Dana White stands in the wings of the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan’s swank Upper West Side, chatting with one of the more than 300 fighters signed to his UFC brand. A few fans have finagled their way backstage, and they snap photos of White, the coarse, charismatic president of the UFC who has helped shape mixed martial arts into one of the nation’s most popular spectator sports.
On the other side of the curtain sit hundreds more mixed martial arts fans. It’s an ornate Art Deco theater, a place that has hosted the Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. But right now, the name on the neon marquee facing Broadway? “UFC PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY, HOSTED BY DANA WHITE.”
The fans are here to ask about Nate Diaz’s chances against Jim Miller, about a possible UFC super show at Cowboy Stadium, about the dramatic rise of Jon Jones as the UFC’s top young fighter. But there’s a more subtle message being told here. It’s a message much bigger than the typical pre-fight hype for the nationally televised "UFC on FOX" fight.