UFC president Dana White usually doesn't have much time for reflection. But even he promises to savour UFC 100.
"It's blown me away, actually," he said of the interest in the landmark show. "People started asking me at UFC 92: 'What are you doing with 100, what's up with 100?' I'm like '100? I'm thinking about 93 right now. I can't even think about 100 yet."'
More than a fight card, UFC 100 has become a milestone for mixed martial arts. While the sport is still searching for mainstream acceptance in some quarters, fans see Saturday's soldout show at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas as a symbol of the growth and persistence of MMA's major organization.
White expects the 11-bout card, which features two title fights, to attract a record pay-per-view audience for the UFC.
Tickets, ranging from $100 to $1,000, never really made it to the general public. The roughly 11,000 tickets were snapped up in pre-sales to the UFC Fight Club and UFC Newsletter subscribers.
They have since become even hotter commodities. StubHub is offering tickets in the upper deck from $450 up. Cageside seats are on offer at $45,000 each. General admission tickets - at $50 a pop - for a UFC 100 viewing party at the Mandalay Bay Resort Beach are now twice the price and more on the Internet.
The UFC says it received more than 300 media credential applications from North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
From Mexico to Inner Mongolia, the UFC boasts its UFC television programming can be seen in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide in 17 different languages.
The UFC has come a long way from its days as "the red-headed stepchild" of Zuffa Inc., according to White.
Zuffa - brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta - and White purchased the company in January 2001 for $2 million in a deal that closed just three just weeks before UFC 30: The Battle on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.
"We ended up doing the (show) at the Trump Taj (Mahal)," White recalled in an interview with The Canadian Press. "You know how I am, you go out and start picking a fight with me, man, we're going to go at it. But Donald Trump, let me tell you what, back in those days we were out looking for venues and nobody wanted us. Nobody wanted the UFC at their venues.
"Donald Trump welcomed this thing with open arms, liked it, saw the potential. . . . I'll always respect and never say a negative thing about Donald Trump ever."
Not everyone got it. Zuffa poured more than $40 million into the business.
"I can tell you right now, the first four to five years of this thing were so unbelievably miserable, I couldn't even put it into words to you," White said.
White doesn't need any reminders of those days. His old office - "a broom closet" - was across the hall from his current one.
"The room was so tiny and there were like maps and extra furniture in there and old computers that they didn't use and stuff. That was my office the first I don't know how long, maybe the first three months at Zuffa."
There were naysayers everywhere.
"We were looked down upon and we were the red-headed stepchild of Zuffa - 'Oh God, this thing is never going to work. They're burning all the guy's money. This was a horrible idea. They listened to Dana and all this shit,"' White said, adding: "Every one of those guys now wish they had put money into it."
White didn't want to give up on the business, but admits the red ink was talking a toll.
"I did not want to get rid of it. But what I didn't want to do either is keep losing all my friends' money, you know what I mean? These are two guys who I really care about and respect and everything else. Believe me, if you don't think I drove home every night going 'Oh my God,' man."
In 2004, there were signs of growth, but it was slow.
"The business was building. It wasn't building at a pace where you're going to get your $44 million back, you know what I mean. That's crazy big money. And Lorenzo called me one day when I was in the office and he said 'Dana, I can't do this anymore, man. I can't continue to blow all my money and my brother's money on this thing. I've got to get out of this, man. Get out on the streets and see what you can do. See how much money you can raise.'
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