Dana White told One Nation that he nixed a deal for CBS to buy UFC. Screen grab: One Nation

By his own admission, Dana White is typically tardy.

That wasn’t the case, however, on one occasion as UFC negotiated what would have been a major deal with CBS. And the change of pace proved to alter the course of the company’s history.

Appearing on Fox News’ One Nation with Brian Kilmeade earlier this week, White revealed that CBS was previously in talks to purchase the UFC. The deal, however, failed to come to fruition, thanks in large part to the UFC president arriving early on a phone call and getting into a fight with executives from CBS corporate sibling Showtime.

“CBS tried to come in and make us an offer to buy us at one point,” White told Kilmeade. “I was in Hawaii on vacation. And ironically, I’m usually late to everything. I was on the call early. And the Showtime guys were on the call early because they — I didn’t know they were going to be on. I thought we were talking to [former CBS Corporation chairman and CEO] Les Moonves. So by the time Les Moonves and [former UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] got on the phone, me and Showtime were fighting. Going at it. Literally, ‘F you, F you,’ back and forth. And those guys got on and heard us going back and forth. And the call, literally, that was the end of it.

“Lorenzo calls me right back immediately and goes, ‘I guess we’re not doing a deal with CBS.’ I said, ‘Yeah, sorry. We got into it a little bit,'” White continued. “I hated the guys at Showtime. A bunch of those guys worked for the UFC when we first started out. I thought their production sucked, I thought they were terrible at what they did and I was very vocal about it.

“And then it just so happens, we’re talking about CBS making us a billion=dollar offer to possibly buy the company. By the time Lorenzo and Les Moonves get on the call, full-blown war.”

“That is fantastic. I’ve never heard that,” Kilmeade replied.

“Never told it,” White responded.

Personal beefs aside, White’s intuition proved correct. While he said CBS’ offer to potentially buy UFC was for $1 billion, Endeavor ultimately bought the MMA giant for more than $4 billion in 2016.

In the years since, UFC has seen its popularity — and business portfolio — skyrocket, with a media rights deal with ESPN and a merger with WWE to form TKO Group Holdings. As he tells it, none of it might have ever happened had White — who also revealed that he nixed a media rights deal with HBO over similar issues — not shown up early on that call.

[Fox News]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.