skipper, White explains, was not a big fan of UFC where as Pitaro was. Before the $1.5billion deal was struck, White and UFC were looking for a deal in the region of $450m, according to MMAmania.

UFC chief Dana White has opened up on how he landed a $1.5billion deal with ESPN

UFC chief Dana White has opened up on how he landed a $1.5billion deal with ESPN

The UFC supremo told Grant Cardone on his YouTube channel:  ‘You ever hear of John Skipper? John Skipper ran ESPN. Now, I think he runs DAZN. Runs ESPN, beloved, looks like the squarest dude on the planet. Older guy. Hates UFC. Hates it. Hates UFC. Big soccer guy. For whatever reason, people like different things. 

‘And I’m not s****ing on John Skipper. But this is a fact, this happened and this is a true story. John Skipper, beloved at ESPN, ESPN’s at the top of their game. These guys are killing it in revenue, they’re getting $5 per subscriber when cable was the biggest it’s ever been. 

‘So, our FOX deal is up and we’re probably not gonna do another deal with FOX. They’re selling off cable networks and re-structuring. So they’re not the same company when we signed with them. And John Skipper’s never, ever gonna take the UFC. So, we’re in a real tough place

‘John Skipper’s cocaine dealer is then gonna rat him out. So he has to tell Disney ‘My cocaine dealer is gonna go public’ or whatever, so he has to step down from ESPN, right at the time we’re trying to make a new TV deal. 

‘Who do they make president? 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 closed to [Endeavor CEO] Ari [Emanuel], and we ended up doing the ESPN deal when our deal was up. So you want to talk about timing!’.

White and UFC agreed a $1.5billion deal over five years with ESPN after Skipper stepped down

White and UFC agreed a $1.5billion deal over five years with ESPN after Skipper stepped down

Skipper said in his resignation statement that he has ‘struggled with substance abuse for many years’ and later spoke up about the extortion attempt in March 2018.

‘Someone from whom I bought cocaine attempted to extort me,’ Skipper told The Hollywood Reporter. ‘They threatened me, and I understood immediately that threat put me and my family at risk, and this exposure would put my professional life at risk as well.

‘I did get some therapy. I did go through treatment. I thought the best thing to do was to take the time to check myself into a facility, and I was able to understand a bit more about substance use and to think about how it intersected with my life. 

‘Therapy isn’t easy, particularly for a Southerner tightly wound with traditional values. I have not necessarily been comfortable reflecting and being self-reflective.

‘I’ve grown to learn that taking care of yourself is a continuous, lifelong process. What I’ve done is taken some time for reflection. I’ve had an opportunity to not use for a long period of time, and I have resources to help me now, which are ongoing.’

Skipper was later hired by DAZN in 2018 and in 2021, launched Meadowlark Media. 



Source link