Back in the summer of 2016, the UFC was sold to WME-IMG for a whopping 4.2 billion dollars. While this initially looked like a great investment, with fighters like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey still actively competing, 2017 was a much slower year for the UFC. Conor McGregor didn’t fight at all. Neither did Ronda Rousey. Neither did Brock Lesnar. Jon Jones fought once, but then failed a drug test. Georges St-Pierre fought once, but seems to have re-retired post-fight. You get the picture…
According to UFC President Dana White, however, there’s no cause for alarm. In fact, the UFC is still doing great business – such that WME-IMG is probably pretty pleased with their investment.
“WME-IMG Endeavor bought us for $4 billion, and obviously they need to hit certain numbers for the banks,” White told ESPN on Monday. “Right now, I’m spending another $1 million (at UFC’s Las Vegas headquarters) on another wing I want. That’s how bad of a year we’re having.”
”(WME CEO) Ari Emanuel wants to buy the building next door and build more s**t. We’re still growing.”
“I think the (2016) sale has everything to do with it,” speaking on people’s questions about the UFC’s financial situation. “Everybody is looking at that $4 billion sale and asking, ‘Did they deliver?’
“F**k yeah, we delivered. We deliver every single year. And still, every year, if you listen to the media, we’re f**ked.”
White then explained that it certainly didn’t hurt to have a stake in Conor McGregor’s blockbuster boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr – even if it wasn’t the UFC’s traditional product.
“Who cares if it was a boxing match?” White said. “Do you think we knew Floyd Mayweather was going to fight Conor McGregor in 2017? F**k no. We still had our year lined out, a budget and everything else.
”This is the fight business. You have no f**king idea what’s going to happen. If that fight hadn’t happened, Conor would have fought twice in the UFC and who knows who he would have fought or the fights it would have set up. This s**t doesn’t just happen. We create this s**t.”
Finally, White addressed the UFC’s hunt for a new home on television, with their deal with Fox nearing its expiration date.
“It’s getting more interesting by the minute,” White said. “ESPN buys Fox Sports’ (regional sports networks), which the UFC is perfect for. And you look at Fox, they have a load of cash from the (sale to Disney). You’ve got powerhouses like Amazon, Netflix and YouTube.”
What do you think of Dana White’s comments on the UFC’s business situation?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/9/2018.
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