Week in MMA & Boxing #44
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
June 18th - June 24th, 2016
UFC Sale Update
Final bids went in last week and it is believed there were two major consortiums, both offering in the neighborhood of $4 billion for 100 percent stock in the company.
While there are reports that a sale has been completed, and denials from UFC, our sources indicate that the UFC is looking at both bids and that no deal is confirmed. The price tag would be double the previous record sale of a sports franchise, the $2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team in 2012.
One group that placed a bid was a consortium of William Morris Endeavor/IMG from the United States, working with the Dalian Wanda Group out of China, The Kraft Group (which owns the New England Patriots) and Tencent Holdings, who own the largest Internet portal in China.
Another group, reported as being from China Media Capital, is actually a consortium of a number of companies as well. China Media Capital was among them, with most of the money coming from companies based in China and Hong Kong as well as one key American firm involved.
The bids were submitted on 6/16 and it was said at the time that UFC would be taking a number of days to review the bids.
A story on 6/20 on Flo Wrestling by Jeremy Botter broke claiming the WME/IMG bid of $4.19 billion was accepted. This story was immediately denied by UFC, which also threatened legal action against Botter and the site. An internal memo denying the sale was sent to UFC employees and released on the MMA Junkie web site.
The memo stated, “A report today by Flocombat.com indicating that the company has been sold is false. This follows other false speculation in the press recently. Such misrepresentation of facts in the media negatively impacts our business, staff members and athletes. We have instructed our attorneys to investigate and take all appropriate legal actions against the parties publishing and contributing these false stories. With International Fight Week and the historical UFC 200 rapidly approaching, we look forward to once again delivering a series of events that our fans won’t soon forget. We appreciate your hard work, diligence and commitment and thank you for your focus as we continue to take the sport to new heights.”
Botter then reported on 6/22 that the sale was finalized at a 6/19 meeting between Lorenzo Fertitta and Ari Emanuel, the CEO of WME/IMG, as well as other executives of the two companies. Emanuel is close to the Fertittas and White and WME/IMG represents both Ronda Rousey and Dwayne Johnson. The story said that Goldman Sachs handled the sealed bidding process but sources close to the sale told us the bids were submitted through Raine LLC and claimed there is nothing to update regarding the sale. Botter said the announcement of the sale should take place during International Fight Week in conjunction with UFC 200 on 7/9.
It was believed going in that if a sale was done, the announcement wouldn’t be made until UFC 200 so as not to interfere with the promotion of the biggest week in UFC history with four live shows and a Fan Expo. But we still can’t confirm through our sources that a sale has been completed and people with knowledge of the proceedings all along are not aware of a completed sale.
After months of speculation, Georges St-Pierre announced on 6/20 that he was planning on returning to fight. St-Pierre, 35, hasn’t fought since winning a controversial split decision over Johny Hendricks on November 16, 2013, said he’s made the decision to come back pending a new deal with UFC.
While not publicly acknowledged, UFC and St-Pierre have been negotiating for months. Others close to him have been saying all year that he was going to fight again. He teased it as well. Freddie Roach, who has coached him in boxing said a long time back that St-Pierre told him he wanted to do a training camp and would decide if he’d come back after finishing the camp. While it was denied after Conor McGregor lost, St-Pierre was at UFC 196 on 3/5, and had McGregor won, the belief that night was that they were looking to put together that fight.
St-Pierre was on the MMA House on 6/20 and when asked if he was going to fight again, said, “Exactly. That’s what I’m saying.”
The decision is interesting because for years St-Pierre was said to have concern over the damage he’s suffered in fighting. He never announced his retirement, but said he was stepping away after the Hendricks fight and vacating the title. St-Pierre said he completed a training camp and made the call, saying he pushed himself at the highest level, with sparring, and did so successfully.
St-Pierre said he was looking for a fight with Michael Bisping for his return. Bisping is also interested in such a fight, because it would likely be the highest profile and best drawing title defense he could have at this point. It would be St-Pierre moving up a weight class to challenge for the title after three years out, and it would be the battle for the all-time wins record.
CM Punk Debut Set
Former WWE Champion CM Punk announced Wednesday that he would be debuting in UFC on September 10th against Mickey Gall at UFC 203.Punk made the announcement on UFC Unfiltered, a new podcast with Matt Serra and Jim Norton that debuted earlier this week. The show also featured Dwyane Johnson.
The 37-year-old Punk (Phil Brooks) said he had just gotten clearance to train after back surgery and would debut in Cleveland, a show headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem for the UFC heavyweight title. Fabricio Werdum vs. Ben Rothwell is also on that show.
Assuming the fight goes off as planned, his debut would happen nearly two years since he first signed with UFC, a timetable far longer than expected. Reasons included delays due to head trainer Duke Roufus not wanting him to fight too early, as well as shoulder and back injuries, both of which date back to his days as a pro wrestler.
UFC’s debut in Ottawa
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson solidified himself as the top contender for the welterweight title in winning a decision over Rory MacDonald in a tactical fight that was the exception to the rule of the night in Ottawa. Thompson won by scores of 50-45, 48-47 and 50-45, clearly winning three rounds and the other two rounds were close. His combination of karate and kickboxing skills, bolstered by a strong enough takedown defense to keep this as a standing fight, and his ability to control the distance, negated most of MacDonald’s offense. Thompson should get the shot at the winner of the 7/30 title fight with Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley on 7/30 in Atlanta at UFC 201.
