Week in MMA & Boxing #43
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
June 11th - June 17th, 2016
UFC Sale Update
The bidding period is expected to end this week, on or around 6/16, regarding a sale that is expected to be in the $4 billion price range for 100 percent ownership of the UFC.
William Morris Endeavor/IMG, China Media Capital and the Dalian Wanda Group of China were expected to put in final bids this week after the last rounds of due diligence are completed.
It is possible the current UFC owners, Lorenzo & Frank Fertitta, January Capital and Dana White, would not accept the bid and the current owners will stay in place. But it was UFC that went through Goldman Sachs to find potential bidders and provided confidential business information.
The big question involves what happens to Lorenzo Fertitta and White, who built the company over the past 15 years. The Fertitta Brothers purchased the dying company for $2 million in 2001, struggled with money losses through 2005, and have profited greatly over the past years. A significant percentage of the UFC’s profits over the years have gone directly to the owners in the form of annual dividends.
It is believed that some, if not all of the bidders want White to stay in UFC, and if they had their way, with an ownership interest. A guy used to having stock in what he devotes his life to isn’t going to be the same when put on salary, even a huge salary.
But White’s 8.99% of stock in a $4 billion sale would be $359.6 million in cash. The company purchase price is expected in bidding to be at in the range of that level. If White takes the cash, even though most expect him to remain with the company in some fashion as the symbolic face of the brand at least for a few years, the question is what his new role will be? White is so established as the company’s front man, and there are things like appearing on Ultimate Fighter, Looking for a Fighter and putting together the big show main events that he enjoys doing. His visibility has been greatly diminished in recent months, frequently not even appearing at post-match press conferences, even on successful shows, or if he does appear, he may take some early questions and then leave things to Dave Sholler. He’s still the guy who will do the media rounds to promote fights or put out fires, but is far less accessible than he had been when he was considered the most accessible “commissioner” in sports.
The actual ownership of the company right now that is for sale is owned 71.89% by Fertitta Business Management LLC, 9.99% by January Capital (Flash Entertainment of Abu Dhabi), 8.09% by The Dana White Family Trust,. 4.49% by the Frank Fertitta III Family Trust, 4.49% by the Lorenzo Fertitta Family Trust, 0.90% by the Dana & Anne White Irrevocable Trust and 0.15% by the Zuffa Pipco LLC.
If the sale does go through over the next week, it would be expected to be kept quiet until UFC 200 at the earliest, if not after the show takes place, although how easily the biggest news story of years can be kept quiet for weeks right now is hard to say. It would be in nobody’s best interest for them to announce and break the focus off promoting the biggest week in company history. There will be four live events, three on successive nights in Las Vegas, 7/7, 7/8 and 7/9 in Las Vegas, with five championship fights, the return of Lesnar and the finals of the Ultimate Fighter, plus a Fan Expo in Las Vegas that includes the Hall of Fame, and a fourth show a few days later in Sioux Falls, SD.
What's Next for Bisping?
Bisping was always the fighter that everyone wanted to fight, with the belief that his reputation was better than he is, he talks up fights, and it’s a big win to get. Now he’s champion.
Things can go in a lot of directions. After the show, Bisping and Rockhold got into it big-time. That was the focus of the post-show press conference seemingly the two building up a rematch. After the press conference ended, with the two still going at it, Bisping directed a gay slur at Rockhold, although he did realize what he did and apologized immediately. It isn’t that Bisping needs to be thrown under the bus, but in this day and age, fighters should not use that word. I’d have liked for Bisping to have made an apology since the usage of that word became a story, and for UFC to make a statement that usage of that word will not be tolerated going forward.
There are a number of different possible contenders for Bisping next, including Souza, Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva, Yoel Romero and even Dan Henderson.
