The Natural has spoken.
Yesterday afternoon, FloCombat reported that Zuffa has accepted a $4.2 billion dollar bid for sale of the UFC. Then Yahoo Sports reported that the FloCombat report is false per UFC Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler who also denied the rumors to UFC employees in an internal memo. Despite these denials, FloCombat isn't the only source saying the deal is done. On Friday, several days before FloCombat's report, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture joined ESPN1100 where he discussed the sale rumors.
"I've heard a strong rumor that it is sold. It's done. It was done a day or two ago. Lorenzo's [Fertitta] out. Dana [White] is still in. Four billion dollar price tag, somewhere thereabouts. I heard from fairly reliable sources that that's happening."
Couture is one of the people most responsible for the current $4 billion dollar valuation of the company. He was one of the UFC's biggest stars and helped drag the company out of significant debt to become the global phenomenon it is today. Still even he can't quite believe that number is real.
"That's a crazy number. We were doing the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. They were forty mil down and spent another eleven to get that show on the air. We were very concerned they were going to sell the company or the sport, under that brand, would die for sure."
But it didn't die and a lion's share of the credit for that goes to Dana White. All the rumors and reports of a UFC sale share one thing in common: Dana White is selling his shares but will retain his official job running the company. Couture, who has had many issues with White in the past, doesn't think this is the right idea.
"I hear the company that bought it is keeping him on as the president. If the UFC has a problem right now as a brand, it's an image problem. How they act and how they treat the fighters and the things that they do with their fighters that are in their stable and lot of that trickles down from him - his attitude. His attitude when he does interviews. His attitude when he deals with the media. His attitude when he deals with his fighters.
"So I don't understand. If I bought the company and wanted to change that or take it to the next level, I'm thinking you need a change of face, you need a change of image. You address the class action lawsuit and all the other stuff that's gone on in the tenure that they've been in charge.
"Now you've [become mainstream]. You've kicked down the doors. You're on Fox television. You're in all these countries. You're everywhere. Where aren't you? So do you need to keep kicking down doors and keep maintaining that particular attitude?"
But perhaps the new ownership doesn't want to change things. Whatever critique anyone can make about White and Zuffa, they have taken a struggling brand and turned it into a billion dollar company in less than 20 years and returned over $150 million in profits last year. It is very reasonable to believe that retaining White is seen as the best way to retain the company's value. Even Couture admits as much saying that is is possible the new ownership needs someone help them handle the transition.
"I have no idea what that contract looks like and why but maybe the new owners need need to get in, get the lay of the land, and figure out what's going on. They need somebody to show them the ropes. But are those really the ropes you want to be shown? Some of those ropes are pretty sour in my mind."
Sour or not, having a steady hand behind the wheel may be the best option for new ownership in the coming years. The new owners will have to reckon with a pending class action lawsuit, fighters becoming increasingly aware of the pay gap, the Ali Act potentially being expanded to MMA, and eventually the rising national and global awareness of the dangers of CTE and concussions, all while trying to get a return on their $4 billion investment.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Silva or bust. Georges St. Pierre says he is ready to return to fighting.
Rough moment. Fabricio Werdum explains the reason he ran head long into Stipe Miocic's fists during their fight was because it was "his moment."
Anything is possible. Brock Lesnar's BJJ coach says Lesnar wants to prove he is capable of winning titles still.
Rematch incoming. Miesha Tate says Ronda Rousey is being "pouty" about her loss to Holly Holm.
USADA. All UFC 197 drug tests came back clean.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
HWGOAT. Andreas Hale of Sherdog argues that the UFC should still pursue Fedor Emelianenko despite his fight this past weekend.
Extended preview of 200. That card is gonna be fantastic.
Rogan and Schaub during the Fedor fight.
Chael pontificating on the Brock-USADA situation.
Ben Fodor AKA Phoenix Jones talks about fighting his brother.
Footage of the corner during the Fedor fight. While Fedor is on his stool before the 3rd round, Khabib just runs over to the corner and starts talking to him.
Talking about the weekend.
Weekend reaction from Anik and Florian.
Trifecta of weekend recaps.
Brock peeing for them damn near every day.
This weeks #UFC #USADA numbers Period up to 20th June - 32 athletes tested, 54 samples - totals, ytd all time etc pic.twitter.com/LnjlOmi9vn— Dave/Dim (@dimspace) June 20, 2016
I have been informed that @DerekBrunson is out. I am waiting to find a new opponent. I have trained hard for @ufc200. Too hard not to fight— Gegard Mousasi (@mousasi_mma) June 19, 2016
If they hadn't recently fought, Uriah Hall would have made all the sense in the world.
I think the fans would also like to see me rematch @UriahHallMMA or finally fight @vitorbelfort . @ufc let's make history!— Gegard Mousasi (@mousasi_mma) June 19, 2016
Not exactly what Mousasi had in mind I'd wager.
I am available to the @ufc_brasil @ufc to fight the # UFC200— Thiago Marreta (@TMarretaMMA) June 19, 2016
This Hershey's Statue of Liberty is Tempting to eat pic.twitter.com/nV1wiERFDR— Sage Northcutt (@sagenorthcutt) June 20, 2016
Hand-eye coordination clearly needs work for ping-pong. pic.twitter.com/Mh03GQzbZ6— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) June 21, 2016
They don't let you bring a bow into the octagon.
No one has ever enjoyed being champion more.
DC and Cain training for 200.
Great outdoor work on the track last night with @camacho100 and @officialcainvelasquez. Love fighting at the same time with this dude. He pushes you like no one else. @ufc 200 is gonna be a great night for the American kickboxing academy. #lovetheprocess #weareaka #andstill #downgoesjones @ankorr training equipment
Gegard Mousasi 38-6-2) vs. Thiago Santos (13-3-0); UFC 200, July 9.
James Gallagher (3-0-0) vs. Mike Cutting (6-5-0); Bellator 158, July 16.
Alexa Grasso (7-0-0) vs. Jodie Esquibel (5-1-0); Invicta FC 18, July 29.
Narantungalag Jadambaa (11-4-0) vs. Eric Kelly (12-2-0); One Championship - Dynasty of Champions 6, July 2.
Roger Huerta (22-8-1) vs. Ariel Sexton (10-3-0); One Championship - Dynasty of Champions 6, July 2.
Li Kai Wen (5-3-0) vs. Keanu Subba (3-1-0); One Championship - Dynasty of Champions 6, July 2.
Aleksei Butorin (10-0-0) vs. Aung La N sang (17-9-0); One Championship - Dynasty of Champions 6, July 2.
Ze Wu (4-2-0) vs. Xiaoliang Zheng (0-1-0); One Championship - Dynasty of Champions 6, July 2.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2008: Former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner fought his last fight, losing a split decision to Kendall Grove at The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale. A few months later Tanner would take a trip into the desert where he died from heat exposure.
This event also featured the UFC debut of MR favorite Matt Brown who stopped Matt Arroyo with punches.
Today's poll is a simple yes or no question to which there are hundreds of different reasons for picking either side. Let me know in the comments why you'd like Dana to stay or why he should go. Until tomorrow M-Rmy.
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it.