MacDonald gambled, and lost, in allowing his contract to expire with this fight. He is likely to negotiate UFC vs. Bellator and go to whoever gives him the best offer. At 26, and being probably the biggest star, aside from Georges St-Pierre, in Canada, a strong MMA country, gives him significant value but his free agency would have been so much more beneficial coming off a win here.
The $50,000 bonuses for the show went to Bosse vs. O’Connell for best fight, and to Donald Cerrone and Krysztof Jotko for performances. For Cerrone, it extended his record for most performance bonuses under the Zuffa umbrella to 17. It was also his 17th UFC win, putting him tied for fourth place on the all-time list with Demian Maia, trailing Georges St-Pierre, Michael Bisping and Matt Hughes.
Joanne Calderwood will also get bonused after talking about her plight on social media. Calderwood on Instagram said she was gutted she didn’t get a bonus, because she’s broke and will have to return to Scotland and get a job to save up money to pay for another fight camp in Montreal’s Tri Star Gym. This led to a lot of support for her and negativity for UFC and how it pays fighters if a fighter has to get a job to pay for her next camp, and Dana White responded by saying they would bonus Calderwood and also sign her to a new higher paying contract.
Dana on Ariel
UFC has started its own podcast, called UFC Unfiltered, hosted by Matt Serra and Jim Norton. On the first episode, Dana White was the guest. This is what he said about Ariel Helwani: “Well (Helwani) got his credential back. I wouldn’t say he’s in decent graces. We built that promo (the one for UFC 200 with Lesnar at the end), a lot of people were quiet about it, and a lot of people, it was for the fans, that thing was for the fans, for that wow factor to be there and go, `Oh wow, Brock’s back.’ And the way that he did it, it had a lot of people pointing fingers at each other. You notice I wasn’t out there putting the belt on Dominick Cruz. Then when I ran out to put the belt on Bisping, because I’ve been with Bisping for ten years, he’s such a great guy, my sleeves are rolled up. I got no jacket on because I’m dealing with the aftermath of the weasel move that he pulled."
"People can call it journalism or whatever. We can have our differences of opinion on that, but he knows what he did and he did it on purpose. Then he goes on (the) f***I thing and he’s crying and shit. Dude, your kids are going to see that for Christ sakes. You know what I mean? Give me a f***in break.” He also said later, “There’s so much more to that thing than was represented. I know he threw a big pity-party for himself and all that shit, but there was a lot more to it. A lot more people were involved in that thing, and it almost blew up a huge relationship that I wouldn’t even get into publicly. That’s why we just came out with a statement. I don’t know. It was dirty. He knows it was dirty, and he threw a big pity-party for himself, crying on camera and shit. It’s just f***ing ridiculous.” “I’ve done a lot of shit for Ariel Helwani, a lot of shit for Ariel Helwani, and it’s just, you know, whatever, man, it’s all good.”
Anthony Rumble Johnson, who was scheduled to face Glover Teixeira in a fight to determine the top contender at light heavyweight on 7/23 in Chicago on FOX, pulled out due to family reasons. The bad part of that is that if Jon Jones beats Daniel Cormier on 7/9, Jones vs. Johnson was really the only intriguing title fight left. If Cormier wins, they probably would do Jones vs. Cormier III later this year, perhaps in Madison Square Garden. Jones already beat Teixeira in five straight rounds and it didn’t draw well the first time so there wouldn’t be major interest in a rematch.
Lesnar Drug Test
Brock Lesnar has already been drug tested five times since 6/6. None of the test results are back, but USADA is going out of its way to test him.
Bisping vs Henderson
Michael Bisping was pushing on UFC Tonight that he wants to defend his title next against Dan Henderson. He said that he knows Henderson will be retiring soon so this would be his last chance to get revenge for his UFC 100 loss. It’s not weird, but it is notable that there are a number of great contenders that would be heavily favored to beat Bisping, while Henderson would not be a legit contender. But even though Henderson isn’t even a big draw (he’s very popular and likeable but has never been a big draw), a lot of people are pushing for that fight. Joe Rogan even said he’s pushing Dana White to make it. Bisping also said that he wants to defend his title in the U.K, in specific in Manchester. My impression is if he can pick what he wants next, it would be Henderson in Manchester in a few months.
Mendes Comes Clean
Chad Mendes wrote a tweet, apparently regarding his positive drug test. He didn’t say much or explain much, saying, “I didn’t do my homework and that was a big mistake. I own it and I’m going to pay for it.” That sounds like a long suspension.
Big John to ref Main Eevnt
Jon Jones’ manager sent an e-mail to Bob Bennett of the Nevada commission expressing concern over the choice of John McCarthy as referee of his match with Daniel Cormier. Bennett still picked McCarthy to referee the fight. McCarthy will also ref the Jedrzejczyk vs. Gadelha fight, while. The commission also approved the earlier weigh-in times that UFC and Bellator are both trying to get as consistent worldwide policy.