Weidman underwent neck surgery on 6/9. He started light workouts and rehab the next day. He should be cleared for hard training in six weeks and is expected to be ready for the 11/12 show in Madison Square Garden. He’s challenged Bisping for the middleweight title and where he’s got a leg up, is that such a match fits perfectly for the Madison Square Garden show as Weidman is the biggest star from New York.
Bisping said he wanted Weidman to face Luke Rockhold and he’d defend against the winner. It appears Bisping is trying to push for a fight with Dan Henderson. Henderson did knock Bisping out in 2009 and he’s coming off a big win. Henderson was never a big draw, but he’s a bigger draw than Souza, who as far as wins and losses goes, is both the most deserving, but would also be the weakest draw except for Romero.
If the UFC wants to take advantage of Bisping’s win and hold a mega show in the U.K., at a stadium, this is their best chance. Really Silva would be the best drawing opponent, but Bisping just beat him. I think Henderson, Rockhold or Weidman would probably be the best draws in that situation. The problem with a U.K. stadium show is the time zone aspect and it would be tough to do as a PPV. It could be used as a major Fight Pass show, but that’s taking a significant title fight away from PPV, which needs those types of bouts.
By recent records, it would be ridiculous for either Henderson or Silva to get a shot, but money considerations are first and foremost in combat sports. I still think Weidman in MSG makes the most sense in the big picture. Plus, Weidman would be heavily favored and if he does win, Rockhold would be the natural first contender. But Souza deserves a shot and Romero, who beat Souza (even though most had Souza winning the fight), can’t be ignored since he’s never lost in UFC. A Henderson fight you’d have to favor Bisping, but Henderson can knock anyone out. Plus, the reality is that Henderson after all those losses by knockout, if he would win the title at the age of almost 46, it’s a hell of a story. Any of the big four healthy would destroy Henderson (unless he landed his shot) and all would be favored to beat Bisping as well.
Brock Lesnar Update
Brock Lesnar was given his first drug test by UFC since returning on 6/9. Jeff Novitzky of UFC personally flew to Lesnar’s farm in Saskatchewan last week to go over the company’s drug testing program, how they had a right to test him at any time without warning and they almost immediately tested him.
For those wondering, Lesnar will be wearing a Reebok uniform when he comes to the cage. Another interesting aspect is that the flag of the country he will be representing will be Canada, and not the U.S. Several years back when Lesnar fell ill to diverticulitis in Manitoba, he was rushed from the hospital and across the border to Fargo because he didn’t want to be treated by Canadian doctors. He made a lot of enemies in Canada with that attitude. Now he’s made it clear that he’s Canadian, as he lives on a farm in Saskatchewan.
Big Payday for Jones and Cormier
Both Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier have talked about how they’re glad that Lesnar is on UFC 200, since they both get a percentage of the PPV revenue and it means significantly more for both of them. Miesha Tate also fits into that category but I haven’t heard her say anything. Cormier and Lesnar are friends dating back to their wrestling days since they were college wrestlers at the same time, Cormier at Oklahoma State and Lesnar at Minnesota. When Cormier heard before UFC 199 after Ariel Helwani broke the story that Lesnar may be on the show, he texted Lesnar and asked, “Is it Christmas?” which is a line regarding Christmas coming early given his pay for UFC 200 with Lesnar added. Lesnar, doing his best to keep the story quiet, didn’t respond. After the promo aired, Lesnar texted back, “It’s Christmas.”
Brooks to UFC
Will Brooks, who was Bellator lightweight champion with two wins over Michael Chandler, before being released from the promotion after making negative comments on Twitter, has signed with UFC and will debut on 7/8 in Las Vegas on FS 1 against Ross Pearson.
Dana to Speak at the RNC
Donald Trump said that he would like Dana White, among others, to speak at the Republican Convention. Trump on 6/10 while in Richmond said that he wants the convention to be different, and that instead of politicians talking he wants “winners” and “champions,” mentioning Bob Knight the basketball coach, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Brian France of NASCAR and White.