There have been two stories that have dominated the talk in the MMA world: the possible sale of the UFC and UFC 200. In a recent interview with the LA Times, the head of the UFC, Lorenzo Fertitta, was quick to dismiss any rumors about the UFC being for sale and deflected the question in favor of UFC 200. The two owners wanted to strongly emphasize the growth of the company since UFC 100.
Lorenzo said on selling the UFC:
“Look, if we bring on an investor or something happens, we’ll let everyone know,” Fertitta said. “I sat here as I got back from the Fourth of July weekend and went through every piece, every second, of what’s been created for UFC 200.”
“I’ve never been more bullish on the business. I still have massive love for the sport. I never said I was walking away.
“What’s happening — this is standard. Any company, this size and magnitude, you don’t talk about things you’re working on in strategical terms. So there’s nothing to report.”
UFC 200 is just 36 hours away and while Jon Jones has been pulled from the fight the card remains stacked with huge names like Daniel Cormier, Miesha Tate, Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, and Frankie Edgar. Brock Lesnar makes his UFC return to fight Mark Hunt. Their 3-round fight is now the main event for UFC 200.
On the growth of the company Fertitta said:
“The spectrum and brand of the sport has come a long way. You don’t take time to look at the accomplishments and appreciate how the sport has grown when you’re doing this every day – but there’ve been a lot of changes.”
The UFC is going to miss out on a lot of PPV money and gate revenue at the new T-Mobile Arena. However, the program is still going to make a lot of money and UFC 202 featuring Conor McGregor in a rematch fight against Nate Diaz is just around the corner. UFC 202 could break all the PPV buy records in the history of the sport.
If the UFC is actually looking to sell the end of the year is the best time to do it. Their financial situation will be the best it has ever looked. With how fluid scheduling is (22 Main Events have already been switched in 2016) the UFC could easily be looking at a sub-par year by virtue of top earners missing out on fights.
Brock Lesnar fighting in the main event is purely a way to keep casual sports fans wrapped up in the event. While Brock Lesnar is well known in the MMA community he isn’t respected the way he once was given that Lesnar left the UFC after an above average career to join the WWE. However, Lesnar is still a huge name amongst casual sports fans and the UFC is leaning heavily towards drawing in casual sports fans for the UFC 200 PPV to be as successful as they hope.
The UFC has come a long way since UFC 100. The organization has partnered with USADA to make it the leading sport in testing athletes and the recent penalty to Jon Jones shows that the UFC is fully committed to removing PEDs from athletes’ training. Reebok signed as a sponsor and the UFC has partnered with FOX to put PPV-level fights on network television. Professional MMA has been legalized in the state of New York and the UFC will put on an event in Madison Square Garden in November.
While the UFC 200 PPV is not as appealing anymore it’s important to realize how far the organization has come since the last time Brock Lesnar was the main event of a monumental PPV program.
[h/t LA Times]