Exiting UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta and UFC President Dana White opened up about the sale of the organization to WME/IMG today in an interview with 8 Sports Now in Las Vegas, honing in on the size of the $4 billion deal as a high mark in sports.
“We have just entered into a contract in what is the largest deal in the history of sports globally,” said Fertitta. “It’s the largest deal ever in the history of sports.”
“The biggest deal in the history of sports and the most valuable sports franchise on earth,” added White.
While Fertitta will be stepping down from the day to day role he’s held for the last several years, White will be staying on, and says he’s taking over a larger workload as he continues to move forward with the organization.
“I’m stepping forward I’m not stepping back,” White said. “With Lorenzo leaving it’s a lot more work for me. Lorenzo and I used to divide and conquer. With him gone, I’m going to have to pick up a lot of the stuff that he used to do.
Both sold the deal as a positive for all involved, and think the future is bright under new ownership for both the fans and the fighters.
“They’re handing it over to a company that we all believe will take this thing to the next level,” White said. “As far as the brand, the sport, and the athletes, it’s gonna be big, it’s gonna be big for everybody.”
Added Fertitta, “Everything that that company can provide, I think it’s going to be exciting for the fans, because you’re going to see more shows, bigger shows, more success. And it I think it should also be great and exciting for the athletes as well because I think it’s going to present them with opportunities that are significantly bigger than anything that they’ve seen before. So I think net-net it’s going to be positive for everybody.”
Fertitta, who with his brother Frank purchased the UFC in 2001 for $2 million, leaves an active role in the organization feeling very good about the work they’ve done.
“No regrets,” he said. “I mean, look, when you take something as an entrepreneur and you take it from nothing to the biggest deal in sports history, I don’t think you should have any regrets. I certainly don’t have any.”
Penick’s Analysis: If it winds up somehow leading to bigger fighter salaries, better events, with more money thrown into it than even the Fertittas had provided, then it will be a great thing for fighters and fans. If instead corners are cut, fighters aren’t compensated accordingly, and things continue on with the status quo, then not so much. It’s impossible to judge at this moment, and we won’t really have a great idea on how things are doing until we get through the next year or two into a new TV deal for the organization. Whether they remain on Fox or not, WME/IMG has to be thinking about positioning the organization to earn a significant new rights deal when this current contract expires in 2018.
[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]
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