I just spoke to UFC president Dana White, who was on our show "CNBC Reports" tonight. White said that he believes that, despite the recession, the UFC brand is more valuable than it was a year ago.
White gave us a never before released number to prove it, saying that business was up 20 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008. White wasn't afraid to say why his sport was the best, either.
"No wonder baseball is suffering," White said. "There are more kids skateboarding now than playing baseball. And kids these days are into instant gratification. Baseball is too slow. I mean, I bet on the Red Sox game the other night and couldn't even watch it."
White said he can't believe how many professional sports teams are losing money.
"The Indiana Pacers lost something like $30 million last year? How long can these numbers bleed? I've been there and done that and trust me, you can't do it for too long."
White said one of his financial weapons is scarcity, as in there's not a UFC fight on every week.
"That's why the NFL has a great business model," White said. "There are only 16 games. Of course, their only problem is that no one wants to see the game outside this country."
White knows the UFC isn't the NFL yet, but isn't scared to make comparisons.
"Look our ratings in the 18-34's," White said. "We outrated Monday Night Football in that demo four times last year."
White also said he thinks that even in this environment the UFC, which counts Anheuser Busch and Harley-Davidson as sponsors, can land another big sponsor. "Especially now we can do it," White said. "The price of an NFL sponsorship is so high and we hit the same market at a lower price."
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