Is Chael Sonnen the man to replace Dana White one day?
Dana White is a man constantly on the move.
Whether it’s flying back and forth between shows overseas or handling the day-to-day operations at the UFC offices in Las Vegas, White never seems to slow down much. And even with a seemingly limitless amount of energy, burning the candle at both ends might eventually catch up to him.
So it becomes a natural question that if there is a day when White steps down as UFC president or maybe even takes a reduced role in the company, who would fill his shoes?
While there may be a line of potential executives around the corner who would love to do what White does every day, the sport of fighting would probably best be served left in the hands of somebody who loves fights. Maybe that person is UFC contender Chael Sonnen?
"I think Chael would be fantastic," White told reporters while in Germany. "He’d be fantastic. The thing is with Chael, though, he over-exaggerates too much, and you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. But Chael is obviously a passionate guy about fighting, he loves it, and he’s great."
I think Chael would be fantastic. Chael is obviously a passionate guy about fighting, he loves it, and he’s great
— Dana White
White has no plans of stepping down from his role as UFC president any time soon, and even if he did he’s not sure the company could persuade Sonnen to take the job. In addition to being in one of the featured fights at UFC 175, Sonnen co-hosts "UFC Tonight" each week on FOX Sports 1 and serves as an analyst on several pre- and post-fight shows. And there’s been plenty of chatter about other television shows and entertainment avenues interested in employing the "American Gangster."
White believes that would be a bigger hurdle than just finding out whether Sonnen is the right man for the job.
"Chael has so many opportunities right now, he wouldn’t even have time," White said with a laugh. "If I left tomorrow and they said, ‘Hey, we want you to come run this thing,’ he’s got a lot of big opportunities out there right now. Who knows? It’s wide-open for him."
While Sonnen is more than capable of giving an over-the-top interview and promoting an event like few can, even he’s hesitant to say he could replace White in the UFC hierarchy. In a conversation with FOX Sports in late 2013, Sonnen was asked about taking on a role like the UFC president or maybe even playing Dana White if he ever retires.
Sonnen sees it as a huge compliment, but not something he’s ready to do right now.
"Dana’s the master and it’s a huge compliment to be compared to him, but there’s never been anybody that could keep up with Dana, that could work as hard as Dana, that’s sacrificed what Dana’s willing to sacrifice, and I’m not any different. He’s my idol, I copy him in many ways, but I’m no Dana White," Sonnen said. "I do appreciate you making that comparison."
Regardless of ambition or discussion about "what if," White makes it clear that he’s not going anywhere, any time soon. He’s got plenty of work left to do before he can sit back, relax and feel like he did the job he came here to do.
"People have been predicting my burnout for a very long time. It hasn’t happened yet, I don’t see it happening," White said. "I don’t see me slowing down; I love this s–t."