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Morning Report: Dana White on the financial burden moving UFC 232 put on the fighters: ‘It is what it is’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In case you’ve been out of the MMA bubble for the last few days, in the lead up to UFC 232, Jon Jones was found to have had a drug-test abnormality which caused the Nevada Athletic Commission to refuse to sanction him. But instead of scrapping Jones’ light heavyweight title fight against Alexander Gustafsson and letting the Cris Cyborg-Amanda Nunes superfight headline the pay-per-view, the UFC decided to move the entire event to Los Angeles on just 6 days’ notice.

The move was a fairly massive one, not just geographically but financially, for both fighters and fans. Those fans who had planned their holiday travel around coming to the event in Las Vegas were now up a creek and the 26 fighters on the card now will be paying California’s state income tax - the highest in the country. That’s a pretty big hit to the paycheck considering Nevada doesn’t have any state income tax. But UFC President Dana White says it was the best option available.

“Listen, it’s not an easy decision to make,” White told reporters at the UFC 232 pre-fight press conference yesterday. “You’ve got to pull the trigger, you’ve got to make moves. You’re not gonna make everybody happy, not every fan, every fighter, but we gave the fans in Las Vegas the opportunity to get tickets first, and the tickets are cheaper. We had over 3,000 people buy tickets here that had tickets in Vegas. We did everything we could to make it better. We did what we could do.”

Be that as it may, some of the fighters on the card were unhappy essentially being told, just a week before their fight, that they would suddenly be taking a substantial pay cut, with good reason. The move to California will costs fighters somewhere between 9-13 percent of their purses, depending on their income bracket. But the man who pocketed over $300 million dollars from the sale of the UFC in 2016, did not have a lot of sympathy for his fighters.

“Who is going to pay my income tax in California?” White asked when questioned about the financial implications for the fighters. “It is what it is. It’s either that or not fight and nobody gets paid, nobody does anything. It is what it is. We had to move it. Listen, it’s costing everybody more money. It is what it is.”

Perhaps he was less sympathetic because the move is also costing the UFC a pretty penny. White revealed that the upfront cost of moving the event to The Forum in Los Angeles on less than a week’s notice was $6 million. White says he doesn’t even know if the PPV revenue from keeping Jones on the card will be worth the added expense the UFC incurred to keep this fight alive, but that at the end of the day this was the right decision for the fighters and the best possible solution.

“[The move cost us] about $6 million,” White said. “Yeah. We don’t know [if the pay-per-view revenue will make up for that]. Pay-per-view is always a crap shoot, you don’t know how that’s gonna go. Listen, this was the right thing to do. At the end of the day, USADA’s not gonna put their reputation and their business on the line for one fight or one guy. We would never put anything on the line for one fight or one guy. We could have canceled this fight, moved it to March until he had time to go through the Nevada State Athletic Commission stuff, and just did this in Vegas. This was the right thing to do. California was already intimately involved in his situation, they knew everything, it was easy to get done, and the venue was available, so we moved it. We’re here, this is how we work, this is what we do.”

UFC 232 takes place this Saturday, December 29 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.


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UFC 232 Timeline.

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Heavy Hands. Previewing the upcoming circus that is UFC 232.

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Tim Means.


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Dennis Bermudez (16-9) vs. Te Edwards (6-2); UFC on ESPN+, Jan. 19.


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The last PPV of the year is upon us and it should be a really good one, in spite of all the hullabaloo surrounding it. Keep it locked to MMAFighting for all your UFC 232 coverage needs and we’ll be back on Monday.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the fights!



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