FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE 1/20: Top UFC Fight Pass exec leaves WME/IMG, plus notebook (w/Keller’s Analysis)

By Jonathan Cervantes, MMATorch contributor

Since the acquisition of the UFC by WME/IMG, the company has seen several high-profile departures as the new management looks to overhaul operations, and yet another executive has cut ties with the company.

Citing his desire to spend more time with his family, Eric Winter, the head of UFC Fight Pass, announced his decision to resign. “It is a tough decision to leave a company, but the personal sacrifices I was making commuting away from my family to Las Vegas on a weekly basis proved too challenging for me to overcome,” Winter said in a post on his Facebook page.

Winter joined the UFC a year and a half ago after a successful career working with Yahoo Sports. He oversaw the expansion of the Fight Pass division and worked on the online network digital properties.

Below is the full statement from his Facebook post.

“Today is an extremely sad (business) day for me as it is my last day working for the UFC. It is a tough decision to leave a company, but the personal sacrifices I was making commuting away from my family to Las Vegas on a weekly basis proved too challenging for me to overcome.

“I cannot thank the executives at UFC enough for working with me on my transition and affording me the opportunity to leave on my own terms. And the WME-IMG leaders couldn’t have been more professional and understanding.

“Dana White called me last night and was as cool as he’s always been to me. He reminded me we’ve known each other since 2002 (DIRECTV, Yahoo Sports & UFC) and would always be there for anything I needed.

“Since my 1st day at UFC to my last, I have been blessed to work with some extremely talented colleagues from all corners of this earth. Together, we were involved with a sport – and organization – that we all loved to its core.

“I will never forget when Dana and Lorenzo Fertitta recruited me from Yahoo Sports to come join UFC to manage its new over-the-top business – UFC FIGHT PASS.

“The three-month period of recruitment was fascinating. It was Lorenzo and Dana – then, the two most powerful figures in combat sports – excitedly talking about their vision for how UFC content was being created and distributed and how they wanted to be far out in front of other content creators when it came to revolutionizing user consumption. Those two were giddy like school kids and it was infectious enough for me to leave Yahoo after an amazing nine-year run.

“As I type this note I feel a sense of sadness for unfinished work, even though in 18 months we blew the roof off the FIGHT PASS business. It is difficult to leave such a fantastic team that works tirelessly 365 days per year. But my colleagues across all business units are insanely brilliant and will no doubt take this company to even greater heights.

“As for what I will do to keep myself busy? I am still a Board Advisor for SeatGeek, the world’s largest event ticket search engine. And I look forward to continually providing guidance to the co-founders and their executives.

“For the rest of this school year, at least, I get to do what I enjoy more than anything: making my kids breakfasts, packing their lunches and taking them to school (oh, and my duties now include picking them up, too).

“Being present for my 4th-grade daughter Tilly and 1st-grade son Henry in person – as opposed to on FaceTime – is more important to me than ANYTHING in the world. And enough cannot be said to my amazing wife Joanna Katz for being the glue that kept our family together during my sojourn with the UFC. Now you get me 365 days per year ha ha.

“Thank you to my friends & family for allowing me to share my UFC journey with you the past year and a half.”

Cervantes Analysis: It was a rather short stint with the UFC but his presence will certainly be missed as Fight Pass has nearly half a million subscribers worldwide and was cited as a major source of revenue by Lorenzo Fertitta back in 2015. With all the departures and shakeups we’ve seen in the last few months I’m wondering if  WME/IMG already has a replacement in mind or had anything to do with helping Winter make this decision because I can’t see such a vital position remaining vacant for long.


-WSOF Bantamweight Champion Marlon Moraes is reportedly negotiating a contract with the UFC, according to Bloody Elbow

-Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping told Fox Sports he will be out of competition until May, citing knee surgery as the reason.

-In an interview with TMZ, Frankie Edgar said he’d like to see B.J. Penn retire after he was dominated by Yair Rodriguez last weekend.

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: THURSDAY NEWS DIGEST: UFC beefs up UFC’s return to London in March, Brett Rogers charged, Weidman vs. Mousasi (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

(Jonathan Cervantes has been an avid fan of MMA since 2009 when he saw GSP vs. B.J. Penn 2. He has practiced tae kwon do, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling in the past and is currently a student majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of San Francisco. He writes the MMATorch News Digest on Fridays and Saturdays. Michael Hiscoe writes MMATorch News Digests Sunday through Thursday each week.)

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