If the UFC is having any issues with its finances, that’s news to Dana White.
Well into Year 2 of Zuffa, LLC’s $4.2 billion dollar sale to WME-IMG, the company’s most valuable property has dealt with newfound scrutiny in the wake of disappointing pay-per-view sales and questions about its ability to create new stars to fill the void created by Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, and Brock Lesnar, all of whom were absent from the Octagon in 2017.
While it might appear to those on the outside looking in that a lot of work has to be done for WME-IMG to recoup on its investment, White insists that last year was a massive success and the business is only flourishing.
“WME-IMG Endeavor bought us for $4 billion, and obviously they need to hit certain numbers for the banks,” White told ESPN. “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.
”(Endeavor 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,” White continued, speaking to the perception of how the UFC’s business is doing. “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.”
One reason that White can afford to make bold proclamations to the public about the UFC’s success is the promotion’s involvement in the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather boxing match last August. That fight did massive box office numbers, putting it in second-place all-time among the most lucrative PPV events in history (though White and McGregor contend that it is No. 1).
With the UFC collecting a massive slice of that pie, it boosted what White thinks would have been a huge year even if that crossover bout hadn’t happened.
“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.”
White expects the UFC brand to have plenty of value when it comes time to hit the negotiating tables later this year after their current broadcasting deal with Fox Sports expires.
“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.”
And should any of these networks or channels partner up with White, they could find him bringing another combat sports product along with him. The UFC president has made it clear he intends to dabble in the sport of boxing, and he’s confident that he can offer benefits no other promoter can touch.
It’s these advantages and his reputation as a key part of the UFC’s history that White thinks will allow him to attract top talent to his promotions.
“Whoever an athlete is, I don’t care who it is, I want to fly you to Las Vegas and we’re going to meet,” White said. “I’m going to walk you through this new facility, show you the gym, the trainers, all the amenities. Free supplements, physical therapy, we’ll cook your food exactly how you like it three times per day. You’ll get health insurance.
”Who can offer you a better deal than me in combat sports? F**k boxing, MMA, whatever it is. Who can offer a better deal than me? The answer is nobody. This is what we do. Keep doubting us.”
FOTY. Max Holloway is our 2017 Fighter of the Year.
Missed Fists. Get caught up on some fights you may have missed, starting with Rizin Fighting Federation’s year-end show.
No respect. Stipe Miocic reminds everyone who the champ is ahead of UFC 220.
No thanks. It looks like Jimmie Rivera won’t be fighting Marlon Moraes after all.
Olympics. Joanna Jedrzejczyk became the first female UFC fighter to carry the Olympic torch.
DC breaks down the UFC St. Louis main event.
Chael Sonnen has his pick for Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou.
Emil Meek’s journey.
ICYMI: The latest edition of Tyron Woodley’s Hollywood Beatdown.
Joe Rogan chats with Jeff Novitzky.
The MMA Hour. Interviews with Gunnar Nelson, Stipe Miocic, Marlon Moraes, Jimmie Rivera, MIke Perry, Jimmy Smith, and more.
The Co-Main Event. It’s never too early to start talking about the upcoming Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
The next episode.
That’s some coaching.
The past weeks have been 100% about family, so perhaps I'm a few days late, but I want to thank @jimmysmithmma Bellator was Jimmy's "turf" and when I made the move he was everything and more a broadcast partner and friend could ask for! I am a Jimmy Smith Fan for Life! pic.twitter.com/430pVhOvMt— Mike Goldberg (@GoldieOnTV) January 8, 2018
Shut it down.
Congrats Hawaiian @Tuaamann_ pic.twitter.com/F5C2pD3G1D— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) January 9, 2018
Cool to see Tua come thru in the clutch tonight. I saw him win the Hawaii High School State Championship his Junior year and have been following him ever since https://t.co/vLYZJPdPBX— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) January 9, 2018
Roll tide. Kirby is mos def heading in fight direction. #rolltide #sec— Eryk Anders (@erykanders) January 9, 2018
Max Holloway (19-3) vs. Frankie Edgar (22-5-1); UFC 222, March 3.
Mike Perry (11-2) vs. Max Griffin (13-4); UFC on FOX 28, Feb. 24.
Tomasz Narkun (14-2) vs. Mamed Khalidov (34-4-2); KSW 42, March 3.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
1979: Future welterweight great Jake Shields is born. Shields made his professional MMA debut in 1999 and he would go on to compile a 32-9-1 record with one no-contest that includes wins over Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, and Carlos Condit.
The 39-year-old won the Strikeforce middleweight championship in 2009 and later unsuccessfully challenged Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title on April 30, 2011. Shields’s bout with “GSP” was the headliner of UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, and that event still holds the North American attendance record for an MMA show with an announced crowd of 55,274.
After a quiet week in the MMA world, the sport comes back in full force with upcoming offerings from the UFC, Invicta FC, and Legacy Fighting Alliance among others. Plan your schedule carefully this weekend and make sure you don’t miss what should be an early Fight of the Year candidate between Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi in the UFC St. Louis main event on Sunday.
Who walks out of UFC 222 with the featherweight title around their waist?
This poll is closed
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit Jed up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.