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UFC owners at Endeavor issue company wide layoffs and cutbacks due to coronavirus pandemic

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Endeavor — the UFC’s primary owner — sent a letter to employees notifying them of layoffs and cutbacks in the wake of the current pandemic that continues to cripple businesses across the globe.

As first reported by Deadline, Endeavor will lay off 250 employees, primarily from operational roles from staff who cannot perform their jobs at home. The employees being laid off include staffs at hotels and restaurants owned by Endeavor as well as a smaller number of layoffs at the WME talent agency. Pay cuts are also being evaluated for all remaining employees.

Endeavor co-CEO Ari Emanuel notified employees of the changes being made in a letter sent out on Wednesday. Emanuel added that he and co-CEO Patrick Whitesell will not take a salary in 2020.

“We are in the process of assessing our operations globally to develop a plan that will protect the business while limiting the impact on as many employees as possible,” Emanuel wrote in the letter to employees. “In addition to the cost-cutting efforts outlined a few weeks ago, we will be implementing a number of additional measures beginning this week and through April that will affect compensation and some jobs across the company.

“The effects on each business will vary, and you will receive more specifics from your respective leaders, to the extent any of these decisions may impact you. As part of this, Patrick and I will not be taking a salary for the remainder of 2020.”

In 2018, Emanuel and Whitesell both earned a base salary of $1 million each.

Endeavor has also put a hold on liquidation event where partners would be allowed to cash out up to 20 percent of their equity.

UFC president Dana White took to Instagram after Emanuel’s letter was sent out that no UFC employees would be part of the upcoming layoffs.

“Nobody will lose their job at the UFC,” White said. “Nobody’s getting laid off. It’s not going to happen. The other side of Endeavor laid some people off. I’m not laying anybody off. It’s not going to happen.”

The UFC is currently plotting a return to action on April 18 with UFC 249, a pay-per-view headlined by a highly anticipated title fight between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. A location has yet to be announced for the event.

Right now, the UFC remains a lifeline to Endeavor’s entire business thanks to a lucrative broadcast rights deal with ESPN that continues to provide capital during a period of time when the entertainment industry remains at a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As previously reported, Endeavor was recently placed on “CreditWatch” because the business is expected to face major losses in the wake of live events across numerous industries being put on hold. Endeavor still has massive debt to service after acquiring numerous companies over the past few years, none bigger than the UFC, which was purchased in 2016 for price tag of just over $4 billion.

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